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Diesel's day has arrived

Diesel's day has arrived

One hundred and twenty years ago this summer — in 1893 — Rudolf Diesel fired up a single-cylinder engine attached to a flywheel. The contraption was fueled by peanut oil.

He must have been relieved as the engine sputtered to life because Diesel had worked for years on a new idea: that higher levels of compression within the engine could ignite the fuel, thus replacing the spark required by conventional internal combustion engines.

It is highly unlikely that Diesel — born in Paris in 1858 of German parents — could have possibly conceived how the engine bearing his name would revolutionize the world of transportation.

Diesel's early plan was spelled...