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Posted: 28 March 2011 01:40 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Just a quick one.

Watching the Letterman show the other day. In his monologue he was talking about rising gas prices, by which he meant of course gasoline, or petrol for those of us here in the sceptred isle. As we’d just received a stonking utilities bill for gas for cooking, heating, etc last week my mind registered that sense momentarily before making the US adjustment. Then it occurred to me that I had no idea which term Letterman would use if he’d wanted to complain about rising gas (in the UK sense) prices.

Would he use a qualifying word with gas, such as cooking, would he use the same term with the sense revealed by context, or would he use another word?

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Posted: 28 March 2011 01:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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The leftpondian term would be natural gas. We do use plain old gas when the context makes it clear what you’re talking about, e.g., we’re cooking with gas.

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Posted: 28 March 2011 02:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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And gas bill would usually default to that sense, since one generally pays for gasoline at each purchase (though you might charge it to a credit card) but receives (monthly, typically) bills for natural gas, as with other utilities (water, electricity).

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Posted: 28 March 2011 03:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Another type of gas that’s used for heating and cooking is propane, usually called “propane” but also called “bottled gas” or “bottle gas” even though it is kept liquified under pressure in metal cylinders.

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Posted: 28 March 2011 04:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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jtab4994 - 28 March 2011 03:51 PM

Another type of gas that’s used for heating and cooking is propane, usually called “propane” but also called “bottled gas” or “bottle gas” even though it is kept liquified under pressure in metal cylinders.

I think that’s what we Brits term calor gas. I seem to recall when I was younger that the gas piped in domestically was called coal gas. Then in the early 70s with the North Sea oil boom households were all converted to North Sea gas. (One difference: no longer could you shake off this mortal coil by sticking your head in the gas oven. North Sea gas was non-lethal, although I’m sure it would give you a nasty headache, and would-be suicides still had the option of an explosive exit, although most were understandably reluctant to make use of it - it’s one thing to lay your head down as if to sleep, quite another to have one’s bodily parts hurtled to the four points of the compass!)

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Posted: 29 March 2011 01:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Dave Wilton - 28 March 2011 01:48 PM

The leftpondian term would be natural gas. We do use plain old gas when the context makes it clear what you’re talking about, e.g., we’re cooking with gas.

In the UK natural as opposed to manufactured gas has a relatively recent history, gas deposits in the North Sea only becoming available in the late 1960s/early 1970s. Various terms such as ‘coal gas’, ‘producer gas’ and ‘town gas’ tended to be used (with varying degrees of specificity as to source). Were any of these (or equivalent) terms used in Leftpondia?

[Edit to fix bungled punctuation.]

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Posted: 29 March 2011 05:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Dr Fortran - 29 March 2011 01:13 AM

In the UK natural as opposed to manufactured gas has a relatively recent history, gas deposits in the North Sea only becoming available in the late 1960s/early 1970s. Various terms such as ‘coal gas’, ‘producer gas’ and ‘town gas’ tended to be used (with varying degrees of specificity as to source). Were any of these (or equivalent) terms used in Leftpondia?

Coal gas was a term (and product) in widespread use on this side of the puddle many decades ago.  I recall my father, born in 1911, using the term.  As U.S. usage switched to natural gas, probably some time around 1930 to 1950, the term coal gas declined.  I’ve never come across the other terms you mentioned.

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Posted: 29 March 2011 06:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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I think the term “town gas” was used in the US, as well.  Also “syngas”.  As aldi indicates, these coal-derived gases were quite lethal to inhale, because they contained substantial amounts of carbon monoxide.  Hence the old movie and cartoon trope of head-in-the-oven suicide.

A malfunctioning natural-gas oven may produce CO as a byproduct of combustion, but in the old coal gas, CO was part of the fuel itself.

[edited for typo]

[ Edited: 29 March 2011 10:47 AM by Dr. Techie ]
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Posted: 29 March 2011 10:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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There goes another myth. I’d always thought natural gas was lethal to breathe, but it seems the risk is mainly from lack of oxygen, not toxicity. Plus fire and explosion, of course.

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Posted: 29 March 2011 11:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Another bit of trivia about cooking and heating gases is that they’re generally odorless.  That familiar smell when the pilot light is out or the burner won’t light is from an additive that allows you to detect and report the leak before the house explodes.  A natural gas explosion at a school in Texas in 1937 killed 295 children and teachers, after which the odorant was added.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_London_School_explosion

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Posted: 30 March 2011 12:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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In Australia, as in Britain, we call gasoline “petrol” , but note that an increasing number of cars are using actual gas (LPG in this case) so a motorist complaining of gas prices would probably be referring to LPG prices.

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Posted: 30 March 2011 03:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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In the US Army in the 80s, and I assume it’s still true today, gasoline is referred to as mogas, which is short for motor gas. Presumably to distinguish it from other gases. We didn’t use much natural gas, but there was lots of avgas, aviation fuel, and gas was the term of choice for chemical warfare agents, which were rarely actually gases.

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Posted: 02 May 2011 05:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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regardless of what Letterman was implying, rising gas prices are emptying our wallets here in the US

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Posted: 02 May 2011 08:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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strive101 - 02 May 2011 05:21 AM

regardless of what Letterman was implying, rising gas prices are emptying our wallets here in the US

I don’t think we’ll get much sympathy from the international crowd (especially the Brits) in this discussion. $4.00/gallon might seem like a right good deal in Europe. I think that folks in Europe are easily paying double that.

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Posted: 02 May 2011 08:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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At senior breakfast this morning someone boasted that they filled up with “regular” for $3.99. No mention of gas or gasoline. Were this person going out to fill up he would have probably said ‘I have to go get ‘’gas’’ but upon return ‘’regular’’ was quite understandable.

I can recall when ‘’Ethyl’’ was common jargon for gasoline required by many new automobiles.

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Posted: 02 May 2011 08:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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And of course Groucho (as Rufus T. Firefly in Duck Soup) said, “If you run out of gas, get Ethyl.  If Ethyl runs out, get Mabel.”

Edit:  “Ethyl” was the trade name for tetraethyllead, which was an anti-knock agent added to gasoline, and which was outlawed by the U.S. government as a source of lead pollution in the late 1970’s.

[ Edited: 02 May 2011 09:08 AM by jtab4994 ]
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