Now that the Olympics are done, we can reflect on the big moments. (Usain Bolt's lightspeed 100-meter win and Michael Phelps's sunken-pirate-ship levels of gold come to mind.) But if we pull the historical camera back even farther, we can look at the big picture, seeing exactly how much of a blip on the timeline this year made. With that in mind, we've created an interactive graph that shows every gold-medal time for several events and annotations for years that were outliers, or that were just especially interesting (including tech like the Speedo LZR suit, or less-known developments like the official roughening of the javelin to handicap the competitors). It's a look at how technology, smarts, and super-human ability brought the Games to where they are now.
Part of the fun of watching the Olympics is living vicariously through your country's team. We like to think that if circumstances had been different, if we watched a little less Netflix, if our parents had just made us take gymnastics at an early age, or if we hadn't quit swimming to be a townsperson in the school musical, maybe that would be us on TV telling reporters how "speechless" and "thankful" we are to have won in front of the whole world.
Nike's TurboSpeed, which sounds like the name of a Hot Wheels playset, is an ultra-lightweight track suit designed to help sprinters reach that extra height. Oddly, it's inspired by the golf ball, which is why it has all those odd little dimples. But we prefer to think of them as speed holes.
It is very hard to say. In February, the editors of The Guinness Book of World Records announced that the Infinity chili, grown by Nick Woods, the proprietor of a hot-sauce company in Lincolnshire, England, was the hottest pepper ever—more than 250 times as hot as Tabasco sauce. Just two weeks later, Guinness declared that the Infinity had been unseated by another British-grown hybrid, the Naga Viper.
Want to see history made in the blink of an eye? About two weeks ago we wrote about Gamera, the University of Maryland's human-powered helicopter that is chasing after the Sikorsky Prize, a $250,000 purse offered to anyone who can meet a set of ambitious flight criteria with a human-powered helicopter.
A new champion amongst solar-powered cars has emerged in sunny Australia: A student-built solar car, christened the Sunswift IV, has crushed the previous speed record with a run that topped out at 56.85 mph.
Anything is possible with determination and a little help from modern technology. That's the message of Haidar Taleb's inspirational 200-mile journey across the desert of the UAE in a solar-powered wheelchair of his own design. Completion of the voyage on December 2 will break the world record for distance traveled in a solar-powered wheelchair – a record he already holds for a 14-hour, 80-mile trip from Abu Dhabi to Sharjah. That trip was taken mere weeks ago, yet Taleb is already setting off again, in honor of the UAE National Day.