A blast from my motorsport past

I’ve mentioned a few times that I used to do rallying in South Africa when I was (much) younger (and a lot less wise).  I drove a Ford Escort Mk. 2 most of the time, with a two-door body and a 1,600cc engine with a manual transmission (stick shift, for Americans).  It had a few components replaced with upgraded versions for sporting use, but basically it was pretty much the same vehicle you could buy off any Ford dealer’s lot.  It’s probably long since been scrapped, but I remember it with fondness. I was therefore very happy to come across this video

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This one’s for Old NFO

Every year, fellow writer, blogger, and friend in meatspace and cyberspace, Old NFO, undertakes a pilgrimage to Augusta, Georgia, to assist in the running of the US Masters Tournament.  He always seems to enjoy himself, and regales us with stories of the fun and games when he gets back. Me, I’ve never played a round of golf in my life – not even a single hole.  I’m one of those who regards a golf course as an unconscionable waste of a good rifle range!  That being the case, I giggled loudly when I saw yesterday’s “Pearls Before Swine” comic strip.  Click the

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Ever heard of “rabbit hopping” as a sport?

I hadn’t either, until I came across this article about competitive rabbit hopping in Australia. A cute companion, a pest and a free lawnmower — that is usually how a domestic rabbit is described. Now ‘athlete’ can be added to that list, because rabbit owners are training up their furry friends to hop competitively, like a miniature version of the equine sport, show-jumping. . . . President of the Rabbit Hopping Society of Australia (RHSA), which was formed in 2013, Neil Worley, said hopping rabbits in Australia were yet to achieve elite status but were on the right track. Elite rabbits can typically

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A bit wobbly, perhaps, but ingenious!

I had to laugh when I saw this photograph on Gab: I can just see some poor tractor driver deciding that he’s going to keep the rain and dust out, no matter what!  I’m not sure about tight turns, though.  That cab’s got to be delicately balanced in position.  Turn too sharply, and a support might shear, and dump the occupants and the cab in the dirt.  As for practicality . . . well, one can’t have it all! Peter

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Yes, you really can compare apples to oranges

Old NFO sent me a link to an article proving that the old “apples to oranges” comparison is actually not as silly as it might seem.  It’s from Improbable Research, the people who bring us the annual Ig Nobel awards. … it is not difficult to demonstrate that apples and oranges can, in fact, be compared (see figure 1). Materials and Methods Both samples were prepared by gently desiccating them in a convection oven at low temperature over the course of several days. The dried samples were then mixed with potassium bromide and ground in a small ball-bearing mill for two minutes. One hundred milligrams of

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A voyage in a vacuum produces a different sort of vacuum

I didn’t know that the Dustbuster was the fruit of the Apollo moon landing program, but it seems it is, along with several other iconic products. The Dustbuster was only made possible thanks to Black & Decker’s work with NASA on developing a lightweight and power-efficient tool for the Apollo Lunar Surface Drill. The same motor design used on the 1969 moon landing was then used to create the Dustbuster. There’s more at the link. There’s a certain wacky circular logic to that.  Design a motor that will work in a vacuum – then use the same motor to power a vacuum-cleaner in atmosphere. 

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But . . . WHY???

It seems that a Chinese inventor has come up with a hair washing machine.  Looking at it in action, all I can think is that a conventional shower would be a whole lot less fuss and bother, and much more efficient! Also, the opportunities for mischief by naughty friends or family members are almost endless.  Think of tying the user’s victim’s shoelaces to the retaining device while he’s upside down, or dripping something unpleasant into his breathing tube while he’s inverted.  This has the potential to make washing one’s hair a survival experience! Peter

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Nifty, but what would you use this for?

I was interested to see this video of a new jumping robot.  The blurb reads: Salto-1P is a small monopedal jumping robot capable of continuous high-power hopping.  We demonstrate a new control algorithm that can land Salto-1P’s foot at particular spots on the ground like jumping on stepping stones or playing one-leg hopscotch.  We call this “deadbeat foot placement hopping control”.  Precise foot placement enables Salto-1P to jump on surfaces like furniture.  This work will be presented at the 2018 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems. Here’s the video. What I want to know is, what’s it for?  If

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A spectacular arrival

Take an international air show filled with spectacular flying displays.  How does one impress a crowd so jaded with aerial expertise?  This isn’t a bad start (or end, actually).  Here’s the USAF’s newest tanker aircraft, the Boeing KC-46 Pegasus, landing in true military style at the Paris Air Show. From the looks of it, that might have been a teeth-rattler!  The long-distance shot tends to minimize the sheer size of the aircraft.  Anywhere else but an air show, where display is the name of the game, that sort of landing might lead to penalties for the pilot(s) concerned. Peter

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A 150 mph lawnmower???

Several readers sent me the link to this report, or a similar one. Honda maintains its grip on the much-coveted record for world’s fastest lawnmower. It’s Mean Mower V2 is powered by a stock CBR1000RRFireblade SP engine, which allowed it to reach 100 mph in 6.29 seconds under the watchful eyes of Guinness World Record representatives in Dresden, Germany. The achievement bests Honda’s previous record, set with the original Mean Mower back in 2014, which saw a top speed of 116.87 mph. Mean Mower V2 clocked 150.99 mph. . . . The 200 hp and 84 pound-feet of torque provided by the

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