By Lawrence UlrichPosted 07.26.2012 at 10:18 am 19 Comments
Since the Scottish inventor Robert Thomson patented pneumatic tires in 1845, they have become standard on every vehicle with two, four or 18 wheels. Pneumatic tires are now so durable that many drivers never even bother to check their air pressure. But the tires still have weaknesses, not least of which is the tendency to go flat.
Whether you're tackling mountain trails or just trying to get through Manhattan's Chinatown, rough terrain can put your bike's tubes at serious risk. It's not usually an option to hop off and adjust your tire pressure, but a company called Adaptrac has a system that mounts a toggle right on your handlebars and allows you to raise or lower your pressure even while riding.
Cities can only do so much to improve bicyclists’ safety — bike lanes and automatic traffic light sensors are great, but motorists are really the ones who have to pay attention for bike riders to be safe. An intrepid mechanical engineer has one solution: Make bike lights as obvious as car lights.
Your life is full of what NASA calls "spinoffs": ideas or products initially designed for NASA's particular (and particularly challenging) uses, but which trickled down to become commercial products. Of course, you may not recognize these items--there's no "made for NASA" sticker, and many of the iconic NASA products (Tang, Teflon, Velcro) weren't actually designed for or by NASA at all. But NASA-developed stuff is everywhere, from insulation to infant formula, from prostheses to fishing nets. Here are ten of our favorites that originated in the Shuttle program--the very program that just saw its last launch ever.
Click here to see 10 ways Shuttle tech can be found right here on Earth.
By Alison Lakin, Associate Editor of DriverSidePosted 12.17.2010 at 1:07 pm 4 Comments
When the warm summer air gives way to the chill of an impending winter, some of you are probably thinking more about fading tans and lost beach days than you are about car care. We understand that anything related to cold weather might be a sore subject. However, snow tires (also known as "winter tires") are tremendously important for your safety if you live in a snowy climate, and it's important to know when to switch over to them.
Checking your tire pressure might save you a few cents on gas, but the technology behind rubber meeting road is a bit more critical in F1 racing than in commuter frugality. Professional teams have long collected data on tire pressure and air temperature through sensors on a tire's valve stem during a race. But these sensors are susceptible to "heat soak" from the rim, and brakes and were unable to measure the critical temperature of the actual tire carcass.
Even with a vehicle that has 4WD and high clearance, there are a few times each winter when I can't make it up my 1,000-foot-long driveway without a little extra help. Usually that means untangling a set of ice-cold chains and then trying to secure them to my wheels before my fingers go numb...all while holding a flashlight between my teeth. Chaining up is never as quick or as easy as the instructions would suggest.