Wednesday, February 28, 2007

pain in the neck?

Rdoctor has a very lengthy blog on just that. Neck pain and whiplash.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Batmobile for sale

Sowmya commented here that $98000 for a Tesla is a lot, and today the Batmobile goes on auction and is expected to sell for £75,000 ($187000). "The Batmobile was devised when the cartoon superhero suffered a broken leg in the 1950s, and his trusty sidekick Robin built the vehicle to allow him to continue protecting the residents of Gotham City" reports the website news-link here

Since Oscars went green, will the future Batmobiles be Teslas? This will be a good item to blog about as this is the first time an entire event of this magnitude has gone green!

Sunday, February 25, 2007


If you think cost of Education is expensive, imagine the costs of ignorance
- Derek Bok

Saturday, February 24, 2007

100 mpg car

Steve Lapp, a professor from Ontario, says the moment has nearly arrived. "I've actually gotten over 100 mpg on some trips in my 2001 Toyota Prius," he says. The secret? He mounted solar panels on the car's roof to keep the batteries charged when the sun is shining. If Lapp, a backyard big thinker, can get triple-digit mileage occasionally, why can't the world's car manufacturers hit the mark on every drive?
Automotive X prize will soon announce a challenge to design 100mpg car that can be produced in large scale.

Some interesting bites from a very long but very interesting article in Popular Mechanics:
  • Body Use of carbon fiber instead of aluminum or steel, because of its superior strength to weight ratio can bring down the weight of the vehicle significantly.
  • Aerodynamics "We're noticing in the wind tunnel that what you do on the bottom of the car can be more profound than the roof shape. The rear of the car needs to be either long and attenuated or abruptly cut off. A car's wake can have a detrimental effect on the mileage by creating a partial vacuum behind the car, tugging it backward." says Stewart Reed, who chairs the Transportation Design Department at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif.
  • Tires Tire manufacturers already use silica in the tread compound to help lower rolling resistance. David Van Emburg, Michelin North America's product marketing director, says we could soon see exotic tires with 20 percent lower rolling resistance than today's models.
Ongoing efforts All electric 100 mpg car from Tesla Motors (Jon Mittelhauser has a blog on why you should get yourself a Tesla). The Aptera Concept Car from Steve Fambro of Accelerated Composites have a 330 mpg, 2 passenger car that can cost under $20K (link : pdf file). Popular Mechanics has a design to achieve 100 mpg without too much extra sweat using existing technology.

Excuses, worse than school children

The Committee was unanimous in its view to submit its report by 8 June 2006 when the 15 months time originally allotted was to expire. However, it came across some insurmountable impediments. In June 2005 the Committee had written to the Ministry of Programme Implementation and Statistics seeking relevant data of NSSO based on 61st Round (corresponding to the 2004-05). It was expected that this data would be available by November 2005. Though the Ministry of Statistics tried its best to supply us the information early but, may be because of the extensive nature of the work, it could not be supplied to us even by May 2006. -- Sachar Committee Report

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Science Experiments in under 10 minutes

An excerpt from Dave Barry's column "Science: It's just not fair"
you might consider duplicating the one that my wife swears she did in the 7th grade late on the night before the science fair. It was called ''Waves,'' and it consisted entirely of a baking pan filled with water, and a pencil. ''You swished the pencil around in the water, and it made waves,'' my wife explained.

I asked her what scientific principle this project demonstrated, and, after thinking about it for a moment, she answered: ``The movement of the water.''

Impossible though it may sound, I did a project in 6th grade that was even lamer than that. It was called ''Phases of the Moon,'' and it consisted of a small rubber ball that I had darkened half of by scribbling on it with a pen. You were supposed to rotate the ball, thus demonstrating scientifically that the phases of the moon were caused by, I don't know, ink.

The total elapsed time involved in conceiving of and constructing this project was maybe 10 minutes, of which at least nine were devoted to scribbling.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

40 trillion gallons over your head

If you live in the United States, there are 40 trillion gallons of water above your head on an average day. Each day, about four trillion gallons of this water fall to Earth as precipitation, such as rain, snow, or hail. Some of the water that falls to Earth soaks into the ground and provides runoff to rivers, lakes, and oceans. The remainder—more than 2.5 trillion gallons—returns to the atmosphere through evaporation, and the process begins again. read more ...

an earlier attempt to explain rain from clouds - 'Being on Cloud Nine'.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Colorful Demise of a Sun-like Star

link post. click the title.

Ten Myths about cars

Popular Mechanics have a list of 10 myths your dad was wrong about.

Here is one:
DAD SAID: "Don't replace wiper blades, just clean them with solvent."
BUT: Mineral spirits and other petroleum-based solvents kill rubber. Occasionally wiping the blades with alcohol removes dirt, but the rubber blades still deteriorate with age and sunlight, and must be replaced regularly.

Jay Leno has a few comments on some of those "myths".

Friday, February 16, 2007

Cars too want to loose Weight!

Keywords: Traction, Emission, Balance, Weight Transfer

How does your car handle on slippery Ice? One of the factors is:[1] Front wheel drives handle better than rear wheel drives on slippery roads as the weight of the engine is on the drive wheels, which helps to improve traction. How does weight affect traction? Though we won't see the exact science of it, we can get a peek at the factors that play a role in the story behind traction.

Medium sized cars weigh approx 600 lbs less than 25 years ago. Mid-sized Cars now weigh around the ballpark of 3000 lb.

A debate carried in an article, carries the following points:

"vehicle quality is a better predictor of safety than weight" says an University of Michigan physicist Marc Ross. "It turns out that relatively inexpensive light cars do tend to be unsafe but more expensive light cars are much safer and are as safe as heavier cars and SUV (sports utility vehicle) models," said Ross. "Analyzing statistical things is sort of funny," Ross said. "If you choose categories so you get cheap cars in your category, then the death rates go up. What we found is that the price of a car is a much better predictor of risk in traffic accidents than the weight of the car."

"No matter what you do, you cannot repeal the laws of physics," spokesman for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Russ Rader said. "A larger, heavier vehicle is always going to be safer than a smaller, lighter vehicle. If you're looking at small cars vs. larger cars, small cars have twice as many occupant deaths as large cars." He noted, however, SUVs have a higher rollover risk and are disproportionately involved in single vehicle crashes.

Reducing the weight also brings with it other benefits: “A 40% decrease in car weight can result in a tremendous reduction in CO2 emissions,” says Ignaas Verpoest of Belgium’s Katholieke Universiteit Leuven.

How does weight interplay with traction? While driving, if you change direction towards your left, you get pushed to the right. This push transfers the weight on the left tires to the right. Your car has 60% of its weight (1800 lb) on the front tires and 40% on the back (1200 lb). So the car is unevenly loaded. When you make such a turn this push has a chance of pushing you over. The best protection against this comes by adding weight to the car: the greater the weight, the harder it is to transfer any weight from one side to the other. Some recommendations that come your way suggest placing weight on the rear ends to balance weight between the tires. Using a front-drive car, so the higher load on the front tires can be effectively countered.

There are other suggestions: Increasing the distance between the right and left tires (a person is more stable standing in "at ease" posture than in the "attention" posture). Also, reducing the Center of Gravity of the vehicle, or the "center of balance" of the vehicle (a Sumo wrestler or a Football player buckles down before taking a hit from the opponent). For something to think about until the next blog:

***For slippery ice, there is a lot more at play, on how the steering is used along with brakes, keeping off the gas pedals, etc. But these are things you do independent of the design of the car.

related: European cars are doing much better than U.S cars in mileage standards.