Neighbors commonly compete over who has the greener lawn. But for Don Wales, who intends to break the current lawnmower land speed record of 130 kilometers per hour (80.7 miles per hour) in February, he who cuts fastest wins. Wales’s machine, dubbed Project Runningblade, will make the high-speed dash on sand but must then prove capable of actually cutting grass.
Photo: Itsuo Inouye
Like the mood lighting in this rail station? The Keihin Electric Express Railway Co., of Minato, Japan, certainly hopes its passengers do. It installed LEDs that glow “Don’t do it” blue in hopes of creating a soothing effect that will curtail the rash of suicides—people jumping in front of the rail company’s high-speed trains.
Photo: Mauricio Lima/AFP/Getty Images
Although this room is reminiscent of a docking bay on a sci-fi spaceship, it’s actually an earthbound chamber designed to block out external electromagnetic signals. Researchers use the room, located at Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research facility in São José dos Campos, to conduct experiments in which the slightest stray wave could throw off the results.
Photo: Tom Tschida/NASA/AP Photo
On 6 November, NASA handed over a US $900 000 check to David Bashford [pictured] and his colleagues at LaserMotive of Seattle, winners of the space agency’s Space Elevator Power-Beaming Challenge.
Photo: Tom Tschida/NASA/AP Photo
The prize presentation came after three years of failed attempts by groups whose elevators didn’t go all the way to the top. LaserMotive’s rig climbed a 900-meter cable suspended from a helicopter.
Photo: Gil Cohen Magen/Reuters
Drones, the sophisticated remote-controlled planes that first captured the world’s attention as aerial military spies, have been pressed into civilian service. One such application is its use as an airborne reader of water meters. Arad, a Dalia, Israel–based conglomerate, is using the planes to detect waste, such as that from leaky water pipes, helping municipalities save millions of liters of water a year.
Photo: Antoine Decaux/Getty Images
This plane, called the Solar Impulse, needs no jet fuel. The solar panels covering its 63.4-meter wingspan will provide enough power to take it up and keep it aloft. The first test for the aircraft, which can take off upon reaching 35 kilometers per hour and cruises at 70 km/h: circumnavigating the globe exclusively on energy from the sun’s rays.
Photo: Fabrizio Constantini/The New York Times
Automakers are trying to figure out where your hands, eyes, and mind go when you’re behind the wheel and your cellphone rings or you receive a text. Ford has built a simulator, shown here with a test engineer driving on a virtual road, that monitors things like eye gaze, head position, and reaction times. The data may be used to make an in-car system that responds to traffic when you don’t.
Photo: Joe Jaszewski/AP Photo
What do you get when you mix fancy sensor equipment and the great outdoors? For Rick Orme, a biologist with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, in Salt Lake City, it will be a wealth of data about the steelhead fish that make the Salmon River their home. Here Orme kneels in the middle of the river as he adjusts a 36.5-meter-long (120-foot) enclosure housing a $125 000 array of antennas.