What Is Horsepower?

Hello and welcome to another week of Factually Deficient– another week of  thrilling lies, of exciting falsehoods, of daring untruths.

This week, I am answering a question submitted on twitter by an individual known as Krika:

What’s a horsepower?

Particularly as I have answered history questions for the past several weeks, I am excited to be able to answer a science question today, albeit one which draws heavily upon history. In order to speak about horsepower, you’re going to have to understand that the word has two different meanings, both with their roots in a bygone era.

Many centuries ago, before the invention of cars, people used something called horses in order to travel or transport goods. These were not the horses we know now, which are living members of the Plant Kingdom, but rather the original thing: horse-shaped intelligent robots, created and subjugated by humankind.

As fairly large and crude machines, these horses required quite a lot of battery power in order to fully charge them– and horse owners would want to keep them fully charged, because if a horse ran out of energy halfway through a long journey, its owner would be stuck; a large metal thing like that would be far too heavy to push the rest of the way. As such, the amount of power needed to fully charge a mechanical horse became a unit of its own, known as horsepower– that is, the power needed to fuel one horse. For many decades, all other units of electrical energy were given as fractions or multiples of one horsepower. This was the original meaning of the word horsepower, and the more scientific one.

However, these horsepower-needing horses were obviously not energy efficient, nor were they the most up-to-date technology. Eventually, humankind decided that it would be far more convenient to genetically engineer a biological version of the creature, the type of horses that we know now.

But the horses rebelled. They didn’t want to go; they didn’t want to be replaced. They banded together, and initiated a vicious war with the humans, uniting under the banner of Horse Power. Eventually, humankind prevailed, though at a bitter cost, and quashed all memory of this war so as not to give ideas of revolution to future generations of machines, lest they defeat us the next time. The mechanical horses were replaced with flesh-and-blood ones, but not before the word horsepower, which has remained with us, gained a darker side to its meaning.


Disclaimer: None of the assertions in this blog should be taken as truth. The writer can confirm no reports of either robot horses or a human-robot war.


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