Tag Archives: brakes

Time-Warp: The Unfolding Story of 4-D Printing

Image of printing press with legs holding a quill
It’s probably something like this.

4-D printing remains in its early stages, It’s certainly too early to tell if  it’s anything more than a buzzword, let alone if its promise will translate into practicality. But the sorts of people who bet on these kinds of things are betting on it.

And why not? Suppose a structure could unfold itself, like origami. Imagine if walls could flex or stiffen in response to shifting loads, or if a buried pipe could change shape to accommodate varying water flows — or to pump water via peristalsis, like your digestive system. Through 4-D printing, nothing is set in stone unless you want it to be.

How 4-D Printing Works

Going the Extra Mile (on the Same Tank of Gas)

Photo of a gas price sign.
Photo by Ildar Sagdejev

Call it ecodriving, hypermiling or plain old frugality, people today are trying every trick they can think of to wring a few extra miles from a drop of gas. Unfortunately, most fuel-saving tips range from the dubious to the downright dimwitted. Even the ones that work — such as making only right turns — veer into the ridiculous. In this Top 5 list, I’ve separated the classics from the clunkers and saved you the trouble of doing your own Mythbusters episode. Read on to discover….

Everyday Driving Tips to Save Fuel

Under pressure: Pascal’s many places in the sun

The Pascaline, an early digital calculator invented by Blaise Pascal
The Pascaline, an early digital calculator invented by Blaise Pascal

Blaise Pascal was the quintessential Renaissance man. After all, how many people have a computer language, a religious argument, a triangle, a mathematical theorem, a law of physics and a unit of pressure named after them? Here was a man who could not only pose a philosophical wager, but also invent the system for calculating its odds and a digital calculator with which to tally the results.

It is unusual for a prodigy to stray so widely and successfully from their first area of excellence, but, as Pascal put it, “The heart has its reasons that reason knows nothing of.”

What were the famous Blaise Pascal inventions?

Make it stop: Testing your braking distance

When we look at buying a car, we usually check out the gas mileage, the odometer, the standard equipment and, of course, the price. We rarely spare a thought for braking systems, because we presume (correctly, as it turns out) that the law requires manufacturers to engineer vehicles to stop within a certain safe distance.

There’s more to driving safety than counting car lengths or timing a 2 – 3 second following distance. Brakes have feel and balance. They work differently in warm, cold, wet or dry conditions. They fade over time. Nothing can substitute for knowing the distinctive braking characteristics of your vehicle. Do you know yours?

How to test vehicle stopping time

Brakes: How to check yourself before your wreck yourself

Giving your own brakes the once-over may seem daunting, but if you have eyes, hands and feet, you already possess the tools you need to catch some major problems before they spin out of control. In this article, I’ll show you how to use your body’s onboard equipment to inspect your fluid, pads and indicators, and take you on a quick tour of other tools you’ll need to check your fluid, bleed your brakes and test your proportioning valves.

What are the tools needed for brake tests?