I should have spoken better: I meant "creates" not generates. Mechanical energy starts out as direct current and is converted to AC before it becomes usable power. That's how those spinning coils work. The problem is, that conversion is solid state, meaning it requires electronics to make it happen - especially if you need it regulated.
I would agree that the current state of affairs at hydroelectric plants would mean that they would be useless, but at that point, the need for power being exactly 60 is no longer necessary. Mechanical means could be set up to control the flow of water. Distribution of said power would be very local. Settlements would appear near these power plants.
That was what I was getting at: running the generator is normally not the problem, though modern generators often need power to start the power generatoing process (like priming a well pump). Still, it's creating power you can use, then being able to distribute it that hard the hardest parts. If they could simply use the basic generator coils and rely on DC near the plant, they could have power. After all, lights can run off DC power and motors very often use DC, not AC. That takes care of lighting, pumping water and things like refrigeration. It also allows you to manufacture stuff with power tools.
Further, in 12 years, they ought to have been able to build replacement electronics from raw materials to get everything back to normal. 12 years isn't long enough for us to forget how to build chips and computers.
Obviously, there's something else at play here or it would have happened.
But, the problem, AIUI, is that in this series is that electricity no longer functions. You can't even generate electricity with one of those simple generators attached to bikes.
Faraday's law is no longer in effect.
That is why old cars will not work, because batteries no longer work and you can't create the spark to ignite the fuel.
The only two ways a battery could fail to generate a spark is if fire could no longer exists or chemical reactions no longer work. A car battery works off a chemical reaction to create power. No chips, no computers...nothing but a lead core and acid. It's a similar reaction to that of a baking soda volcano.
The lack of fire working is all well and good until we see them cooking over a camp fire, using candles, etc.
The chemical reaction thing is all well and good until they decide to bake bread or preserve food.
The implication is that one or both of the above principles no longer works which would affect every single daily function in their lives and make survival nearly impossible.
Further, I'm not sure how they can come up with a realistic cause for that.
Honestly, if this event were real (likely caused by a massive EMP), the real reason cars wouldn't work is because of the electronic ignition module, which would affect cars even back into the 50's or earlier. The EMP would kill it. The iginition module is what actually tells the spark plug to fire at the top of the compression stroke. Without it, there's no timing which would result in an engine that fires at the wrong time.
The thing is, that wouldn't affect a Model T or some other vehicle from that era since it would use mechnical points and a magnito - eliminating the need for even a battery. Further, any motorcycle from the 60's or earlier would offer the same ability, though you'd have batteries in many of those models unless you backed up to the era of the classic Nortons, Triumphs and even early single cylinder Harleys.
It sounds like the writers room conversation went something like this:
"OK, all technology is dead, so even cars won't work."
"What about vintage cars with no electronics? Those might."
"Yeah, but we don't have the budget to pull in vintage vehicles."
"OK, so let's come up with something that invalidates every law regarding electricity and the way electrons flow."
"What about people? Aren't we electrical? Wouldn't such a thing kill us?"
"Now you're just being picky..."
.Edited by NetworkTV - 8/5/12 at 7:23am