You gotta love America's obession with racing. I always find it hard to believe that NASCAR consistently ranks No. 1 in terms of viewer participation compared with other professional sports. The upside is, as this slide show well points out, there are lots of engineering takeways in tuning performance and on-the-fly design.
As an engineer, I am definitely fascinated by the racing world. With NASCAR, who knew? I thought they put big motors in regular cars and raced around. WRONG! These machines are really something else, not only the engines themselves but the chassis, balance, shocks, tires, fuel, safety systems, and so on. Indy cars and Formula One are really outta this world when it comes to electronics and sensors.
That's part of the reason I like to go see the races in person, to view the race cars up close, as well as the pit stop area. I've already been to the NASCAR Cup race this year at AutoClub Speedway in Fontana, California. I'll probably be going to the IndyCar season finale at the same 2-mile banked-turn oval track this September. A top level professional sports event is an all-day affair since there's so much besides the actual race.
The revolution of race car safety in the last 12 years is very impressive. That's a big part of the engineering since the cars are more than powerful enough and fast. Reliability has also greatly improved, not nearly as many mechanical failures these days.
If you see a hitchhiker along the road in Canada this summer, it may not be human. That’s because a robot is thumbing its way across our neighbor to the north as part of a collaborative research project by several Canadian universities.
Stanford University researchers have found a way to realize what’s been called the “Holy Grail” of battery-design research -- designing a pure lithium anode for lithium-based batteries. The design has great potential to provide unprecedented efficiency and performance in lithium-based batteries that could substantially drive down the cost of electric vehicles and solve the charging problems associated with smartphones.
Robots in films during the 2000s hit the big time; no longer are they the sidekicks of nerdy character actors. Robots we see on the big screen in recent years include Nicole Kidman, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Eddie Murphy. Top star of the era, Will Smith, takes a spin as a robot investigator in I, Robot. Robots (or androids or cyborgs) are fully mainstream in the 2000s.
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