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Then and Now - April 2008

April 1958 Two MIT professors announce the development of the “thermoelectron engine”, a device that coverts heat generated by any type of fuel into electrical energy. Thermal efficiencies of 30% are expected.  Like to guess at Royal Dutch Shell’s net income for 1957? Would you believe a paltry $600 million? Conoco reports the development of a seismic method that involves pounding the earth with a vibrating device to create sound waves that are sent through the earth’s strata. “Vibroseis”, as they call it, will reportedly eliminate the need for drilling shot-holes and firing explosives. LPG marketers announce plans to begin mixing ethane into their commercially marketed butane in extremely cold weather areas. The ethane enhances the volatility of the butane far better than does propane. (Not expected to be marketed in Houston.) East Texas crude oil - $3.25/bbl; U.S. active …