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June 13, 2011

How to build a 1,000 mph car

Excerpts from an article in the May 5, 2011 issue of The Economist follow.

This summer Daniel Jubb... will undertake the first full test firing of a hybrid rocket which he has designed to help a British team set a new land-speed record by driving at 1,000mph (1,609kph). Mr Jubb’s rocket, however, will also need the assistance of a powerful EJ200 jet engine from a Typhoon fighter aircraft and a Cosworth Formula 1 racing engine if Bloodhound SSC is to become the fastest thing on wheels.

Combining a rocket, a jet and a racing-car engine into one vehicle is engineering of an extreme sort, but record-breaking often demands that new problems be solved. Mr Jubb’s task was to build a rocket that could be used safely in a car, but was also controllable and could be switched off quickly in the event of an emergency.

The hybrid design which Mr Jubb has come up with uses a solid fuel called hydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene, a form of synthetic rubber used to make things like aircraft tyres. It is contained within the case of the rocket, into which is pumped a liquid oxidiser called high-test peroxide (HTP), a concentrated form of hydrogen peroxide which is relatively safe to handle. When the HTP comes into contact with a catalyst contained within the rocket, it turns into steam and oxygen. And it does so at a high enough temperature to ignite the solid fuel. This provides the added advantage of not having to build an ignition system into the rocket.

At first there will be a stream of steam coming from the rocket. But then ignition gets going and at full blast the jet and the rocket will each provide about half of the 210,000 newtons (47,000 pounds) of thrust needed to break the record. At about 750mph the car will go through the sound barrier. Wing Commander Green has been there before—and not only in a fighter plane. In 1997 at Black Rock Desert, Nevada, he drove Thrust SSC to become the first person to break the sound barrier in a car and set the existing land-speed record of 763mph. This time the Nevada desert will not be big enough, so the attempt will take place over an even larger expanse of flat ground at Hakskeen Pan in the Northern Cape in South Africa, perhaps next year.

Bloodhound SSC could reach up to 1,050mph. Wing Commander Green then has to slam on the brakes. After turning off the jet and rocket he will deploy an air brake at 800mph, parachutes at 600mph and finally put his foot on a car-type friction brake at 250mph—any faster and the brakes could explode.

Unusually for such an enterprise, all the technical details, including computer-aided design files, are available online (bloodhoundssc.com). Mr Noble is involving schools in the project to encourage interest in engineering as a career. So far, more than 4,000 schools are taking part.

So there it is: time to break out your own private skunkworks out back.

More videos here.

I love the message at the end of the video up top: "Our cars are not like your cars."

June 13, 2011 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Style Snaps


From the website:


The easy way to hem pants and skirts without sewing.

The reusable adhesive lets you attach Style Snaps™ to any fabric.

Simply apply, snap, and your work is done.

Adjust your hem length to your heel height.

A budget saver for growing kids, unruly lapels, and shirts that gap.



16 for $9.99 (pants not included).

June 13, 2011 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

BehindTheMedspeak: Sharing musical instruments can cause respiratory infections


According to a recent study published in the International Journal of Environmental Health Research (IJEHR), disease-causing germs can survive on commonly-shared wind instruments — clarinets, flutes, and saxophones — for one to two days.

Tufts University School of Medicine "researchers collected samples from 20 clarinets, flutes, and saxophones and found living bacteria as well as mold or yeast on all instruments. Wooden reeds and mouthpieces were found to harbor the greatest quantities of bacteria."

Another study published in the March/April 2011 issue of General Dentistry reported that "A total of 117 different sites, including the mouthpieces, internal chambers and cases, were tested on 13 previously played instruments of a high school band. Six of the instruments had been played within a week of testing, while seven hadn’t been touched in about one month. The instruments produced 442 different bacteria, many of which were species of Staphylococcus, which can cause staph infections. Additionally, 58 molds and 19 yeasts were identified," according to an article in Dental Tribune.

Over the years there have been numerous published case reports of musicians suffering lung problems which resolved only after cleaning and disinfecting their instruments and mouthpieces.

The abstract of the IJEHR paper referenced above follows.

Microbial contamination of musical wind instruments

Retrospective and prospective studies were used to assess the numbers, types and persistence of microbes that contaminate wind instruments. All previously played instruments (n = 20) harbored viable bacteria as well as mold and/or yeast. Reedinstruments consistently carried higher microbial loads than did flutes or trumpets. Instruments played within the previous three days bore typical mouth flora, while bacteria recovered after 72 h following play consisted of normal environmental flora. Prospective studies tested survival of potentially pathogenic bacteria (Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, Moraxella, Escherichia coli and attenuated Mycobacterium tuberculosis) when applied to reeds or following simulated 'play' of a clarinet. All species survived for a maximum of 24-48 h on reeds, except Mycobacterium, which persisted through 13 days. In simulated play experiments, test bacteria could persist for up to five days. These findings support the establishment of guidelines for decontamination of wind instruments and for sharing or transfer of these instruments among players. 

[via the New York Times and Tufts Now]

June 13, 2011 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Long-handled tasting spoon set


Bayong, Mahogany, Coconut, Mamales, Robles and Rosewood.

11.75"L x 1.25"W.


[via Svpply]

June 13, 2011 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

ShippingEfficiency.org's Carbon War Room: Is your boat a "dirty G?"

Screen shot 2011-05-31 at 9.34.13 AM

"The Carbon War Room has set up a website designed to rate ships as if they were refrigerators or boilers. Shippingefficiency.org uses data from IHS Fairplay, a vessel registry, to calculate how fuel-efficient each ship was at the time it was built. The energy implications are converted into letter grades, from squeaky-clean A to dirty G."

"The idea is that cost-, environment- or publicity-conscious companies could choose to use only those ships with the best grades. Ports could charge more efficient ships less for their services. Island nations sensitive to climate issues could choose the least carbon dioxide-intensive shipping lines. Kevin Conrad, Papua New Guinea's special envoy on climate change, says his country may consider such a step."

"The War Room says it will provide data on 60,000 vessels, giving their owners a new basis on which to compete. If the idea catches on, [companies] will be able to shun ships that emit a lot and reward the ones that don't."

[via a December 9, 2010 article in The Economist]

June 13, 2011 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Puntine Colorate (Italian Thumbtacks)


Box of 70: $4.

[via Svpply

June 13, 2011 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

"Any tweet mentioning iPad results in new female Bot followers wearing little clothing and with names ending in gibberish"



June 13, 2011 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Games Played in the 80s T-Shirt — Pac-Man or Trivial Pursuit?




[via Amy]

June 13, 2011 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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