Stories tagged boats

You know, I deliberately DIDN'T post this one two weeks ago because I was sure John Gordon was on the case. But Buzzers and poop stories go together like, well, flies on poop, so this is a must-read. Science Friday
Science FridayCourtesy Science Friday
"This toilet floats. It's an outhouse and sewage-treatment plant in one, processing human waste through a "constructed wetlands." Green builder Adam Katzman, the inventor and builder of the toilet-boat, says it's meant to be more inspirational than practical. His paddle-boat-toilet ("Poop and Paddle"), parked at a marina in Queens, demonstrates how sewage and rainwater can be converted to cattails and clean water. It's a zero-waste waste disposal system."
Jul
19
2009

USS SMM prepares to launch
USS SMM prepares to launchCourtesy Mark Ryan
I watched the Aquatennial's Milk Carton Boat Races today at Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis. One of the early heats included an entry from the Science Museum. Houston we have a problem!: Most of the ship's hull and all of the bilge had to be removed to correct flotation problems.
Houston we have a problem!: Most of the ship's hull and all of the bilge had to be removed to correct flotation problems.Courtesy Mark Ryan
I don't know who was sailing the ship but dang if science didn't prevail!

The boat looked sea-worthy enough on land but once it was placed into the water, it just didn't want to remain upright. But the hardy crew never despaired, and instead re-engineered the ship (ala Apollo 13) on the spot by removing the entire pesky bottom half and using only the deck to complete the race. Science prevails!: The crew of the reconfigured USS SMM limps bravely and safely toward the finish line with honor and dignity intact.
Science prevails!: The crew of the reconfigured USS SMM limps bravely and safely toward the finish line with honor and dignity intact.Courtesy Mark Ryan

They didn't win by any means, and at times it looked like they weren't using a boat at all, but they worked together to solve problems and got to shore safely.

Jun
10
2009

"Blerg," says the whale
"Blerg," says the whaleCourtesy Michael CATANZARITI
A Caribbean whale of an as of yet undetermined species did its best to humanely end the ridiculous lives of two British millionaires, but the attempt was ultimately unsuccessful.

By either striking the 47-foot yacht, or shrewdly allowing the yacht to strike it, the whale placed a small hole in the $245,000 boat, which began to slowly fill with the warm, salty water surrounding the British Virgin Islands.

After feeble attempts at stuffing pillows into the hole, the couple retreated to the lifeboat to preserve their ludicrous existence. One of the humans did, however, briefly return to the damaged and sinking vessel for a change of clothes, not wanting to be seen in her “sailing boots and shorts” when rescued. No doubt overcome with depression by this final site, the whale made no further attempts to separate the sailors from their lives.

An equally ridiculous pair of yacht owners rescued the shipwrecked couple some hours later. The whale has not been reached for comment. (It’s probably dead anyway.)

Feb
09
2009

What is this a picture of?: Simply put, it's the future.
What is this a picture of?: Simply put, it's the future.Courtesy Trilobite2
Check it out, Buzzketeers: Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh have created a boat that is propelled by the surface tension of water! Holy cats!

See, when something floats on the surface of a body of water, the surface tension of the water pulls equally on all sides of the floating object. If the surface tension is somehow disrupted on just one side of the object, however, the surface of the water on the other side will suddenly be pulling harder, and the floating object will move in that direction. The Pittsburgh scientists found that, by applying a small electrical charge, they could disrupt the surface tension of water on one side of a small boat enough that the boat would be pulled in the other direction. Pretty slick, huh?

The scientists got the idea from watching the way beetle larvae move across water. The larvae don’t use electrical pulses; they change surface tension behind them by bending their backs in a particular way.

When I say “a small boat,” however, I mean that the boat Pittsburgh developed is 2 centimeters long. And it moves at 4 millimeters per second.

If you were small enough to fit into a neat 2cm boat, and could only move about one inch every 6 seconds, I figure you’d be bug food. (If I were a bug, and found a tiny person in a tiny boat, I’d eat them. For sure.) And think how awful that would be. So that application is pretty much off the table. The scientists point out, though, that similar boats would be great as tiny, unmanned (obviously) vessels for monitoring water quality, and might even run on solar power. That seems like a good idea.

Hey—here’s a video of the boat in action. That looks bigger and faster than what was described. Maybe it’s bug-proof after all.

Nov
04
2007


Have fun!: I hope they at least got bigger life vests for us. (image courtesy of macroninja on flickr.com)
Obesity has invaded the Magic Kingdom.

Disneyland is having to revamp some of its boat rides, like the Small World, on account of people being too heavy for the little vessels. Designed and built in 1963, the boats were intended to handle men and women of the average weight at the time (175 and 135 pounds, respectively), but the heavier passengers of today are causing the boats to bottom out and get stuck in the flume.

Oh ho. Ho ho ho.

Disneyland has denied that the rides' refurbishments have any connection to obesity, saying that repairs over the years have caused the channels to become shallower at certain points. That could be true.