China’s Harmony train can now boast of being the fastest long distance passenger train on the planet. The Harmony express raced 1,100 km in less than three hours on Saturday, travelling from Guangzhou, capital of southern Guangdong province, to the central city of Wuhan. The journey previously took at least 11 hours [Financial Times]. That’s almost like traveling from New York City to Indianapolis by train in three hours. Even if you encountered a two and a half hour delay, which happened to one unlucky load of Harmony riders this week, you’d still make great time.
See the train in action in the video below:
The Christmas Day airplane bombing attempt has renewed the debate over full body scanners at airports. The Transportation Security Administration in recent years has tried out a series of “whole-body imagers” to look for threats that typical metal detectors can’t find. These systems are the only way that smuggled explosives, like the one officials say was brought on the Christmas flight, can be reliably found [Wired.com].
Privacy advocates are calling the full body scanners a “digital strip search” (take a look at this TSA image of a full body scan and you’ll get the idea). But some security advocates say that either patting down every passenger or taking full body scans are the only options to ensure certain dangerous items are kept off airplanes.
Scientists at MIT’s Senseable City Laboratory have designed a bicycle wheel that can give riders a boost when they need it most. Kinetic energy is released when a rider hits the brakes, and the new wheel, called the Copenhagen Wheel, captures that energy for later use. The new wheel uses a kinetic energy recovery system, the same technology used by hybrid cars, like the Toyota Prius, to harvest otherwise wasted energy when a cyclist brakes or speeds down a hill. With that energy, it charges up a battery inside the wheel’s hub [The New York Times].
The Copenhagen Wheel made its debut today in Copenhagen, one of the most bicycle friendly cities in the world and the site of the current international talks on climate change regulations.The special wheel can be swapped in for any bike’s rear wheel, and includes other bells and whistles such as an odometer, a sensor to track air quality, and a GPS. The wheel can even talk to your iPhone though a Bluetooth connection so you can check your speed, direction, distance traveled, monitor traffic, and find your biking buddies. The wheel is expected to retail for between $500 and $1,000.