Nap Pepin had been waiting on the side of the highway near his Alberta, Canada, home for more than hour when the tow truck finally pulled up. The driver looked at the stranded electronics technologist and his homebuilt electric trike and asked, "Ran out of juice, eh?" Pepin wasn't sure what the problem was, but he knew he still had plenty of charge.
Before Electric Blue sped across Utah's Bonneville Salt Flats at 175 miles an hour late last year, no one had made an official attempt to set a speed record for battery-powered racecars weighing less than 1,100 pounds. Other groups have been racing on the Salt Flats for years in electric cars with heavier batteries and larger motors. But Perry Carter, a professor of manufacturing engineering technology at Brigham Young University, wanted a car that could hit high speeds without so much weight. See how this record-breaking electric car works over here.
Last October, after hurting his knee playing hockey, Patrick Priebe was holed up in his apartment near Cologne, Germany, with nothing to do. He was sitting at his computer, staring at his keyboard, when the “Y” key caught his eye. Priebe didn’t see a letter. To him, it looked like a crossbow. Immediately he knew what his next project would be.
In the late 1980s, millions of arcade-addicted kids sat in the faux racing seats of Sega’s OutRun videogame, grabbed the rubber-covered wheel of the imitation Ferrari Testarossa, pressed down on the pedals, and imagined they were roaring down the street. Twenty-five years later, one of those kids, Garnet Hertz, has realized that fantasy, modding an 1,100-pound arcade machine to ride on pavement.
David Forbes was on his way home to Tucson, Arizona, after a family trip last summer when a policeman stopped him in the Detroit airport. The officer said he had received 50 panicked phone calls since Forbes had entered the building, and now his entire family had been marked for extra screening. The delay was inconvenient, but it shouldn’t have come as a surprise. Forbes had 160 circuit boards and enough electronics to start a data center strapped to his body. What the authorities didn’t realize, though, was that all the equipment wasn’t dangerous—it was actually a wearable TV set.
One night last february, Ben Allen and a group of electrical-engineering students at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands needed some help testing their 20-inch-long prototype of the classic 1980s Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) controller. The group was in the early stages of designing an absurdly enlarged version of the device—one as long and wide as a compact car—in an attempt to break the world controller-size record. In honor of the quest, they enticed some fellow geeks to join them at a campus pub by offering free Guinness.
In 1736 the Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler ended a debate among the citizens of Königsberg, Prussia, by drawing a graph. The Pregel River divided the city, now Kaliningrad, Russia, into four sections. Seven bridges connected them. Could a person cross all seven without walking over the same one twice?
Darren Samuelson had just taken his last photo of Manhattan when the police arrived. He and his father had been working from an empty dock across the Hudson River, and the authorities wanted to know why they were pointing a five-foot-tall, six foot-long, 70-pound folding contraption at the city. Samuelson pleaded that it was a camera, and that he was just a tourist.
After 1,200 unsuccessful attempts to do something, most people would call it quits. Not Harvard University chemist Tobias Ritter. Chemistry research is 90 percent failure, he says. But success, when it comes, can be big. In Ritter's case, it could mean more-effective drugs. Ritter, a native of Germany, had been studying fluorination, the process by which fluorine atoms bind to carbon, since 2007.