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Undergrads Build World’s Fastest Electric Car

If you need examples of cool things engineers can do in college, consider this: mechanical engineering students from Ohio State University work together building alternative-fuel race cars as part of the Buckeye Bullet team.

Not cool enough? Well, the team just broke the electric car land speed world record with their most recent vehicle, the Buckeye Bullet 2.5.

Racing on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah last week, the Bullet 2.5 reached a peak speed of 320 miles per hour and logged a two-way average speed of 307.66 miles per hour.

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Stickybot to the Rescue

Has life got you climbing up the walls? Well, soon you may be able to do it for real – and as well as a gecko.

Geckos are able to stick to walls thanks to a technique called dry adhesion.  Each toe of a gecko’s foot contains hundreds of flap-like ridges, and each ridge has millions of hairs.

The tiny hairs are 10 times thinner than a human’s and each one divides into even smaller strands called spatulae.  These split ends interact with the molecules of the climbing surface using the van der Waals force, and stick to it when pulled in one direction. If pulled in a different direction, however, the adhesive comes right off.

Now, Stanford University mechanical engineers have created a robot that will replicate a gecko’s sticky foot in order to climb walls.

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Engineers Drain Water from Alpine Glacier to Prevent Massive Flooding

Mont Blanc from 10,500 ft.

In 1892, an immense amount of floodwater broke free from an Alpine glacier, engulfing a nearby village. Today, after the discovery of more water accumulated beneath the glacier, engineers in France are taking novel steps to prevent such a disaster from recurring.

The team of specialists plans to drill beneath the Tete Rousse glacier and extract about 65,000 cubic meters of water (that’s enough to fill about 26 Olympic-sized pools!).

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Rice University Bioengineer Invents $240 Microscope

Traditional fluorescence microscopes (the ones you might find at your local hospital or in a medical lab) typically cost up to $40,000 and can take up more space than several desktop computers. That’s a problem for doctors hoping to advance medical care in underdeveloped countries.

Cost and space were two issues that recent Rice University grad Andrew Miller sought to address when he invented a portable, battery-powered fluorescence microscope that costs only $240 to make. The novel device is encased in durable plastic that Miller molded with the help of a 3D printer. It’s lighted and powered by a small LED flashlight.

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And Now: The Flame Throwing Trombone

Hot on the heels of the Jet Engine Schoolbus, it’s the next crazy DIY project: The Flamethrower Trombone!

Johnathan Crawford (also known by his YouTube username “Pyro”), gives a brief rundown of how he made this fantastical instrument (but not why), followed of course by an explosive demonstration.

Don’t try this at home, kids.

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