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New Speed Record Set For Wind-Powered Vehicles

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the gone-with-the-wind dept.

Transportation 138

Hugh Pickens writes "Richard Jenkins reached 126.1mph in his Greenbird car on the dry plains of Ivanpah Lake in Nevada, setting a new world land speed record for a wind-powered vehicle. 'It's great; it's one of those things that you spend so long trying to do and when it actually happens, it's almost too easy,' says Jenkins. The Greenbird is a carbon fiber composite vehicle that uses wind (and nothing else) for power. The designers describe it as a 'very high performance sailboat,' but one that uses a solid wing, rather than a sail, to generate movement. Due to the shape of the craft, especially at such high speeds, the wings also provide lift; a useful trait for an aircraft, but very hazardous for a car. To compensate for this, the designers have added small wings to 'stick' the car to the ground, in the same way Formula 1 cars do. 'Greenbird weighs 600kg when it's standing still,' says Jenkins. 'But at speed, the effect of the wings make her weigh just over a ton.' Jenkins has also built a wind-powered craft that travels on ice, rather than land. 'Now that we've broken the record, I'm going back on to the ice craft. There's still some debate as to whether traveling on ice or land will be faster.'"

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138 comments

New speed record for wind-powered land vehicles? (3, Funny)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 5 years ago | (#27369699)

Obviously, they've never seen Aunt Flo's old Desoto with the busted crankshaft flying down the street during hurricane season ...

First Post!! (-1, Troll)

techprophet (1281752) | more than 5 years ago | (#27369703)

That's nice. If only it were a new land-speed record for all vehicle types.

Re:First Post!! (1)

interstellar_donkey (200782) | more than 5 years ago | (#27371649)

What, like land speed records for bigwheels?

Re:First Post!! (1)

Moofie (22272) | more than 5 years ago | (#27372399)

Yeah, because a supersonic land-sailing car is realistic.

Re:First Post!! (1)

techprophet (1281752) | more than 5 years ago | (#27373657)

Who cares if it's realistic? 200 years ago going faster than 60mph was unrealistic. As was going to the moon. Or breathing underwater.

Can't wait for my own... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27369707)

I've always thought that this sort of thing is pretty interesting. It would be nice to have a wind-powered car of my own!

Re:Can't wait for my own... (2, Interesting)

cbiltcliffe (186293) | more than 5 years ago | (#27369909)

And in Ontario, you'd be able to get your licence suspended for a week, and car impounded, all without burning a drop of gasoline.

Yet, if you pay no attention, drift 10 feet out of your lane, roll your vehicle, and kill two people, you can legally drive away from the accident scene.

Go figure......

Crap (2, Funny)

conureman (748753) | more than 5 years ago | (#27369711)

I hate breaking out the calculator to compare 600kg to a ton. Relative increase, I guess.

Re:Crap (3, Informative)

matt4077 (581118) | more than 5 years ago | (#27369729)

1 ton = 1000kg, welcome to the metric system.

Re:Crap (4, Funny)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#27369837)

Wait, so what's a megagram? Or is that 1024kg?

Re:Crap (2, Informative)

Ragzouken (943900) | more than 5 years ago | (#27369857)

A megagram is also 1000kg, of course.

Re:Crap (3, Informative)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#27369935)

I should have put a smiley :)

But I do live in the US and so I really wonder why people use "ton" in supposedly metric-standardized countries? I mean, I know that 1000kg is sort-of close to the old 2000lbs, but it is really ambiguous and there is the perfectly good Mega. At the very least, it should be spelled "tonne", right?

Re:Crap (1)

Ragzouken (943900) | more than 5 years ago | (#27369983)

Oh right. I've always wondered why we don't use Mega, too. I guess it's a relic of all the people who grew up using imperial measurements trying to connect the two. I was not aware that the different spellings of tonne had significance until now. Ton is already ambiguous (long/short) without metric tonnes though.

Re:Crap (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27370305)

A ton (known as a "long ton" in the US) is 2240lb i.e. 1016kg.
In Commonwealth countries, to make things easier to calculate, a ton is now generally taken as 1000kg.
In America, to make things easier to calculate, a ton is now generally taken as 2000lb i.e. 907kg.

The spelling is now largely irrelevant since nobody really remembers the old system that well. All official or scientific measurements are in kilograms anyway, ton and tonne are both just colloquial, it never needs to be precisely disambiguated in the contexts where it is used. For what it's worth, the metric approximation is far closer anyway.

Re:Crap (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 5 years ago | (#27372009)

But I do live in the US and so I really wonder why people use "ton" in supposedly metric-standardized countries? I mean, I know that 1000kg is sort-of close to the old 2000lbs, but it is really ambiguous and there is the perfectly good Mega.

So what is the metric equivalent of a reggaeton?

Re:Crap (3, Informative)

InfiniteLoopCounter (1355173) | more than 5 years ago | (#27370161)

1 ton = 1000kg, welcome to the metric system.

Not so fast. Do you mean a British ton [wikipedia.org] , US ton [wikipedia.org] , or metric ton(ne)? [wikipedia.org] And, for more confusion, see that there is also a French ton [st-and.ac.uk] .

Okay. I should stop being facetious and get my 7 hours of sleep (relative to current Earth's rotation period - has to be said, because it is slowing down).

Re:Crap (1)

jo42 (227475) | more than 5 years ago | (#27370681)

How many stones [wikipedia.org] is that?

Re:Crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27374085)

Time is currently defined by the hyperfine transition frequency of cesium, and not by the Earth's rotational period.

Re:Crap (1)

mysticgoat (582871) | more than 5 years ago | (#27370313)

s/ton/tonne/; # makes it right with the story.

"Tonne" is, I believe, always metric: 1000 kg (aprox 2,200 lb, or 1.1 ton (or 1.0 long ton).

This is almost the weight of half a cord of seasoned oak firewood, or half a cord of green fir. Which has only a chewbackan meaning in this context. But it does leaven the pedantry a bit.

Need more coffee...

Re:Crap (2, Informative)

polar red (215081) | more than 5 years ago | (#27370571)

it's the weight of 1 cubic metre of water.

Re:Crap (1)

Luthair (847766) | more than 5 years ago | (#27372087)

I thought it was your mom? zing!

Re:Crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27371611)

"1 ton = 1000kg, welcome to the metric system"

actually 1 tonne = 1000kg
1 short ton (American) = 907Kg
1 long ton (Imperial) = 1016kg

Re:Crap (2, Informative)

conureman (748753) | more than 5 years ago | (#27369733)

What I really hate is when TFA is misquoted in the summary, now I see that Jenkins said "tonne" which IS metric. D-oh!

Re:Crap (4, Interesting)

tick-tock-atona (1145909) | more than 5 years ago | (#27369997)

Yeah, well I hate breaking out the calculator (or worse, actually reading TFA) to convert 126.1 mph to something non-archaic. (202.9 km/h)

From wikipedia: "The name statute mile originates from a statute of the Parliament of England in 1592 during the reign of Elizabeth I. This defined the statute mile as 5,280 ft or 1,760 yards; or 63,360 inches. Both statute and international miles are divided into eight furlongs. In turn a furlong is ten chains; a chain is 22 yards and a yard is three feet, making up 5,280 ft."

Seriously, WTF?

Re:Crap (4, Informative)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 5 years ago | (#27370071)

It's probably for dividing up plots and things. It's nice to be able to evenly divide things into other things. Without the "funny measurements" you end up with lots of fractions, which were much less easy to deal with in the days when a calculator was a person, and most normal people were lucky if they could read.

Note also that an acre is 10 square chains, and 10 acres is a square furlong.

What is a mile? It's a least-common-multiple(ish) of several smaller measurements which happens to be a convenient size for people traveling on foot. The km is also a convenient size for foot travel, but you can only divide it by 2s and 5s without resorting to fractions.

Re:Crap (3, Informative)

T Murphy (1054674) | more than 5 years ago | (#27370657)

What is a mile?

The word "mile" comes from mille, latin for thousand (just like the milli- prefix). A mile is 1000 paces of the Roman legions (a pace is 2 steps). At least that is the basis for the general distance- the exact amount depended on who decided to define what exactly it meant (such as the English defining it as the above post points out).

Re:Crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27370663)

erm,

1km=1000m

easy to divide by 2, 3, 4, 5 (and a bunch of larger numbers, but that's normal. Also, I know that 333*3 isn't 1000 but I doubt that people traveling by foot care that they're off by one per mille)

Compared to that 8 furlongs can't be easily divided by 3 or 5 and 1760 yards or 5280ft are just a joke.

Re:Crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27370719)

It's probably for dividing up plots and things. It's nice to be able to evenly divide things into other things. Without the "funny measurements" you end up with lots of fractions, which were much less easy to deal with in the days when a calculator was a person, and most normal people were lucky if they could read.

So that's why it's still used in the US.

Re:Crap (1)

Fumus (1258966) | more than 5 years ago | (#27370733)

That's why he said "non-archaic". Now we're past people unable to read, and dividing into fractions is more convenient than memorising ten different measurement units.

Re:Crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27372091)

Right, so now Americans only use inches, feet, yards and miles. Yards are a little redundant, and we could do away with them, only messing up our footrace lengths and (American) football games. But an object you can hold is usually measured in inches. Something about the size of a room is measured in feet. And overland distances are miles. Conversion between inches and feet is often necessary, but there really isn't much need to convert between feet and miles on a daily basis, so the fact that 5280 is a difficult number to work with isn't a big deal. When it is, you use calculators (or like the scientists, just switch to metric in those cases).

Re:Crap (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 5 years ago | (#27371655)

It's nice to be able to evenly divide things into other things.

No! Everything must be multiples of ten!

Long live METRIC TIME!

"At the tone, the time will be 73 after 95... "
"BEEP"

Then, with time sorted out, we can start tackling the metric calendar... 10 months, with 100 days (10 weeks).

Sure, you'll have fewer birthdays in your lifetime, but its well worth the benefits of a 1,000-days per year calendar.

Left! Left!, Left, right, Left! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27371657)

What is a mile? Mille Passuum, one thousand double paces marched by the Roman army [wikipedia.org] . In other words, each foot touches the ground 1,000 times per mile marched. btw, the wiki article neglected to include the rod: 5-1/2 yards per rod, four rods per chain. These units are named for the tools surveyors once used to measure them.

Re:Crap (1)

rschwa (89030) | more than 5 years ago | (#27371299)

Get over it.

Near light speed? (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 5 years ago | (#27369731)

Greenbird weighs 600kg when it's standing still,' says Jenkins. 'But at speed, the effect of the wings make her weigh just over a ton.'

I doubt they're going fast enough for relativistic effects to increase their effective mass by 400 kg.

Re:Near light speed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27369773)

weight != mass

Re:Near light speed? (2, Informative)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 5 years ago | (#27369875)

weight != mass

Right - weight is the effect of gravity on an object of a specific mass. The effect of gravity doesn't suddenly change at speed. The vehicle dos NOT weigh more - gravity's effect on it is constant. What changes is the aerodynamic down-thrust. That doesn't change the vehicle's weight, just as an airplane doesn't suddenly weigh less than nothing when it takes off ... gravity still has the same effect on its mass.

Re:Near light speed? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27370003)

The downward force on the surface it is sitting has increased, which is the point they are trying to get across.

Stop being a pedantic ass.

Re:Near light speed? (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 5 years ago | (#27370245)

The downward force on the surface it is sitting has increased, which is the point they are trying to get across.

Stop being a pedantic ass.

Stop being an anonymous coward. Gee, that worked well, didn't it?

Look, it's very simple - for decades, race cars have used wings to generate downforce. Never have they said that it increases their vehicle's weight - to the contrary, they make it clear that it is because the vehicle is so light that they have to counteract the possibility of the vehicle going airborne by adding down-thrust (force - not weight) with a horizontal wing. Then we have slashdot, with its high standards of editorial journalism, repeating a really dumb idea - that the vehicle weighs 400kg more at speed. It doesn't.

Re:Near light speed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27371863)

Insofar as the vehicle itself is concerned, it may as well weigh an additional 400kg.

The actual 'weight' is largely immaterial for any practical purpose. What they're referring to here, yes, is the cumulative affect of the vehicles weight and the additional downforce. Sure, the vehicle may weigh only 600kg, but the actual components of the vehicle are 'feeling' 1000kg of strain due to the extra force.

If you extend your arms and rest one on top of the other, you don't weigh any more or less than if you exert downward pressure from the top arm onto the bottom one, but you can certainly feel the pressure difference.

In any situation where the weight of something matters, what really matters are the forces at work BECAUSE of said weight. In any other situation, mass is what matters, not weight.

Re:Near light speed? (1)

Bolzano-Weierstrass (1333835) | more than 5 years ago | (#27370057)

It's obvious that they're talking about the *effective* weight, ie. the total downward force, no need for excessive nitpicking

Re:Near light speed? (2, Informative)

Goaway (82658) | more than 5 years ago | (#27369791)

Weight and mass are different things. Their usage is correct.

Re:Near light speed? (4, Informative)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 5 years ago | (#27369853)

Weight and mass are different things. Their usage is correct.

Their usage is dead wrong. Weight is the effect of gravity on mass. The vehicle doesn't "weigh" more at speed - the effect of gravity on it hasn't changed. It just generates a down-force from the wing. To say that it weighs more is about as accurate as saying your weight changes as you jump up and down on a scale, or that an airplane weighs less than nothing when it's flying.

Since energy can be converted to mass, they would have to be going at a large percentage of c to actually "weigh" more.

Re:Near light speed? (2, Informative)

Tweenk (1274968) | more than 5 years ago | (#27369951)

Since energy can be converted to mass, they would have to be going at a large percentage of c to actually "weigh" more.

That's a non sequitur. Fast moving bodies do not have a higher "effective mass" because some of the energy is converted into mass. It's just an interpretation of the fact that as you approach c it takes more and more energy to accelerate. Another interpretation is that the mass is constant and the momentum does not depend linearly on velocity, but approaches infinity as the velocity approaches c.

Re:Near light speed? (1)

smoker2 (750216) | more than 5 years ago | (#27370141)

They never mentioned gravity. They said the down force makes it weigh more. Weight is measured with scales, and under sufficient down force the scales will read a higher value, thereby *weighing* more. The mass hasn't changed, gravity hasn't changed but the scales aren't lying. Large trucks have multiple axles to distribute the weight. Each axle measures less when *weighed* than if all the weight was on one axle. It is pedantic to claim the item doesn't effectively *weigh* less (or more). An items mass never changes, but how much it *weighs* changes under varying circumstances. If you got rid of the atmosphere the measured weight would change. Since air pressure is part of the definition [icllabs.com] of weight, increasing air pressure should changed the measured weight. Down force is effectively suck anyway.
All they were doing was demonstrating the amount of extra force by using a common metric. All that extra force is doing is counteracting any lift and leaving you in the same position you would be if the lift did not exist. If you really had 400kg extra force then the vehicle would suffer higher friction. As it is, the lift cancels the friction - balance is restored.

Re:Near light speed? (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 5 years ago | (#27370215)

Bullshit. The summary itself says that the downforce is generated by wings fixeed to the craft. The craft's weight does not change, you're just adding the force generated by the down-wing. Put a scale under the down-wing, get the 400 kg of force generated there, or are you going to argue that the wing now weighs 400 kg? Think of it -there's a difference between weight and force. We don't say a 10-pound bag of sugar has a force of 10 pounds, we say it has a weight of 10 pounds - if we throw it off a 10-story building, it doesn't weigh more when it crushes the car below, but it strikes with a force that's more than 10 pounds. It didn't suddenly magically weigh a half-ton. Stop mixing force and weight.

Your arm might only weigh a few pounds, but it can generate a lot more than a few pounds of force. When doing so, does it miraculously increase in weight? No.

Both you and the summary, and the original article, confuse mass, weight, and force.

Re:Near light speed? (2, Insightful)

TheLink (130905) | more than 5 years ago | (#27370743)

In practice people will hardly ever use your POV that weight is solely the effect of gravity on mass, since it's not that useful.

For most people, weight means "apparent weight". The force that a weighing scale (theoretical or otherwise) would measure if you could put the object on it.

Which in many circumstances will be something like:

mass * acceleration due to gravity - bouyancy due to fluid/air the object is in - the force due to the earth spinning + "other stuff".

"other stuff" could include downforce.

This is more useful since the object could break stuff it goes over if the "practical weight" is too high even if the m*g is less than the limits.

For example, for the speed record on ice attempt, they'll have to figure out whether the ice can take the max "apparent weight".

IMO, weight= m*g is best left for high school physics. People dealing with stuff in the real world will use weight = "apparent weight".

And they're not going to use two words where one word will do.

Re:Near light speed? (1)

fbjon (692006) | more than 5 years ago | (#27372545)

Hold it.

We all know the craft's mass does not change. The weight also does not change, if weight is defined as the total gravity force acting between the object and the Earth on average. Its apparent weight does increase however, where apparent weight is the total force pushing it towards the ground. "Weight" already contains far too many assumptions to be anything but a pretty nebulous measurement under any circumstance. Thus, in context, saying that the craft's weight increases is perfectly logical.

Re:Near light speed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27370875)

You're wrong. Your weight changes throughout a rollercoaster ride, and is zero in orbit. Your mass doesn't change. The "effect of gravity on mass" is ill-defined as it is arbitrary to consider only the contribution of the Earth to the vector sum. To compute it properly we would need to know the mass and position of everything in the universe.

Re:Near light speed? (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 5 years ago | (#27372277)

Actually, if the spacecraft were stationary instead of in orbit, you would be able to measure your weight on a scale, no problem. It would be sell, since your mass is further from the center of the earth, but it would still be the measurement of gravity on your mass. If you were at the center of the earth, your weight would be nothing (since there's an equal amount of the earth's mass pulling you in each direction), but your mass would still be the same.

As for your roller-coaster ride, that's the same as claiming you caught a 10-pound fish because you put your 2-pound fish on a scale and bounced it up and down - and one second it "weighs" nothing, and an instant later, it "weighs" 10 pounds. Weight is a static measurement - the measurement of the effect of gravity on a static mass. Force is a dynamic measurement - a measurement of energy, not mass. As I've said before, weight != force. The vehicle still only "weighs" 600 kg, and it generates an additional downforce of 400 kg via a horizontal wing (though why they didn't just call it a spoiler is beyond me).

Re:Near light speed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27372865)

if the spacecraft were stationary instead of in orbit, you would be able to measure your weight on a scale, no problem.

You mean, if we were to hypothetically build a tower from the Earth to the spacecraft so that the spacecraft would rest on it? Then yes, a scale would give us a number, but wouldn't the number be different if you built a tower from the Moon instead of from the Earth? Why did you choose to do it from the Earth?

that's the same as claiming you caught a 10-pound fish because you put your 2-pound fish on a scale and bounced it up and down - and one second it "weighs" nothing, and an instant later, it "weighs" 10 pounds.

Yet you're fine with calling it a 10-pound fish because you weighed it on Jupiter? Both are just equally lame attempts at bending definitions in order to report an inflated weight.

Weight is a static measurement - the measurement of the effect of gravity on a static mass

You've yet to define what you mean by that. How do you calculate the "weight" of an object at an arbitrary position in the solar system? What's different if the mass is non-static (moving)?

Re:Near light speed? (1)

Goaway (82658) | more than 5 years ago | (#27371363)

Their usage is dead wrong. Weight is the effect of gravity on mass.

This has been pointed out already, but bears repeating: That is not so. Weight is what a scale measures. Weight is quite literally the value you get when you weigh something.

Re:Near light speed? (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 5 years ago | (#27372195)

Weight is what a scale measures. Weight is quite literally the value you get when you weigh something.

So if I stand on a scale, but I'm also lifting up some of my weight on the doorframe, I suddenly weigh less? I don't think so, Clyde.

People would quite accurately point out that I was cheating, that my "weight" did not change.

Ditto with the claim that the vehicle gains 400 pounds of weight at speed - it gets additional down-force. Force != weight, or in this case, downforce != weight. Get over it. If I take a bag of flour, and throw it off the rooftop, it's going to hit with a force that is much higher than its' static weight, or it's weight when dropped only a foot. Again, weight != force.

Re:Near light speed? (1)

m.ducharme (1082683) | more than 5 years ago | (#27372643)

You really are a tiresome pedant. Let it go already.

Re:Near light speed? (1)

Goaway (82658) | more than 5 years ago | (#27373603)

So if I stand on a scale, but I'm also lifting up some of my weight on the doorframe, I suddenly weigh less? I don't think so, Clyde.

People would quite accurately point out that I was cheating, that my "weight" did not change.

Yes, you would weigh less. However, when people weigh themselves, they are actually interested in their mass and not their weight, even though casual English is not exact about the usage there. That is why people would point out that you are cheating - you are ruining the approximation of mass as weight.

Re:Near light speed? (4, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#27369897)

Not quite. The downward force when it is stationary is 600gN, the downward force when it is moving is 1000gN. The downward force due to gravity, also known as the weight, in both cases is 600gN. The mass in both cases is 600Kg. Neither the weight, not the mass, change. The mass could only change as a result of things being added to or removed from the vehicle, or as the result of relativistic effects (which are present at the recorded speed, but not significant enough to be measured). The weight could change if the mass changed, or if the vehicle climbed far enough from the centre of the Earth for the inverse-square attraction to be reduced (again, this is unlikely to happen unless it raced up a steep mountain; g varies a bit, but not enough to be worth bothering about, over the surface of the Earth). The downward force can change for a wide variety of reasons, but in this case due to a pressure differential caused by air moving more quickly over the underside of the stabilisers.

Note: In this post, g is used as little-g, the acceleration due to gravity on the surface of Earth, while g is the SI unit gram. This is not quite standard notation; they should both be represented by the same symbol, which is just plain confusing.

Re:Near light speed? (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 5 years ago | (#27370085)

Damn dude.

They used weight to describe a force, which puts them lightyears worth of miles ahead of every other tech-writer that makes it into the popular press.

Re:Near light speed? (2, Insightful)

TheLink (130905) | more than 5 years ago | (#27370779)

The "weight = m * g" definition is not very useful.

The only use for that definition I've had is in high school physics exams.

The more useful definition is weight = "apparent weight".

Where weight = the actual force the object would exert on the surface it's on.

And that is not m * g.

It's m * g + downforce - bouyancy - force due to the earth spinning, and all sorts of other stuff.

Re:Near light speed? (1)

T Murphy (1054674) | more than 5 years ago | (#27370861)

gg?

Re:Near light speed? (1)

mysticgoat (582871) | more than 5 years ago | (#27370911)

Parent post almost has it right. And is close enough for nearly any high school or undergraduate work.

There is a difference between weight and mass. Mass is intrinsic to the object being measured; weight has to do with the forces acting upon the object, which is often just the force of gravity, but sometimes involves other forces. And that's the part that parent post misses. Weight has always been a matter of human perception, and most especially of the human capacity to imagine a perception that has not been directly experienced.

Weight has to be defined as the effect an object would have upon the internal human scale at the moment in the question. This is a virtual scale constructed on input from the inner ears, stretch receptors in the skeletal muscles, and other elements of the proprioceptive sense. It has been refined by millions of years[1] of dealing with the very subtle sensations that you feel as the tree limb you are perched is just beginning to break, and other, similar, aspects of arboreal life. Most especially, it has been developed in considerations of whether the limb you are thinking about jumping to would support your weight. For a tree dweller, weight is very much a virtual thing used in thought experiments concerning critical decisions about taking the next step out on this limb, swinging on that vine, or jumping to a different tree. The concept of weight is strongly connected to the ability to perform thought experiments and other "what if" visualizations.

Weight is a very important concept to get right, or you lose historical continuity and trans-cultural meaning. If you think of it only in terms of mass and force, you will not understand the reasoning that developed the first trebuchets, and you will have more difficulty in communicating with persons of foreign cultures than you otherwise would. Such as persons from non-literate cultures who are highly skilled in maintaining oral traditions. Or girls who are taking the History of Art sequence.

We do weigh more when the elevator accelerates upward: we feel that. If you could lift the Greenbird off the ground when it was parked and again when it was moving at high speed, you would notice its increase in weight. And that kind of thought experiment is trans-cultural and easily done by any human of any time period. So weight is not only perfectly cromulent in this usage, its usage conveys more information to a wider audience (both across cultures and across time) than any talk of mass or forces would.

Of course we need to make allowances for those who were raised in the metric system, which is deficient for having no distinct measure of weight. They have to make do with what they've got, and too frequently have to try to describe the mechanisms of perceptual psychology (like weight) with measurements developed for the narrow fields of chemistry and physics. Their loss.

[1]Or if you prefer, we were designed 6,000 years ago and constructed with all the techniques of antique fakery so that it looks like we have been around for millions of years.

Re:Near light speed? (1)

BlackPignouf (1017012) | more than 5 years ago | (#27370021)

Funny, but doesn't the mass decrease due to relativistic effects?

Re:Near light speed? (1)

BlackPignouf (1017012) | more than 5 years ago | (#27370029)

Nevermind!

Re:Near light speed? (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 5 years ago | (#27370289)

Funny, but doesn't the mass decrease due to relativistic effects?

(obligatory spaceballs references)

It depends - did they go plaid yet?

I'm still combing the desert looking for the answer to that one, and I ain't found shit yet!

That will be answered in Spaceballs: The Lost Sequel - The Search For More Weight.

Just use the schwartz to get this statue off my PAW!!!! I don't give a shit about mass, all I know is it weights a fr****ing ton!!!

(closing scene) Related? To spaceballs? Oh shit, there goes the neighborhood!

OK, where is the nerd part? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27369753)

That article is really light on the details. Where is the article that actually is news for nerds?

At a minimum I want to know what kind of wind speed they needed to set the record.

Re:OK, where is the nerd part? (2, Interesting)

peragrin (659227) | more than 5 years ago | (#27369787)

30-40mph with gusts later in the day higher.

though on land it is easier. on water the record is about 64mph in 24mph wind.

okay so i am a sailing geek. I also say this yesterday.

Re:OK, where is the nerd part? (1)

VampireByte (447578) | more than 5 years ago | (#27371841)

Yeah, at first I thought it said Windows powered, guess I come to slashdot expecting news for nerds so my brain saw "win" and filled in the rest.

Water record broken too (1)

jmike (266847) | more than 5 years ago | (#27369801)

Re:Water record broken too (1)

fprintf (82740) | more than 5 years ago | (#27369995)

It is only a matter of time before the record is broken again, both for Class C (as the links says, probably soon to be held by this boat) and for overall, currently held by a kiteboarder. The difference between what happens on water and on land is really dramatic. The fastest boats are remarkably slower than the fastest cars.

BTW, it wasn't *particularly* windy during the record breaking attempts. Too much wind usually means gusty conditions and overpowering. What they needed was the right wind direction relative to the course selected, typically a broad reach (over the back corner of the stern). In the case of the Macquarie, they were only seeing 22-24 knots, which many places in the country see on a daily basis!

Re:Water record broken too (1)

interstellar_donkey (200782) | more than 5 years ago | (#27371883)

I'm not a physicist, so there's a lot I don't understand. For something to go over 100mph powered only by wind, wouln't the wind itself have to be over 100mph as well?

How do you go faster than the force that is propelling you?

Re:Water record broken too (1)

M8e (1008767) | more than 5 years ago | (#27373627)

How do you go faster than the force that is propelling you?

By going in a different direction relative to the wind/force.

The Ice Schooner (2, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 5 years ago | (#27369917)

This craft reminds me of the early Michael Moorcock SF story The Ice Schooner [geocities.com] :

Although part of the general repackaging of Moorcock's fantasy output around the Eternal Champion theme, The Ice Schooner is not really that closely linked to the other novels. Having a hero and a quest is not really enough; there are few novels in the genre by any author which would share these common elements.

The much revised novel is set in a future Ice Age, so severe that oceans of ice cover almost the entire surface of the Earth. On these frozen wastes sail great ship-like wind powered sledges, hunting the land whales evolved from the sea creatures of our own time. Konrad Arflane is captain of such a vessel fallen on hard times until he rescues a dying man out on the remote ice. He turns out to be the ruler of an important city, but more relevantly to the plot, he gives Arflane a quest, to find the fabled lost city of New York, a vision, in his daughter, and a ship, a great ice schooner, to captain.

Re:The Ice Schooner (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 5 years ago | (#27371949)

Much revised? What, are there multiple versions of the book?

And FWIW, whoever wrote that isn't too clued into the eternal champion theme - among other things, New York was clearly Tanelorn, definitely making The Ice Schooner yet another version of the eternal champion theme.

Re:The Ice Schooner (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 5 years ago | (#27373443)

If you click the link, you see that it was indeed revised.

And I think their description was apt. TIS is indeed not that closely linked to the Eternal Champion cycle, except in some packaging, as that review says. I read most of all the other incarnation books (including Jerry Cornelius), and I agree with that description.

Re:The Ice Schooner (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 5 years ago | (#27373835)

If you click the link, you see that it was indeed revised.

I did click and didn't see it. If you are referring to the multiple dates listed with respect to publication, that's hardly enough to support the claim of "much" revised it could simply refer to different publishers and trivial changes like the addition of a forward or clean-ups to make the serialization flow as a single novel.

I read most of all the other incarnation books (including Jerry Cornelius), and I agree with that description.

Well, that's powerful supporting evidence there. If reading more of the books is all that matters, I'm pretty sure I've got you beat with a much bigger eternal champion dick, one might even say more cock. For example, Jesus Christ is another incarnation of the companion to the champion. But, I'll stop swinging my dick and get back to hard evidence. See "The Eternal Champion" where John Daker - the only incarnation to be internally aware of all the other incarnations - has one (of many) schizo moments:

'Erekosë.'
'I am not Erekose...'
'Erekosë!'
'I am John Daker!'
'Erekosë!'
'I am Jerry Cornelius,'
'Erekosë!'
'I am Konrad Arflane.'
'Erekosë!'
'What do you want?' I asked.
'We want your help!'
'You have my help!'
'Erekosë!'
'I am Karl Glogauer!'
'Erekosë!'

Recap of event (1)

markov_chain (202465) | more than 5 years ago | (#27369945)

"Richaaaaaaaaaaaaaaard!"

wow; impressive (3, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#27370049)

growing up, we used to race a DN class iceboat. IceMice could do over 70 mph in a 30 mph wind. This is another 50 mph faster. Tip the craft on dirt, and you will know it.

Re:wow; impressive (1)

clockt (882520) | more than 5 years ago | (#27370279)

From the greenbird web site:

The Greenbird is two vehicles: a land craft and an ice craft, powered only by the wind. ... The project's aim was to break both the land and ice world speed records. On March 26, 2009, the Ecotricity Greenbird set a new world land speed record for wind powered vehicles of 126.1 mph. The team hopes to both better that new record, and continue to work toward breaking the ice record in Winter 2009/10.

Should be interesting to see how it goes on ice. Watch out, IceMice. The publicity should be good for the backer's wind turbine business; vertical urban wind turbines. I'd like some of them, if only to keep the pigeons on their toes.

Re:wow; impressive (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#27371015)

I was just checking up on some of that. Lake Geneva (~15 miles north of where I grew up; wonder lake, ill) now has something called the skeeter that does 100 mph. I suspect that this vehicle may blow it away.

as to the vertical wind turbines, I have always been amazed that they those did not catch on in the city. Struck me as the way to go for places like Chicago (not called the windy city for no reason) or Milwaukee (Summer fest is one of the best things about that town).

Re:wow; impressive (1)

wfstanle (1188751) | more than 5 years ago | (#27371519)

"Struck me as the way to go for places like Chicago (not called the windy city for no reason)"

Actually, Chicago got the moniker "the windy city" not for the weather. It was to describe its politics.

Re:wow; impressive (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#27372203)

Not really [slashdot.org]

Windy city (1)

wfstanle (1188751) | more than 5 years ago | (#27372801)

Actually there is some debate on that one. While it could refer to the weather it is just as likely due to the politicians (all the hot air). I will refer you to wikipedia.

120 mph is nothing (1)

wfstanle (1188751) | more than 5 years ago | (#27371491)

I had an Arrow class iceboat and regularly got over 70 mph. These speeds are pedestrian for iceboats. The DN class and Arrow class really don't take aerodynamics very far having completely open cockpits. Now the Skeeter class takes aerodynamics quite seriously having an almost enclosed cockpit and many other aerodynamic features. Its drag is quite low.

Actually, an iceboat was clocked at 143 mph and this was many years ago. The potential for impressive speeds on ice is pretty big.

For more information go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice_boat [wikipedia.org]

Re:120 mph is nothing (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#27372249)

Yeah, the skeeters came out after I was done. Interestingly, was developed by a guy that we used to race against on the c-scows (buddy melges who also owns the melges boat works; also a gold medal winner). Never went on that, but, I did occasionally go on a Nite (developed by another guy that we used to sail scows against). Never cared for that boat. If a nite tipped, I always felt like the mast would be tore off(or just have a stay be snapped), and half of your body was exposed. At least with the DN, you still have the nasty fall, but typically did not have to worry about the boat landing on you. Though I did hear of one guy on neighboring lake had his neck snapped from the fall. Thankfully, he died quickly.

Re:120 mph is nothing (1)

wfstanle (1188751) | more than 5 years ago | (#27372913)

Yes the sport has a reputation for some spectacular accidents. Where I sailed, on Lake St. Claire (Michigan), there was this BIG old iceboat called "Buckaroo". It was so big that it got away with jumping small cracks in the ice. (A sure recipe for disaster.) The end for it was the skipper got complacent and tried to jump a crack that was too large. The result was predictable... 60 foot iceboat to matchsticks in one step. There were 4 people on it at the time and although there were no fatalities, the shortest stay for the group was 4 days and one person was in the hospital for 4 weeks.

Here's the math question.. (3, Insightful)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#27370109)

Interesting, but totally useless for cars. The wing is way too tall for traffic. But for ships, its a different story. Question is: If it takes a 40 foot high wing to move a 1 ton car, how big of a wing would you need to move a 50,000 ton container ship? The heaviest sailing vessel yet constructed is the Star Clipper: Star Clipper [starclippers.com] , which is 5000 tons and traditionally rigged with about 50,000 square feet of sail handled by 20 crewman.

Re:Here's the math question.. (2, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27370139)

I also wonder if a rigid wing would work well on smaller sailboats. It might help more people use sail for travel where they now use motor launches. I don't think it's going to take over waterskiing any time soon, but that would be cool too.

Re:Here's the math question.. (2, Interesting)

Yacoby (1295064) | more than 5 years ago | (#27370307)

A rigid wing would be lethal in a harbor, as you can't take it down easily, and if the wind changed, suddenly you have a boat that is attempting to move and a boom swinging about.

Another large bonus of a fabric sail is that it will flap when my sail isn't set correctly or when I am sailing to much into the wind. A rigid sail wouldn't.

Fabric is lighter, and I assure you, the last thing you want is a lot of weight high up. It makes the boat a lot more likely to roll, and you already have a large surface area that the wind can push.

Re:Here's the math question.. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27370347)

A rigid wing would be lethal in a harbor, as you can't take it down easily, and if the wind changed, suddenly you have a boat that is attempting to move and a boom swinging about.

You're assuming that it can't be opened to let wind through or something.

Another large bonus of a fabric sail is that it will flap when my sail isn't set correctly or when I am sailing to much into the wind. A rigid sail wouldn't.

But strain gauges can let you know what's going on.

Fabric is lighter, and I assure you, the last thing you want is a lot of weight high up. It makes the boat a lot more likely to roll, and you already have a large surface area that the wind can push.

I hear you on the weight thing, I suppose it would only work for heavily keeled vessels (for their size anyway.)

Re:Here's the math question.. (1)

Yacoby (1295064) | more than 5 years ago | (#27370391)

You're assuming that it can't be opened to let wind through or something.

You still have a large flat object longer than the width of the boat that will always orientate itself to the wind. A huge weather vane in effect. Take a look at a harbor and see how boats are tied up. Right next to each other. You are not going to make many friends if you keep smashing the adjacent boats shroud.

Re:Here's the math question.. (1)

Mad_Rain (674268) | more than 5 years ago | (#27370303)

Question is: If it takes a 40 foot high wing to move a 1 ton car, how big of a wing would you need to move a 50,000 ton container ship?

I think a better question is: Why do you need to move a ship that big on sail power alone? While it would be cool to do so, using wind power in conjunction with conventional engines improves efficiency reducing fuel consumption between 10 and 35 percent [cnet.com] , which is a good start.

Simple math answer (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 5 years ago | (#27370677)

The exact same size of wing...

After all, you said nothing about the speed. Wait long enough and the ship itself will move in the wind.

Sailing faster than the wind (5, Interesting)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 5 years ago | (#27370201)

The physics that allows one to sail faster than the wind aren't completely obvious. Terence Tao wrote a very good explanation of the basics http://terrytao.wordpress.com/2009/03/23/sailing-into-the-wind-or-faster-than-the-wind/ [wordpress.com] where he also shows a nice theoretical construction that allows one to accelerate to any speedy (assuming that the universe is Newtonian).

Re:Sailing faster than the wind (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 5 years ago | (#27371981)

he also shows a nice theoretical construction that allows one to accelerate to any speedy (assuming that the universe is Newtonian).

Even to a Gonzales?

Two runs? (4, Funny)

srussia (884021) | more than 5 years ago | (#27370239)

Did they take the average of two timed runs in opposite directions in order to compensate for, you know... wind speed?

Re:Two runs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27370843)

Interesting? That's a big Whoosh! right there. Somebody needs to bitchslap the mods for that one. Speeds are ground referenced (it stays in contact with the ground), not airspeed referenced.

(For those Saturday mods who are confused...the parent may be appropriately modded funny, if at all)

Re:Two runs? (2, Funny)

barzok (26681) | more than 5 years ago | (#27370981)

No, I think you're the one who missed it.

In all other "land speed record" runs, the driver is required to make 2 runs on the course, in opposite directions, typically within a 1-hour span. This is to negate any "wind at your back" assist which would taint the results unfairly.

Obligatory comment... (1)

pig-power (1069288) | more than 5 years ago | (#27370341)

Anyone else thinking how much this car blows??
zing!

Relative Speed (1)

Starcub (527362) | more than 5 years ago | (#27370645)

There's still some debate as to whether traveling on ice or land will be faster.

I think if it weighs a ton, I could probably answer this question...

Umm if they go out of their way to use metric (1)

NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) | more than 5 years ago | (#27372887)

Shouldn't they use the metric unit of force for weight? (I mean give the weight in newtons, not kilograms. Yeah, I know just take KG and multiply by 9.8 to get newtons.)
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