Track

Taxicab data helps ease traffic

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: September 29, 2011   View Article

Traffic blows. It’s unhealthy and a waste of time. It is also a fact of life in almost every major city around the world, especially in fast-developing China whereas many as 20 million rural farmers migrate to the cities each year looking for jobs and a better life.

To help urban planners determine where to build new roads, subways, skyscrapers and shopping malls to absorb their new residents, researchers are turning to data collected by GPS systems in taxicabs.

Robot walks 40.5 miles non-stop

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: May 12, 2011   View Article

A four-legged bipedal robot named Ranger, about as tall as a human adult truncated at the hips, has walked 40.5 miles on a single battery charge without stopping or any human hand-holding, smashing a world record, researchers reported this week.

The robot was built and programmed at Cornell University. It started walking around an indoor track on May 1 just after 2:00 p.m. ET and came to an abrupt stop May 2 at 9 p.m., after 30 hours, 49 minutes and 2 seconds. In that time, Ranger made 307.75 laps around the .13 mile track at an ambling pace of 1.3 mph.

The science of horse racing

Publication: MSNBC.com   Date: October 7, 2010   View Article

Secretariat was the first horse to win the Triple Crown in 25 years when he crossed the finish line at the Belmont Stakes in 1973 with a lead of 31 lengths. His time of 2 minutes and 24 seconds remains an unbroken course record. The chestnut colt also set a still-standing record at the Kentucky Derby, the first leg of the crown. A timer malfunction at the Preakness Stakes put his speed on that track in question. His unofficial time of 1:53 2/5 has been tied twice, but never beaten.

“That horse was a phenomenon,” says Kenneth McKeever, associate director of the Equine Science Center at Rutgers University in New Jersey. Now the phenomenon has been immortalized in “Secretariat,” Disney’s feel-good movie about the racehorse and his dynamic owner, Penny Chenery Tweedy.

Oldest Land Walker Tracks Found – Pushes Back Evolution

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: January 6, 2010   View Article

The first vertebrates to walk the Earth emerged from the sea almost 20 million years earlier than previously thought, say scientists who have discovered footprints from an 8-foot-long (2.4-meter-long) prehistoric creature.

Dozens of the 395-million-year-old fossil footprints were recently discovered on a former marine tidal flat or lagoon in southeastern Poland.

Oldest Human Footprints With Modern Anatomy Found

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: February 26, 2009   View Article

About 1.5 million years ago, human ancestors walked upright with a spring in their steps just as modern humans do today, suggests an analysis of ancient footprints found in northern Kenya.

The prints are the oldest known to show modern foot anatomy.

The discovery also helps round out the picture of a cooling and drying episode in Africa that compelled tree-dwelling human ancestors to venture into the open landscape for food, said John Harris, a paleoanthropologist at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

5-Foot Giant Water Scorpion Once Roamed U.K. Shores

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: November 30, 2005   View Article

If you think scorpions are scary, try this on for size: a six-legged water scorpion the size of a human. Newly discovered tracks reveal that about 330 million years ago, just such a creature lumbered along the riverbanks in present-day Scotland.

The fossilized track is the largest of its kind ever found and shows these now extinct creatures could walk on land, according to Martin Whyte, a geologist at the University of Sheffield in England.

Animal Detectives: Decoding the Tale of the Tracks

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: February 14, 2005   View Article

Aspiring storytellers take note: Your backyard is full of tales about the daily trials and tribulations of the natural world.

The stories are embedded in the tracks made by the yard’s inhabitants, and winter’s snows make this season the best time to learn to read them, naturalists say.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach