By Gregory Mone
Posted 12.27.2007 at 12:56 pm 3 Comments
Earthrace, the environmentally-friendly speedboat that recently abandoned two attempts to break the round-the-world speed record, has just announced plans to go for it again. The boat, designed and developed by a former oil industry engineer turned environmentalist, runs completely on biodiesel and should have a net zero carbon footprint. A wave-piercing, trimaran hull design helps it slice through the water. And if the swells get too big? Supposedly the boat has the ability to duck through the waves instead of rolling over them.
As we noted previously, though, the first attempt ended in tragedy. And the second didn't go so well, either: the crew discovered a crack in the hull and had to end the trip early.
Now the team will set out once more, this time from Valencia, Spain in March.—Gregory Mone
When paddling over waterfalls is no longer a thrill, it´s time to add horsepower
By Gregory Mone
Posted 06.28.2007 at 2:00 am 0 Comments
Heading straight for a rock wall along New Zealand's Waimakariri River Gorge wouldn't normally faze Shaun Baker. But this was a new experience even for the world-record-holding waterfall jumper-this time his kayak had an engine in it, skipping him like a stone at more than 30 mph. Finally he backed off the throttle just enough to steer himself parallel to the wall and avert disaster, before gunning it back up to full speed.
To anyone who might still doubt the raw power of electric vehicles, consider this: A French bullet train—which draws its power from overhead lines—set a world speed record for conventional rail trains yesterday, hitting 357.2 miles an hour with two locomotives and three passenger cars. It used a 25,000-horsepower engine and specially modified wheels to accomplish the feat.
Let’s think about that for a moment. It’s 100 mph faster than the Bugatti Veyron, the fastest production car in the world. At 357.2 mph, you cover six miles each minute, a tenth of a mile each second. The effect on spectators was thunderous (check out the video above at the 3-minute mark as the train whooshes under an overpass at the moment the record falls, much to the delight of the French TV newscaster live on the scene). I can’t imagine what would have happened if, say, a cow had wandered onto the track; it probably would have just been vaporized. If anything had happened to the train itself, it would have been curtains for everyone—and one of the most terrible, protracted crashes in history.
By the way, it’s still not the fastest train on Earth. A Japanese maglev (magnetically levitated) train hit 361 mph in 2003. —Eric Adams
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.