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Gordon Murray reveals wildly audacious T.50s “Niki Lauda” track car

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The outrageously innovative T.50 is probably the most remarkable supercar of the modern age. It’s a rare bird indeed; the untainted magnum opus of Formula One engineering god Gordon Murray, whose last street car, the McLaren F1, is still widely regarded as one of the greatest cars ever made.

Setting out to be the most exciting, precise, involving and exhilarating car that ever wore a set of license plates, the T.50 redefined the concept of lightweighting in the supercar world, at just 980 kg (2,160 lb). Its howling, naturally-aspirated, 654-horsepower Cosworth V12 is a thing of great wonder, revving to a stratospheric 12,100 rpm and setting all kinds of records in the process.

And the aerodynamics are even more extraordinary, including a giant underbody fan that literally sucks the car to the ground. This is Murray’s homage to his most famous hour in Formula One: the Brabham BT46B “fan car” rolled out for the 1978 F1 season. The fan wasn’t technically illegal, but it stuck the car to the road so hard that it cornered some 30 mph faster than anything else if drivers had the cojones to throw it in that quick.

In its first and only race, driver Niki Lauda waltzed the BT46B ’round the outside of a helpless Mario Andretti’s Lotus and walked the field to a 30-second win. With the F1 paddock in uproar over the design, Brabham withdrew the “fan car” after the race and the concept was banned going forward.

There's every chance the Gordon Murray T.50 will go down in history as one of the greatest combustion cars of all time
There’s every chance the Gordon Murray T.50 will go down in history as one of the greatest combustion cars of all time

Gordon Murray Automotive

Today, on what would have been Lauda’s birthday, Gordon Murray Automotive announced a track-only T.50s “Niki Lauda” commemorating the late and legendary driver. Developed in parallel with the roadgoing T.50, this is far more than a cabin clearout and a colossal rear wing, although it’s those too. Murray says hundreds of components have been changed to make a wild, apex-devouring racetrack thoroughbred for the enjoyment of the 25 people that’ll get to buy one, and the many, many others who’ll be tugging their sleeves hoping for a ride in the back seats.

“We had no interest in achieving the ultimate lap time,” says Murray in a press release, “or creating an over-tyred and over-downforced spaceship at the expense of driver involvement, because ultimately you have to possess an F1 driver level of skill and fitness to get the best out of them.

The headline figures get even crazier than we expected; weight drops nearly 15 percent to a ridiculous 852 kg (1,878 lb). Power is up to 725 horsepower, with a giant ram air intake over the cabin and a “straight through” exhaust that will make this banshee of an engine scream even louder.

Downforce is up to 1,500 kg (3307 lb), nearly twice the weight of the car. Murray said he and the GMA team had it up over 1,900 kg (4,190 lb) at one point, but backed it off to “make the car more manageable.” If you thought the back end of the street car was outrageous to look at, then feast your eyes on the racetrack version with its hang glider-sized rear wing and gramophone head diffusers:

The back end is again rather a statement
The back end is again rather a statement

Gordon Murray Automotive

The rear wing is joined to the roof by a large fin, which adds yaw stability and helps push the car into a high-speed turn. The bodywork gains some massive new air intakes at the sides, plus barge boards behind the front wheels, larger splitters, wheel arch vents and brake cooling intakes. The fan isn’t a multi-mode extravaganza like the one on the street car; instead, like the BT46B, the T.50s uses the fan as more of a “blunt instrument,” locking it in high downforce mode.

The cabin is pared back, as you’d expect, with four-point race harnesses in place of seat belts and a tiny carbon steering wheel offering nothing but the basics. It keeps the same three-seat layout as the T.50 and McLaren F1, with the driver front and center for exceptional visibility and feel, and passengers relegated backward and out to the sides.

Distractions are very much kept to a minimum
Distractions are very much kept to a minimum

Gordon Murray Automotive

A vertical panel of old-school flip switches gives you access to the few gadgets that are available, but there ain’t many, and they’re all pretty track-focused. A single small screen gives you a digital readout of the essential information: speed, revs, gear position, settings, telemetry, lap time, tire pressures, g-force readings and a video feed from an inbuilt camera.

Murray has designed the car to be as user-friendly as possible, saying he wants it to be something you can enjoy at a track day without needing a pit crew. “It was essential to me,” he says, “that the T.50s Niki Lauda is easy to live with and enjoy. You will own the car, you will be completely in control of where and when you enjoy it. My vision is that owners will take it to a circuit, check the tyre pressures, climb in, fire it up and have fun. That’s the way it should be.”

Still, each car will ship with a full set of pit tools, including a fuel filler, and an invitation to come thrash the thing on track with the GMA team standing by to provide on-track tuition, chassis and aero setup, and a full day’s lesson from a technician on how to look after the thing and prepare it for a day out. And if you want your hand held, you can always get a tech or a team to come join you at whatever track you’re visiting around the world.

Rarely do you see one man's pure vision come through in a project as complex as a supercar, but then Gordon Murray has earned the right to be exacting
Rarely do you see one man’s pure vision come through in a project as complex as a supercar, but then Gordon Murray has earned the right to be exacting

Gordon Murray Automotive

It’s the ultimate fan car for fan car fans, and Murray doesn’t expect it to be rivaled any time soon. “With the direction of travel of the automotive industry,” says Murray, “it’s hard to imagine that there will ever be another car quite like this. Especially not one with a central driving position, a high revving naturally aspirated V12 engine and that is so lightweight. I believe it will go on to define its era.”

Indeed, as the world goes more and more electric, the position remains open for the greatest combustion-powered supercar that will ever be built. And depending on the judging criteria, the sheer technical audacity of the T.50 and its new T.50s sibling have earned them a right to be in that conversation. Truly innovative machines from one of the great legends of the automotive world, and the polar opposite of design by committee.

Enjoy a video below – particularly the bit at the very end. Just try to imagine being in the cabin of a beast that’s screaming like that. I’ve got goosebumps.

T.50s: The Unfair Advantage

Source: Gordon Murray Automotive

Source: https://newatlas.com/automotive/gordon-murray-t-50s-niki-lauda/

NEWATLAS

Street-based radar system designed to save pedestrian lives

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Many cars are now equipped with pedestrian-detecting radar systems, but those systems can still be blocked by obstacles such as buildings or other vehicles. A new setup is intended to get around that problem, by taking the radar to the streets.

The system is currently being developed as part of the HORIS project, by three separate branches of Germany’s Fraunhofer research group. It incorporates infrastructure-connected MIMO radar sensors, which could be installed at pedestrian-heavy locations such as bus stops, school zones or crosswalks.

Continuously scanning the area 100 times per second, each sensor unit is capable of first identifying an object as being a person, and then ascertaining the speed and direction in which they’re walking or running … if they’re moving at all, that is. Should the system determine that the person is heading toward the road at too fast of a speed – so that they’re about to step out in front of oncoming traffic – it emits a warning signal.

Such a wireless signal would be picked up by the vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) system in cars close by, causing an audio/visual alarm to sound/appear in any vehicles that might be about to hit the pedestrian. The system could perhaps even automatically activate those cars’ brakes.

One of the MIMO radar sensors utilized in the system
One of the MIMO radar sensors utilized in the system

A. Shoykhetbrod/Fraunhofer FHR

Additionally, even if no one were about to step onto the road, the system could still warn drivers to slow down if they were approaching an area where numerous people were milling about on the sidewalk. And because no cameras are involved, there shouldn’t be any privacy concerns.

Although the technology is still in development, it is already being demonstrated at a bus stop on the campus of the Technische Hochschule Ingolstadt university. There, a setup incorporating two radar sensors is able to monitor up to eight people at once, determining if any of them are moving toward the road.

Source: Fraunhofer

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Source: https://newatlas.com/good-thinking/street-radar-pedestrian-warning/

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NEWATLAS

Tree-fungus supplement could reduce fertilizer use in tomato crops

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Although Ceriporia lacerata fungus causes tree wood to rot, it also has a good side. According to a new study, adding the fungus to agricultural soil allows tomatoes to be grown using much less fertilizer.

Partially because they have such a long growth period, tomato plants require more nutrients than many other crops. As a result, farmers typically apply large quantities of chemical fertilizer to their fields.

Not only is this time-consuming and expensive, but it also reduces populations of beneficial microbes in the soil, plus it causes pollution as excess fertilizer runs out of the soil and into waterways. Additionally, even though chemical fertilizers may indeed boost tomato yields, they often reduce fruit quality.

Led by Jianguo Huang, scientists at China’s Southwest University instead looked to a specific strain of the Ceriporia fungus which is harmless to tomatoes.

Ordinarily, when growing on trees and when present in the soil, it emits enzymes such as proteases and phosphatases to obtain nutrients from the immediate environment. In the course of doing so, it frees up nutrients – including those previously delivered in fertilizer – which would otherwise have remained “locked up” within naturally occurring compounds in the soil. Those nutrients can then be taken up by plants.

In field tests, it was found that when the HG2011 strain of Ceriporia lacerata was added to both fertilized and unfertilized soil, it improved the nutrient uptake and thus the yield of tomato plants growing in that soil. Importantly, the fungus also enhanced the nutritional value and flavor of the fruit by increasing its sugar-to-acid ratio along with its soluble sugar and vitamin C content.

It is now hoped that compost incorporating the fungus could be used in an inexpensive supplement, which would reduce the need for traditional fertilizers.

A paper on the research was published this week in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Source: American Chemical Society via EurekAlert

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Source: https://newatlas.com/science/tree-fungus-less-fertilizer-tomatoes/

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Spongey filter releases purified lake water when set in the sun

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Ironically, many of the places that most require water purification have the least-developed infrastructure. That’s where a new filtration device comes in, as it’s activated by the sun – and it’s said to perform better than other solar-powered purification systems.

One of the most common ways of using the sun to purify water involves setting up what’s known as a solar still. Although there are several different types of solar still, they’re all based around the concept of collecting pure condensed water vapor that evaporates out of tainted liquid water as it’s heated by the sun.

While such setups are effective, they can sometimes take a long time to produce a decent amount of drinkable water. Seeking a faster-acting alternative, scientists at Princeton University have developed an inexpensive flat sponge-like device that draws in water from a lake or pond, then releases purified water when subsequently set in the sunlight.

At the heart of the filter is a polymer gel with a mesh-like microstructure. That gel is surrounded by a layer of a dark-colored material called polydopamine, which is in turn covered with a clear layer of an algae-derived substance known as alginate.

When the device is left to float in relatively cool water, the gel’s mesh remains loose and open. Water flows in through pores in the two outer layers, drawn to hydrophilic (water-attracting) molecules within the gel. The alginate’s pores are small enough, however, that they don’t allow pollutants or pathogens to pass through.

When the filter is subsequently removed from the water and placed in the sunlight, the dark polydopamine boosts its solar gain, causing it to heat up. As it does so, hydrophobic (water-repelling) molecules in the gel are drawn toward one another. This causes the gel to contract, essentially wringing the purified water out of the spongey material. That water is collected in a container placed below the filter.

In a test of the device, it was initially placed in the 25 ºC (77 ºF) water of the Princeton campus’ Lake Carnegie for an hour. It was then taken out and set in the sunlight for another hour, over the course of which it heated to 33 ºC (91 ºF) and released the water that it had soaked up. That water proved to be free of toxins and pathogens, including potentially harmful microbes that are found in the lake.

A paper on the study, which is being led by Prof. Rodney Priestly and postdoctoral research fellow Xiaohui Xu, was recently published in the journal Advanced Materials.

Source: Princeton University via EurekAlert

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Source: https://newatlas.com/good-thinking/water-purification-filter-sun/

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The newest Casio G-Shock smartwatch is the first to run Wear OS

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Google’s Wear OS platform could certainly use some more actual smartwatches to run on, and Casio has obliged with the GSW-H1000 – the first G-Shock smartwatch from the brand to come with Wear OS on board.

The watch has all the ruggedness you would expect from a Casio G-Shock timepiece: it’s shock-resistant and water-resistant down to a depth of 200 meters (656 feet).

It’ll handle more extreme pursuits like snowboarding and surfing as well as the usual running, cycling and indoor activity tracking. The titanium carbide finish on the back of the smartwatch is designed to resist scratches and damage, but the wearable is also designed to be comfortable, with a soft urethane strap intended to be both flexible and durable.

This is a smartwatch packed with sensors, too. Of course it can track your location via GPS, and how many steps you’re taking per day, but it also packs in a heart rate sensor, a compass, and an altitude and air pressure sensor. A total of 15 activities and 24 indoor workout options are covered in total.

There’s a neat trick with the display, as well – it’s a dual-layer affair that can switch between monochrome and color, so you can save battery life when you need to. Depending on how you use the screens and the sensors, battery life can reportedly be anywhere between one-and-a-half days and a month.

The display also features a customizable three-tier layout, so you can pick which bits of information you want to see at a glance – from heart rate to lap times. That’s on top of all the customizations Wear OS gives you, too.

The smartwatch tracks location, steps, heart rate and much more
The smartwatch tracks location, steps, heart rate and much more

Casio

This being a device running Google software, Google Assistant integration is baked right in, and you can use it to see notifications and to control media on your connected smartphone (both Android and iOS are supported by Wear OS, though the integration with Android and its apps is much tighter).

The Casio G-Shock GSW-H1000 is scheduled to go on sale in mid-May with a retail price of around US$700 – your color options are black with gray highlights, black with blue highlights, and black with red highlights and a red strap. While there are some decent Wear OS smartwatches out there, another one is very welcome.

Product page: Casio G-Shock GSW-H1000

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Source: https://newatlas.com/smartwatches/casio-g-shock-smartwatch-wear-os/

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