The Way Things Work

All around us, the fruits of science labor on our behalf to provide us with convenience, comfort, safety, and entertainment. From simple machines like wheels and levers we have come to a point where we have computers and space ships. How do they work inside, and how do the same principles make up so many different machines? Brilliantly illustrating the principles behind many of the most ubiquitous machines in the modern world, David Macaulay's The Way Things Work is a classic of science for the young and old alike.

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Traction Control

Traction control is a name for a computer-controlled system intended to stop wheels from spinning during acceleration. The term is also used (somewhat incorrectly) to describe yaw control, a system designed to stop a vehicle from turning when you don't want it to. Both systems work by watching information from wheel position sensors, typically the same ones used for the antilock brake system (ABS) and then doing either one or both of two things: reducing the engine power output or applying the brakes through ABS.

Automotive Technology

Like many Americans, I've always been fascinated by cars. I'm only 29 and I've owned something like fifteen of them; I currently have three (two in working order.) Over time, I've learned about cars for the most pragmatic reason possible: I cannot afford to take them to repair shops. Well, sure, I could afford to, but then I'd have to go without toys, and let's face it, life is about toys.

Disruptive Technologies

So, here I sit Watching 60 minutes and after a piece on the impending demise of GM and a bit with Osama's old bodyguard there was a feature about Americans working over 60 hours a week. Some of the people were working 80 hours end were actually happy about it. One couple's daughter's favorite Toy is a Blackberry!

So, where did we go from there? An ad from hallmark showing a group of Children clustered around a singing rabbit toy and ignoring the father figure who is trying to draw them into an Easter egg hunt.

MacPherson Strut Suspension

The MacPherson strut suspension is the most compact and lightweight independent suspension available. While it still has many of the disadvantages of other suspension systems, its space and weight savings, coupled with low cost, make it a very popular suspension for automobiles, especially in the front. It can be used for driven or non-driven wheels. In small automobiles, the front is typically a MacPherson system, and the rear is torsion bar, multilink, or double wishbone.

Hybrid Vehicle

A hybrid vehicle is one which uses a combination of electric motors and internal combustion engines for motive force in order to improve efficiency and decrease emissions. Hybrid versions of preexisting vehicles tend to achieve gas mileage in the range of twenty-five to thirty-five miles per gallon (MPG); Purpose-built gas hybrids often get 45 MPG city, and often lower mileage on the freeway. Dodge even made a hybrid Dodge Durango which got approximately 27 MPG, quite a coup for a full-sized SUV. Unfortunately, the vehicle had an US$85,000 price tag and was removed from the market for "lack of interest" — hardly surprising at that price.


Released in 1973, [[Honda]]'s CVCC system, or "Controlled Vortex Combustion Chamber", was a method of getting a near-[[stoichiometric]] [[fuel/air mixture]], increasing fuel economy, and decreasing emissions. This system was so effective that the Civic CVCC was able to pass California emissions requirements without a [[catalytic converter]].

Drive by Wire

Drive by wire is a term derived from the aeronautic term "fly by wire". It indicates that some portion of a car or other land-going automobile is not controlled by direct mechanical means, or at least not entirely controlled by direct mechanical means. The most common use of drive by wire is "intelligent" throttle control; The car's ECU determines your current speed, RPMs, and gear, as well as the pedal position and the rate of pedal travel, from the vehicle speed sensor, crank angle sensor, transmission switches, and throttle position sensor, then makes a decision as to how much air and fuel to deliver based on what it knows of its own performance in order to be as responsive and efficient as possible.

Disc Brakes

Disc Brakes, invented during World War II for aviation purposes (especially the demand of landing on carriers and other short strips), are the most popular and effective way of providing braking force for automobiles, aircraft, and even other wheeled vehicles like bicycles. Disc brake systems are reliable, easy to maintain, and light in weight, especially when compared to drum brake systems.

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