What Really Happened to The Franklin Expedition?

Face to face with a Franklin expedition crew member, 140 years later

Captain Sir John Franklin was both a highly regarded and popular naval officer to his contemporaries.

A veteran of the Battle of Trafalgar, a young officer in the first ship to circumnavigate Australia, the discoverer and surveyor of the south-western end of the hoped-for North-West Passage, and Lieutenant-Governor of Van Diemen’s Land where he was widely praised for his humane treatment of both the settlers and convicts.

He was known as ‘The man who ate his boots’ after surviving his crossings of northern Canada, and his ship HMS Rainbow was known as ‘Franklin’s Paradise’ when he refused to inflict flogging as a punishment.

Until the tragedy of Captain Scott, Franklin was always the exemplar of polar exploration despite his expedition’s tragic end.

Daguerreotype photograph of Franklin taken in 1845, prior to the expedition’s departure. He is wearing the 1843–1846 pattern Royal Navy undress tailcoat with cocked hat.

The expedition

When the Admiralty decided to mount a sea-borne expedition to discover the North-West Passage in 1845, the 59-year-old Franklin requested that his name be considered to lead the enterprise.

At first, the Admiralty were reluctant to comply due to his age, but his fellow officers with polar experience, including such illustrious names as John and James Ross, William Parry, Frederick Beechey, and George Back, supported Franklin and he was eventually selected.

The expedition was to take part with HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, two especially adapted and strongly built former bomb vessels in which much polar experience had already been obtained.

Fitted with former railway locomotives as additional sources of power, they also had the ship’s screws and rudders designed so that they could be lifted clear of the water if they were threatened by ice. Several of the officers had polar experience, and the ship’s companies were all volunteers.

The expedition sailed on 19 May 1845, calling at Stromness on Orkney, and at islands in West Greenland’s Disko Bay. After exchanging signals with two whaling vessels in Baffin Bay, Franklin, his men, and his ships disappeared after heading towards Lancaster Sound.

Urged on by Jane, Lady Franklin, in 1848 the Admiralty and the American Navy sent out search expeditions. The search ships entered Lancaster Sound and probed westwards along the Parry Channel and the graves of three of Franklin’s men were found on Beechey Island off the northern shore of the Channel.

The Arctic Council planning a search for Sir John Franklin by Stephen Pearce, 1851. Left to right are: George Back, William Edward Parry, Edward Bird, James Clark Ross, Francis Beaufort (seated), John Barrow Jnr, Edward Sabine, William Alexander Baillie Hamilton, John Richardson and Frederick William Beechey.

Uncovering evidence

Eventually, in 1859, a search expedition under the command of Captain Francis McClintock found the evidence for which they had all been searching.

A ship’s boat along with skeletons and other remains were discovered on the south-western coast of King William Island, an island at the southern end of Peel Sound.

Of even greater importance, McClintock’s deputy, Lieutenant William Hobson, found a message in a cairn on the north-western shore of the island."Victory Point" note

William Hobson and his men finding the cairn with the “Victory Point” note, Back Bay, King William Island, May 1859.

The note explained that Franklin’s ships had been deserted after two winters locked in the ice ‘5 leagues NNW’ of the landing site. Franklin had died in June, 1847, and the survivors landed on King William Island in the hope of making their way overland to the south. None were to survive the journey.

In the meantime, a Hudson’s Bay Company employee, John Rae, return to England with artefacts from Franklin’s expedition he had obtained from the local Inuit.

He also brought with him tales of cannibalism he claimed to have heard from the same Inuit, claims that were utterly rejected by all those who had known Franklin and his men. None of the Inuit had visited the site of the Franklin tragedy and none would escort Rae to the site.

Despite being just a few days march away – and ignoring rumours that his own men had heard that there were survivors of the expedition still alive – Rae raced across the Atlantic claiming that he did not know of any reward for finding evidence of the Franklin expedition and, furthermore, claiming that he had discovered the North-West Passage.

A revival of interest

The story of the Franklin expedition gradually faded into history only to be brought back into the glare of harsh publicity when a 1984-86 Canadian expedition led by academics disinterred the bodies on Beechey Island.

To a blaze of media attention, and the publication of a best-selling book, it was claimed that an examination of the dead (and by extension, all the seamen on the expedition) had revealed that they had died of lead poisoning.

Observations that such an idea was manifestly nonsense were totally ignored and dismissed out of hand. It was this reaction that led me to mount four expeditions to King William Island in order to make my own search, and to come to my own conclusions.

During 1992-93 other academic-led Canadian expeditions visited Erebus Bay, the site where McClintock had discovered the ship’s boat. A large number of human bones were found in a cairn where they had been deposited by an 1878 American expedition.

Much to the delight of the expedition leaders, the bones not only ‘confirmed’ the lead-poisoning claim, but ‘cut marks’ on some of the bones equally confirmed the Inuit tales spread by Rae.

Once again, any opposition to the expedition’s conclusions were swept aside or ignored. In a bid to set the cannibalism concept in concrete, in 2015, academics decided that some of the bones had been ‘pot polished’ as the devourers of their messmates boiled the bones in order to obtain the marrow contained therein.

In 2006, the Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, decided that scientists employed by the government should not be able to communicate directly with the media or with to the public.

In addition, all government documentation and other data should be either destroyed or held securely against publication. Scientific research was cut dramatically and scientists were dismissed in their hundreds. Research facilities and government libraries were closed down.

Then, also in 2006, a Bahamas-flagged ocean liner sailed through the North-West Passage and, the following year, the Russians made a claim to the North Pole and other Arctic areas based on

‘a broad range of scientific data collected over many years of Arctic exploration’,

although actually based on little more than a soil sample taken from the seafloor beneath the Pole and the dropping of a titanium Russian flag in the same place.

The quest for HMS Erebus and HMS Terror

By 2013, the Prime Minister began to take a political interest in the sovereignty of the Arctic. That year, a government-sponsored underwater expedition was mounted to examine the wreck of HMS Investigator, a Franklin search ship that had been abandoned by Commander Robert McClure when he led his surviving men on foot and sledge through the Passage.

The ship was easily found (it had been spotted from the air many years earlier). This led to a number of expeditions, both government sponsored and privately funded, in search of Franklin’s lost ships.

Again, no government employee was allowed to contact the media – all such contact had to be made through authorised government sources, closely supervised by a small coterie of senior Government officials.

The only exception to this ruling was the Chairman and former President of the Canadian Royal Geographical Society, the same individual who wrote the book about the early 1980s expeditions to Beechey Island (although he had never been on the expedition), and a close friend of the Prime Minister.

When the find was publicly announced (by the Prime Minister) there was worldwide recognition of a great achievement. Medals were invented and awarded – even to those who never came anywhere near the discoveries.Stephen Harper

Harper appearing at a gala at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto to celebrate the discovery of HMS Erebus, one of two ships wrecked during John Franklin’s lost expedition (Credit: Alex Guibord / CC).

The Canadian Arctic was secure in the hands of its proper owners – the Canadian people. Sovereignty was established, and an election was in the offing.

Then a rather strange thing happened. Academics and, at least one ‘celebrity’ decided that the success had to be underlined – not to further emphasise the Canadian achievements (which no-one was challenging) but by launching a sustained attack upon Franklin, the Royal Navy, and the English.

An internationally renowned Canadian novelist – not known for her polar expertise – described Franklin as ‘a dope’.

An American professor described the Franklin expedition as

‘a failed British expedition whose architects sought to demonstrate the superiority of British science over Inuit knowledge.’

A professor who took part in the Erebus Bay expedition declared that ‘the question of lead poisoning is settled.’ Another author trumpeted that Franklin’s widow mounted ‘a smear campaign’ against Rae ‘supported by racist writing from the likes of Charles Dickens’.

Refuting the cannibalism story

There were many more attacks on Franklin and his men, all of which ignored the multitude of questions that need answers.

For example, from 1984 to 2018, despite the evidence against lead poisoning, the matter was spread far and wide and was considered unanswerable – yet, in 2018 a genuine study using the simple method of comparison concluded that their finding

‘…did not support the hypothesis that the Franklin sailors were exposed to an unusually high level of Pb for the time period’.

On the question of cannibalism, the academics were adamant that the ‘cut marks’ on the bones at Erebus Bay were unchallengeable proof that the British seamen ate each other. Their reason for this nonsense was that the Inuit were ‘a stone age people’ who did not have access to metal.

In fact, the local tribe had already achieved a reputation for aggressively driving away other tribes using weapons made from a mountain of metal that Captain John Ross had left on their doorstep. Evidence that pointed to female and young male bones amongst those found at Erebus Bay was, at first, wholly misinterpreted, and then disregarded.

As for the ‘pot polishing’ claim, it was quietly forgotten that bones left on the rough, gritty surface of the Arctic are subjected over many years to the strong winds that not only throw more grit at them, but are also rolled or are scraped along the ground.

During his investigations into the idea that the Inuit attacked the seamen, I was approached by a well educated Inuit woman who bluntly told him that ‘My people killed your people.’ Nevertheless, a statue has been erected to John Rae on Orkney.John Rae, by Stephen Pearce (died 1904).

John Rae, painting by Stephen Pearce.

The locating of the ships was a magnificent achievement, but there were some questions, nevertheless, to be answered. How, for example, could a heavy ship’s fitting detach itself from a sunken ship, roll along the sea bottom, up a beach slope, and throw itself into the shingle to be found by accident?

How could a diver by the stern of a sunken ship indicate in detail the unique arrangements of the ship’s propeller and rudder when photographs of the vessel clearly show that the stern had been completely destroyed?

Why is the size and design of the ship’s bell completely against the ‘custom of the Service?’ And why has the ship’s wheel shrunk from the large, double, version seen in the photograph before the expedition sailed, to the small version found that would have been more suitable for a sailing yacht?

How did the masts of one of the ships remain clear of the water long enough for a 21st-century Inuit to spot them, yet not be noticed by professional seamen like McClintock and others who walked along the same shore – then to have disappeared when the man returned just a few days later?

All these questions and many more, based on my thirty-six years’ service in the Royal Navy and four expeditions to walk across the ice and land of the scene of the tragedy, are explored in No Earthly Pole.

The $1m+, fully electric Aston Martin DB6

Lunaz electric Aston Martin DB6 Top Gear 2021

No, it’s not Bond’s Aston but do pay attention, because it is quite gorgeous. It is a fully restored Aston Martin DB6, filled with dreams, potential questions from surprised onlookers and a fair whack of electricity.

That’s right, Aston’s venerable 4.0-litre sixer has been relegated in favour of British engineering company Lunaz’s “proprietary modular electric powertrain”, developed in-house using Euro battery cells and motors. This is the same Lunaz that built an entirely delectable Bentley S1 and got investment from one Mr David Beckham.

The DB6 marks the completion of Lunaz’s desire to Electrify The Cool British Classics; we’ve seen that Bentley, a simply majestic Rolls-Royce Phantom V, and now there’s this. Back in 2015, we got a ‘holy trinity’ of LaFerrari, 918 and P1. In 2021, electrified classics. Sign o’ the times indeed.

As with anything Lunaz undertakes, the DB6 is inspected, weighed and measured, after which its engine and associated paraphernalia are “sensitively removed” and stored. The entire car is 3D-scanned and then stripped to its base metal underpinnings and reshaped “entirely in the client’s image”; that is to say, anything the client wants, the client gets.

As long as it’s electric, of course. The DB6’s powertrain has been specifically programmed by Lunaz to allow for “brisk initial acceleration with the requirements of a classic car that is very much built in the mode of a Grand Tourer”. It reckons on a range of around 255 miles, which is probably more than most DB6s cover in a year.

Lunaz electric Aston Martin DB6 Top Gear 2021
Lunaz electric Aston Martin DB6 Top Gear 2021

As you’d expect, the brakes, suspension and steering have all been “uprated”, while there’s air conditioning, wifi, sat nav and modern infotainment options. Indeed, other creative ideas are welcomed; Lunaz design director Jen Holloway said: “We are proud to introduce the quintessential British GT, remastered for a new generation.”

She used to work as a lead in Aston Martin’s Q-Branch, so there’s star-quality pedigree in customisation right there. You can go traditional, or contemporary, including recycled textiles and so forth. Maybe even some oil slicks or a bullet-proof windscreen if you ask nicely enough, though we wouldn’t hold our breath on headlight-mounted miniguns…

Speaking of which, Lunaz has confirmed that while it intends on building this DB6 for around $1m plus local taxes (with deliveries scheduled for 2023) it will also electrify, strictly upon application, an Aston Martin DB4… and an Aston Martin DB5. As 007 said in Goldfinger, ‘shocking, positively shocking’.

Lunaz electric Aston Martin DB6 Top Gear 2021

Could the new Vespa scooter concept reimagine the classic scooter as a modern battery-powered ride?

The gas-guzzling engine of yore has been replaced by a 30 aH lithium-ion battery.

It takes a lot of guts to mess with a bellissimo Vespa. The iconic scooter, which was designed by Corradino D’Ascanio and released by Piaggio in 1946, is beloved the world over. In fact, more than 16 million Vespas have been made to-date and garnered one helluva loyal fanbase. But, that hasn’t stopped one India-based design firm from penning a disruptive new take.

Mightyseed’s electrifying concept reimagines the classic scooter as a modern battery-powered ride. Like its muse, the “Vespa 98” still has a simple silhouette, step-through frame and artfully concealed mechanics. It also exudes the same playfulness for which the original two-wheeler is renowned. But it’s been equipped with a spate of futuristic features to bring the bike full speed into the 21st century

Mightyseed Electric Vespa

Mightyseed

The gas-guzzling engine of yore has been replaced by a 30 aH lithium-ion battery and hub-mounted motor. This not only gives the rider extra storage under the seat; it reduces the carbon emissions to zero. The rearview mirrors have been swapped for an intuitive LIDAR system, which is essentially a fancy sensor that allows riders to “see” what’s around them (road hazards, oncoming vehicles, pedestrians, etc.). And the seat has also been reduced in size.

Surprisingly, it’s the handlebar area where the designers have really switched things up. They’ve eschewed the Vespa’s signature round headlight in favor of a minimalist LED strip that sits atop the front fender, offering a futuristic digital display, which runs across the decidedly svelte bars. These features alone give the bike a next-gen feel that’s sure to appeal to tech-heads.

Mightyseed Electric Vespa

Mightyseed

The scooter’s outer shell sports a pale blue gloss finish, which is juxtaposed by two neon yellow pinstripes that run down the backside. It’s not the most groundbreaking paint job, but it’s appealing nonetheless.

“The Vespa 98 project was an in-house self-initiated project and the inspiration was Corradino D’Ascanio’s adored Vespa,” Mightyseed’s co-founder and principal designer, Bonny Sunny, told Robb Report. “We added the flavor to look relevant for modern times.”

The firm didn’t divulge whether this Vespa will roll into production. But count us among those hoping to see this Vespa on the road.

The megayacht Indah a 394-Foot Epic Beach Club That Expands Like a Bird’s Tail

It’s all thanks to the rotating transom bulkheads

Opalinski Design House Indah MegayachtOpalinski Design House

It’s no secret that beach clubs have become a popular addition to luxury yachts, but the one that adorns the new megayacht Indah is unlike anything currently on the seas. In fact, it’s more like an epic waterfront entertainment venue, offering enough space for you, your friends and even your friends’ friends to enjoy.

The oversized beach club is the centerpiece of the 394-foot concept, which was penned by Opalinski Design House. The vessel sports a sleek steel hull, an aluminum superstructure and a wave-piercing vertical bow. It also features some nifty, origami-like engineering to give it more space aft.

The patented design is equipped with rotating transom bulkheads that expand outwards to reveal additional decking. These extended decks are then raised to level with the swim platform to create a sprawling beach club. This space features sunpads for seaside chilling, along with a gym and sauna that are discreetly hidden behind tinted glass. Seafarers will also have direct access to tenders, which can pull up next to the openings in the bulkheads.Opalinski Design House Indah Megayacht

The vessel with the rotating transom bulkheads closed. Opalinski Design House

Beyond the beach club, Indah, which means “beautiful one” in Indonesian, features a massive 5,500 GT interior and a myriad of luxurious amenities. She can accommodate a total of 24 guests across 12 cabins and the generous owner’s suite comes complete with its own dedicated aft deck balcony. She can also sleep a total 32 crew.

Elsewhere, Indah offers a foredeck jacuzzi with sunbeds and a retractable sunshade, a sizable aft pool that overlooks the beach club, along with a haul of water toys. Owners can also choose to add a helicopter landing pad and hangar for further exploration at sea.Opalinski Design House Indah Megayacht

The vessel with the rotating transom bulkheads extended. Opalinski Design House

Billed as a “true ocean-going vessel,” Indah will be fitted with a diesel-electric propulsion package for cleaner and efficient cruising. She will be powered by four MTU16V engines that together deliver a top speed of 24 knots and a range of 7,000 nautical miles. She will also have solar generating surface coatings and vertical wind turbines onboard to produce green energy.

Although Indah is just a concept at this stage, the firm is currently offering to license the rotational transom bulkheads to selected manufacturers. That means we may be seeing many more ginormous beach clubs in the future.

Check out more renders of the megayacht below:Opalinski Design House Indah Megayacht

Opalinski Design House Indah Megayacht

Opalinski Design House Indah Megayacht

Opalinski Design House Indah Megayacht

Opalinski Design House Indah Megayacht

Opalinski Design House Indah Megayacht

Opalinski Design House

How big is the Sun? What Is the Biggest Star?

Our Sun is a normal main-sequence G2 star, one of more than 100 billion stars in our galaxy but although The sun may appear to be the largest star in the sky, that’s just because it’s the closest. On a stellar scale, it’s really quite average — about half of the known stars are larger; half are smaller. The largest known star in the universe is UY Scuti, a hypergiant with a radius around 1,700 times larger than the sun. And it’s not alone in dwarfing Earth’s dominant star.

The largest of all

In 1860, German astronomers at the Bonn Observatory first cataloged UY Scuti, naming it BD -12 5055. During a second detection, the astronomers realized it grows brighter and dimmer over a 740-day period, leading astronomers to classify it as a variable star. The star lies near the center of the Milky Way, roughly 9,500 light-years away.

Located in the constellation Scutum, UY Scuti is a hypergiant, the classification that comes after supergiant, which itself comes after giant. Hypergiants are rare stars that shine very brightly. They lose much of their mass through fast-moving stellar winds.

Of course, all stellar sizes are estimates, based on measurements taken from far away.

UY Scuti largest known star

“The complication with stars is that they have diffuse edges,” wrote astronomer Jillian Scudder of the University of Sussex. “Most stars don’t have a rigid surface where the gas ends and vacuum begins, which would have served as a harsh dividing line and easy marker of the end of the star.”

Instead, astronomers rely on a star’s photosphere, where the star becomes transparent to light and the particles of light, or photons, can escape the star.

“As far as an astrophysicist is concerned, this is the surface of the star, as this is the point at which photons can leave the star,” Scudder said.

If UY Scuti replaced the sun in the center of the solar system, its photosphere would extend just beyond the orbit of Jupiter. The nebula of gas stripped from the star extends even farther out, beyond the orbit of Pluto to 400 times time the Earth-sun distance.

But UY Scuti doesn’t remain stagnant. Scudder pointed out that the star varies in brightness as it varies in radius, with a margin of error of about 192 solar radii. These errors could allow other stars to beat out UY Scuti in the race for size. In fact, there are as many as 30 stars whose radii fit within UY Scuti’s smallest estimated size, so it shouldn’t sit too securely on its throne.

Nor does UY Scuti’s large radius make it the most massive star. That honor goes to R136a1, which weighs in at about 300 times the mass of the sun but only about 30 solar radii. UY Scuti, in comparison, is only about 30 times more massive than the sun.

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope reveals the supercluster Westerlund 1, home of one of the largest known stars. Westerlund 1-26, a red supergiant, has a radius more than 1,500 times that of the sun. (Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA)

Title contenders

So which star would take UY Scuti’s place if it weren’t exactly 1,708 solar radii? Here are a few of the stars that might dominate:

  • WOH G64, measuring 1,504 to 1,730 solar radii. It is a red hypergiant star in the Large Magellanic Cloud (a satellite galaxy to the Milky Way). Like UY Scuti, it varies in brightness. Some estimates have placed its radius as high as 3,000 solar radii. Variations are due in part to the presence of dust, which affects the brightness of the star and its related radius.
  • RW Cephei, at 1,535 solar radii. This star is an orange hypergiant in the constellation of Cepheus, and also a variable star.
  • Westerlund 1-26, which comes in at 1,530 to 2,550 solar radii. If the upper estimate is correct, its photosphere would engulf the orbit of Saturn if the star were placed at the center of the solar system. The star changes its temperature but not its brightness.
  • KY Cygni, at 1,420 to 2,850 solar radii. It’s a red supergiant in the constellation Cygnus. The upper estimate is considered by astronomers to be dubious due to an observational error, while the lower estimate is consistent with other stars from the same survey, as well as theoretical models of stellar evolution.
  • VY Canis Majoris, ranging from 1,300 to 1,540 solar radii. This red hypergiant star was previously estimated to be 1,800 to 2,200 solar radii, but that size put it outside the bounds of stellar evolutionary theory. New measurements brought it down to size. (Some sources still list it as the largest star.)
  • History of The Sun

    The Sun is by far the largest object in the solar system. It contains more than 99.8% of the total mass of the Solar System (Jupiter contains most of the rest).

    It is often said that the Sun is an “ordinary” star. That’s true in the sense that there are many others similar to it. But there are many more smaller stars than larger ones; the Sun is in the top 10% by mass. The median size of stars in our galaxy is probably less than half the mass of the Sun.

    The Sun is personified in many mythologies: the Greeks called it Helios and the Romans called it Sol.

    The Sun is, at present, about 70% hydrogen and 28% helium by mass everything else (“metals”) amounts to less than 2%. This changes slowly over time as the Sun converts hydrogen to helium in its core.

    The outer layers of the Sun exhibit differential rotation: at the equator the surface rotates once every 25.4 days; near the poles it’s as much as 36 days. This odd behavior is due to the fact that the Sun is not a solid body like the Earth. Similar effects are seen in the gas planets. The differential rotation extends considerably down into the interior of the Sun but the core of the Sun rotates as a solid body.

    Conditions at the Sun’s core (approximately the inner 25% of its radius) are extreme. The temperature is 15.6 million Kelvin and the pressure is 250 billion atmospheres. At the center of the core the Sun’s density is more than 150 times that of water.

    The Sun’s power (about 386 billion billion mega Watts) is produced by nuclear fusion reactions. Each second about 700,000,000 tons of hydrogen are converted to about 695,000,000 tons of helium and 5,000,000 tons (=3.86e33 ergs) of energy in the form of gamma rays. As it travels out toward the surface, the energy is continuously absorbed and re-emitted at lower and lower temperatures so that by the time it reaches the surface, it is primarily visible light. For the last 20% of the way to the surface the energy is carried more by convection than by radiation.

    The surface of the Sun, called the photosphere, is at a temperature of about 5800 K. Sunspots are “cool” regions, only 3800 K (they look dark only by comparison with the surrounding regions). Sunspots can be very large, as much as 50,000 km in diameter. Sunspots are caused by complicated and not very well understood interactions with the Sun’s magnetic field.

    A small region known as the chromosphere lies above the photosphere.

    The highly rarefied region above the chromosphere, called the corona, extends millions of kilometers into space but is visible only during a total solar eclipse (left). Temperatures in the corona are over 1,000,000 K.

    It just happens that the Moon and the Sun appear the same size in the sky as viewed from the Earth. And since the Moon orbits the Earth in approximately the same plane as the Earth’s orbit around the Sun sometimes the Moon comes directly between the Earth and the Sun. This is called a solar eclipse; if the alignment is slighly imperfect then the Moon covers only part of the Sun’s disk and the event is called a partial eclipse. When it lines up perfectly the entire solar disk is blocked and it is called a total eclipse of the Sun. Partial eclipses are visible over a wide area of the Earth but the region from which a total eclipse is visible, called the path of totality, is very narrow, just a few kilometers (though it is usually thousands of kilometers long). Eclipses of the Sun happen once or twice a year. If you stay home, you’re likely to see a partial eclipse several times per decade. But since the path of totality is so small it is very unlikely that it will cross you home. So people often travel half way around the world just to see a total solar eclipse. To stand in the shadow of the Moon is an awesome experience. For a few precious minutes it gets dark in the middle of the day. The stars come out. The animals and birds think it’s time to sleep. And you can see the solar corona. It is well worth a major journey.

    The Sun’s magnetic field is very strong (by terrestrial standards) and very complicated. Its magnetosphere (also known as the heliosphere) extends well beyond Pluto.

    In addition to heat and light, the Sun also emits a low density stream of charged particles (mostly electrons and protons) known as the solar wind which propagates throughout the solar system at about 450 km/sec. The solar wind and the much higher energy particles ejected by solar flares can have dramatic effects on the Earth ranging from power line surges to radio interference to the beautiful aurora borealis.

    Recent data from the spacecraft Ulysses show that during the minimum of the solar cycle the solar wind emanating from the polar regions flows at nearly double the rate, 750 kilometers per second, than it does at lower latitudes. The composition of the solar wind also appears to differ in the polar regions. During the solar maximum, however, the solar wind moves at an intermediate speed.

    Further study of the solar wind will be done by Wind, ACE and SOHO spacecraft from the dynamically stable vantage point directly between the Earth and the Sun about 1.6 million km from Earth.

    The solar wind has large effects on the tails of comets and even has measurable effects on the trajectories of spacecraft.

    Spectacular loops and prominences are often visible on the Sun’s limb (left).

    The Sun’s output is not entirely constant. Nor is the amount of sunspot activity. There was a period of very low sunspot activity in the latter half of the 17th century called the Maunder Minimum. It coincides with an abnormally cold period in northern Europe sometimes known as the Little Ice Age. Since the formation of the solar system the Sun’s output has increased by about 40%.

    The Sun is about 4.5 billion years old. Since its birth it has used up about half of the hydrogen in its core. It will continue to radiate “peacefully” for another 5 billion years or so (although its luminosity will approximately double in that time). But eventually it will run out of hydrogen fuel. It will then be forced into radical changes which, though commonplace by stellar standards, will result in the total destruction of the Earth (and probably the creation of a planetary nebula).

    The Sun’s satellites

    There are eight planets and a large number of smaller objects orbiting the Sun. (Exactly which bodies should be classified as planets and which as “smaller objects” has been the source of some controversy, but in the end it is really only a matter of definition. Pluto is no longer officially a planet but we’ll keep it here for history’s sake.)

    Planet Distance(000 km) Radius(km) Mass(kg) Discoverer Date
    Mercury 57,910 2439 3.30e23
    Venus 108,200 6052 4.87e24
    Earth 149,600 6378 5.98e24
    Mars 227,940 3397 6.42e23
    Jupiter 778,330 71492 1.90e27
    Saturn 1,426,940 60268 5.69e26
    Uranus 2,870,990 25559 8.69e25 Herschel 1781
    Neptune 4,497,070 24764 1.02e26 Galle 1846
    Pluto 5,913,520 1160 1.31e22 Tombaugh 1930

    More detailed data and definitions of terms can be found on the data page.

    More about the Sun

      • more Sun images
      • from NSSDC
      • Stanford Solar Center
      • Yohkoh Public Outreach Project, lots of good info, images and movies
      • The University of Michigan Solar and Heliospheric Research Group’s Web Space for Kids and Non-Scientists
      • Solar Data Analysis Center
      • Elemental abundances in the Sun
      • National Solar Observatory / Sacramento Peak Image Index
      • more info and links about sunspots
      • historical info about sunspots
      • Virtual Tour of the Sun by Michael Berger
      • The Sun: a Pictorial Introduction, a slide set by P. Charbonneau and O.R. White
      • The HK Project
      • Ulysses Home Page
      • Spartan 201, NASA’s mission to explore the Sun’s corona
      • IACG Campaign IV: including lots of good references

    Open Issues

    • Is there a causal connection between the Maunder Minimum and the Little Ice Age or was it just a coincidence? How does the variability of the Sun affect the Earth’s climate?
    • Since all the planets except Pluto orbit the Sun within a few degrees of the plane of the Sun’s equator, we know very little about the interplanetary environment outside that plane. The Ulysses mission will provide information about the polar regions of the Sun.
    • The corona is much hotter than the photosphere. Why?

    Interesting Facts about the Sun

      • The Sun is one of the millions of stars in the solar system. It is, however, larger than most (although not the biggest) and a very special star to us. Without the Sun there would be absolutely no life on Earth.
      • The Sun is 870,000 miles (1.4 million kilometers) across. This is so big it is hard to imagine, but it would take more than one million Earths to fill the size of the Sun!
      • The Sun is so big it takes up 99% of the matter in our solar system. The 1% left over is taken up by planets, asteroids, moons and other matter.
      • The Sun is about 4.5 billion years old. It is thought to be halfway through its lifetime. Stars get bigger as they get older.
      • As the Sun ages, it will get bigger. When this happens, it will consume some of the things close to it, and this includes Mercury, Venus and maybe even Earth and Mars. Luckily this is billions of years in the future.
      • The Sun is the centre of the solar system.
      • The Sun is 92.96 million miles (149.6 kilometers) away from Earth.
      • The Sun is made of a ball of burning gases. These gases are 92.1% hydrogen and 7.8% helium.
    • The sunlight we see on Earth left the Sun 8 minutes ago. This is the length of time it takes for the light to travel the distance between the Sun and the Earth.
    • When the moon goes around the Earth, it sometimes finds itself between the Earth and the Sun. This is called a solar eclipse and makes the Earth dark whilst the moon shuts out most of the Sun’s light. This only lasts for a couple of hours while the moon continues its rotation and moves out of the way of the sun.
    • In ancient astronomy, it was thought that the Sun moved. People believed that the Earth stayed still and the Sun rotated around it.
    • About 2000 years ago some began to think it was the Sun that stays still whilst the planets make a path around it. This only became an accepted theory around the 1600s when Isaac Newton proposed the sun-centric solar system.
    • The Sun is almost a perfect sphere. It is the closest thing to a sphere found in nature with only a 6.2 mile (10 kilometres) difference between its vertical and horizontal measurements.
    • The Sun’s core is extremely hot! An unthinkable 13,600,000 degrees Celcius!
    • The Sun has a very big magnetic field. It is the most powerful magnetic field in the whole solar system. This field is regenerating itself, but scientists are unsure how.
    • The Sun produces solar winds. These are a stream of particles from the Sun that stream out into space. This is why planets atmospheres are so important. They protect the planet from these solar winds.
    • The Sun rotates but not as Earth does. On Earth, the planet is rotating at the same speed no matter where you are. The Sun does not rotate like a solid object and is spinning faster at its equator than it is at its poles. It is complicated to say how fast the Sun is spinning but depending whereabouts on the Sun you are looking at it takes between 24 and 38 days to spin around.
    • The Sun has been both worshipped and feared throughout history by a variety of cultures.

Nokia through the years: 34 best and worst phones, in pictures

Nokia is back. The brand is being used on phones again after Microsoft retired it on its own devices a couple of years ago.

Finnish manufacturer HMD Global Oy is releasing new Nokia handsets, this time loaded with Android, and we’re extremely happy to see the famous label once again back where it belongs. It is even tipped to be announcing a refresh of the amazing, classic 3310. Huzzah!

To celebrate, we’ve handpicked some of our favourite Nokia mobile phones from the last 30 years or so. We’ve also chucked in some stinkers too.

So here are the best and, frankly, worst and weirdest Nokia handsets we all remember, as we look forward to the Android Nokia phones of the future.

Nokia 3310 (Any Network) Working Handset Blue Very Popular - *FREE POST*

Perhaps the most iconic of all Nokia handsets, the 3310 was the phone that really took the interchangeable covers craze to all-new levels. It was also a hardy device – we know as we accidentally lobbed a fair few of them across car parks and down streets, but they continued to work.

Image result for Nokia 6310 (2001)

Business types loved the 6310 and 6310i (and the similar looking 6210 before them). It was more professional looking than the 3310, but still offered a degree of customisation in an interchangeable plate at the bottom. The “i” version added a backlit screen and tri-band connectivity.

Image result for Nokia Lumia 1020 (2013)

Described as a Windows Phone 8-powered cameraphone, the 1020 notably featured a PureView Pro camera with a 41-megapixel image sensor. It was also the last Nokia phone made before Microsoft announced it would acquire Nokia’s phone business.

Image result for Nokia 808 Pureview (2012)

The 808 was Nokia’s last Symbian-powered smartphone. It was also the first phone to feature Nokia’s PureView Pro technology.

Image result for Nokia 6310 (2001)

Despite a clear demand for everything smart, Nokia went ahead with this affordable ultrabasic dual-band GSM mobile phone… in 2010.

Image result for Nokia N-Gage (2002)

The N-Gage was Nokia’s attempt to win over GameBoy users. It was a gaming device and mobile phone in one, though gamers scoffed at the phone and described it as looking like a taco.

Image result for Nokia N95 (2007)

Coming with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and 3G connectivity, the Nokia N95 was a truly “smart” phone for its day. The battery took some bashing however, thanks to all the tech crammed inside, and it needed charging often.

Image result for Nokia N81 (2007)

The N81 was marketed as a mobile gaming device – similar to the N-Gage – and was notable for being the only N-Gage 2.0 device with special gaming keys.

Image result for Nokia 5300 (2006)

The 5300 was reportedly the most popular (in regards to the number of units sold) of all the XpressMusic phones, a line of Nokia phones that was designed for music playback.

Image result for Nokia N70 (2005)

 

The N70 was a 3G mobile phone. It was announced as part of Nokia’s brand new line of N-series multimedia phones.

Image result for Nokia 6280 (2005) NOKIA

The 6280 was another 3G mobile phone. It had a slide form factor and 2.2-inch colour TFT screen.

Image result for Nokia 3250 (2005)

The 3250 was a unique mobile phone that featured a twist design, traditional phone keypad, camera, and dedicated music control keys.

Image result for Nokia 1100 (2005)

The 1100 was a basic GSM mobile phone. Nokia claimed in 2011 that the phone was once owned by 250 million people, making it the world’s most popular phone at that time.

Image result for Nokia 8800 (2005)

The 8800 was a slider phone. It was different in that it had a stainless-steel housing and a scratch-resistant screen.

Image result for Nokia N90 (2005)

The N90 was another phone under the N-series but stood out for its swivel design that transformed the device into four different modes.

Image result for Nokia 7710 (2005)

The 7710 was a smartphone widely known as being Nokia’s first device with a touchscreen.

Image result for Nokia 7280 (2004)

The 7280 was also called the “lipstick” phone. Announced as part of Nokia’s Fashion Phone line, it had black, white and red styling as well as a screen that transformed it into a mirror.

Image result for Nokia 7600 (2004)

The 7600 had a teardrop form factor. It was aimed at the fashion market and featured interchangeable covers.

Image result for Nokia 3300 (2003)

The 3300 was marketed as music playing phone but also featured a QWERTY keyboard.

Image result for Nokia 5100 (2002)

The 5100 was a rugged device with a rubber casing and built-in FM stereo.

Image result for Nokia 6800 (2002)

The 6800 was marketed as a messaging phone because of its unusual fold-out QWERTY keyboard.

Image result for Nokia 3600/3650 (2002)

The 3600/3650 was also the first phone in North America with an integrated camera. It was also different due to its circular keypad.

Image result for Nokia 5510 (2001)

The 5510 featured a full QWERTY keyboard and a digital music player. It even had 64MB memory for storing audio files. Tonnes of room, right?

Image result for Nokia 7650 (2001)

The 7650 was the first Nokia smartphone with Symbian OS.

Image result for Nokia 8210 (1999)

The 8210 was the smallest and lightest Nokia mobile phone available when it launched and reintroduced colourful, interchangeable covers.

Image result for Nokia7110 (1999)

 

The 7110 is nicknamed “The Swordfish Phone” because it was used by actor John Travolta in the film Swordfish. It was also the first mobile phone to come with a WAP browser.

Image result for Nokia 3210 (1999)

The 3210 was notable because it introduced the idea of colourful, interchangeable covers. There are claims over 160 million units were sold, making it one of the most popular and successful phones in history.

Image result for Nokia 5110 (1998)

The 5110 was made with business-consumers in mind, though it’s most remembered today for being one of the first phones to feature an addictive game: Snake.

Image result for Nokia 9000 Communicator (1996)

The 9000 Communicator was a messaging phone and the first phone under the Communicator series. It is famous for being used by actor Val Kilmer in the remake of The Saint as well as by actors Anthony Hopkins and Chris Rock in the film Bad Company.

Image result for Nokia 8110 (1996)

The 8110 gained notoriety as being the first phone with a slider form factor, but the design’s prominent curvature earned it the nickname “banana phone”.

Image result for Nokia 1011 (1993)

The 1011 is famous for being the first mass-produced GSM phone.

Image result for Nokia Cityman (1987)

The Cityman was one of the first compact phones. It became famous in 1987 when Mikhail Gorbachev, then-president of the Soviet Union, used a Cityman 900 to call Moscow during a press conference.

Image result for Nokia Mobira Talkman (1985)

From 1985 to 1992, Nokia manufactured the Mobira Talkman line of crazy-large cell phones you could carry with you (if your arms were strong enough to lift the massive block/suitcase attached to the phone).

Image result for Nokia 6 (2017)

The Nokia 6 marks the long-awaited return of the brand to the mobile sphere. Already available in China but coming to Europe in 2017, the 5.5-inch Full HD Android phone will be squarely aimed at the budget conscious.

Peaky Blinders Customised Lambretta Li125

Sex, drugs and ragtime music – Paul Douglas’ tribute to the hit TV series shows this unlikely combination translates into metal just as well as it does to the small screen.

You can change what you do, but you can’t change what you want

The man behind Peaky Blinders is Paul Douglas, who’s lucky enough to earn his living as the manager of a motorcycle dealership. With a lifelong love of scooters and access to some of the most powerful motorcycles on sale to the general public, it was only natural that he’d want to combine the two at some point.

‘Just enough’ spatter.

“The original plan was to build a Guy Martin themed custom,” explained Paul. “At the advance planning stage I realised it had already been done and to a very high standard. There was no point repeating that so I needed to rethink.

Blood will cause confusion if Paul ever takes a tumble!

“Although I’ve owned and built several customs over the years they’ve been mainly street racers and I was determined that this build would be a full blown muralled machine. Once I’d made that decision, to go with a Peaky Blinders theme, which is one of my favourite TV shows, was the obvious choice.

 

Set in Birmingham during the aftermath of the First World War, Peaky Blinders tells the story of the Shelby family and is multi-layered. On the surface it’s a straightforward and often violent gangland drama but look a little deeper and there are many sub plots including the damage inflicted to those who fought in the conflict, the breakdown of the British class system, women’s rights and political intrigue.

Although it received critical acclaim from the outset I must admit that before the photoshoot for this article it had bypassed me completely. If you’ve missed the TV show, starring Cillian Murphy, I’d strongly recommend it but be warned — it’s addictive and I’m not certain my wife was convinced that I needed to watch all three series back to back as research for this article…

 

When you plan something well, there’s no need to rush

For decades, Series 1 and 2 Lambrettas were regarded as the ugly cousins of the slimstyle model. More recently their ample curves and distinctive road presence have found a keen following, meaning that good examples are increasingly hard to find at a reasonable price. Paul said the basis for Peaky Blinders was particularly uninspiring: “One of the sales reps mentioned that he’d acquired a Series 2 frame and after a lot of nagging on my part he agreed to part with it. Then I gathered together the panel work and other components.

With the engine contracted out to tuning supremo Darrell Taylor and after the base coat had been applied by Paul Firth, it was to a local contact that Paul turned to for murals. “One of the best artists at the moment is Kev Thomas and he was my only choice for Peaky Blinders.”

 

Get yourself a decent haircut man, we’re going to the races

Having worked in the motor trade for most of his life Kev, based in Doncaster, has huge experience of vehicle refinishing but has only recently turned to airbrush work: “I was clearing out the garage a couple of years ago and found an airbrush that my son had got bored with. I tried my hand with it and was pleased with the results. My first commission was a helmet and things have grown from there. Paul’s shop took in a Judge Dredd themed Suzuki that I’d sprayed and he was impressed enough to get in touch and commission his Guy Martin theme.

Splash plate and rear mudguard by K2 before fitting

“I’d got to the stage of producing advanced mock-ups for the design when Paul got in touch to say that he wanted a Peaky Blinders scheme. I couldn’t have been happier as it’s my favourite show and I knew exactly how it should look.” Unfortunately there was a slight difference of opinion when he outlined his plans to Paul in greater detail.

“We both agreed that it should be in monochrome but Paul only wanted to feature the brothers whereas I was convinced that it should tell the whole story and that other characters should be included.” Fortunately the pair came to an agreement and in Paul’s own words, “Kev’s done a fantastic job, the best I’ve seen.” Show judges seem to agree with Peaky Blinders taking ‘Punters Choice’ and four second places at its debut in Bridlington last year.

 

You’ve got to get what you want in your own way

With engine and paint under way Paul turned his attention to the fine details. “I’ve used Keith Newman’s K2 Custom Classics on several projects,” said Paul. “The quality and standard of service are second to none.” With Peaky Blinders as the theme there’s an obvious motif to use – the classic razor blade. Sewn into their cap peaks the humble razor blade gave the gang both their name and principle weapon of offence. From the rear mudguard to horncast badge via tap and choke levers K2’s accessories bring a sense of menace to the design with the polished stainless steel complementing the predominantly monochrome paintwork perfectly. Spattered across the design are splashes of red, blood red. Red seat covers lift the design perfectly. “Originally I’d planned for black seats,” said Paul. “They just didn’t look right though. I wasn’t convinced that red would work either but I’m very pleased with the result.”

Central image is so lifelike I wouldn’t be surprised if it looked up.

Bringing the whole project together was Chris Swift. A ‘hobby’ scooter mechanic, Swifty is the only man Paul trusts to bring his scooter dreams to life – high praise indeed from a motorcycle industry professional. Although he’s the owner and builder of several custom scooters Paul is a reluctant showman and at Bridlington he actually denied being Peaky Blinders’ owner to avoid too many questions! “Although the scooters are based on my ideas I can’t take all the credit as they’re a team effort,” he says.

On thing’s for certain Peaky Blinders is a stunning tribute to the shown – even Thomas Shelby would struggle to take offence.

 

 

MAN & MACHINE

Name: Paul Douglas

Job: Motorcycle sales manager

Scooter club & town: Rotherham SC

How and when did you first become interested in scooters: I think all 14-year-olds in 1979 were influenced by Quadrophenia – following the older lads who had scooters, trying to fit in with parkas and suede boots – good days.

First scooter: GP150.

Favourite scooter model: SX200.

Favourite style of custom scooter: Anything that just says time spent on it.

Any stories: Riding behind my mate Hodgy we took a corner too fast and came across a humpback bridge with no time to slow down. The scooters were all over the place before we both came off. Hodgy couldn’t stop laughing.

Favourite and worst rally/event: Favourite is Bridlington, worst is Mablethorpe.

Superb detailing courtesy of K2 Custom Classics.

What’s the furthest you’ve ever ridden a scooter: Whitby, very cold.

What do you like about rallies/events: Seeing all the custom scooters and I enjoy the night life but get sent home early – I’m not good at drinking!

What do you dislike about rallies/events: Moaners.

Still to add at the time of our photoshoot were panel handles made by K2 in the form of cut-throat razors.

Your favourite custom/featured scooter of all time: Top Gun.

If you had to recommend one scooter part or item of riding kit what would it be: Best helmet you can afford.

What’s the most useless part you’ve ever bought for one of your scooters: Stainless steel runner board protectors.

Paul was fortunate to secure straight, rot-free panelwork.

Name of scooter: Peaky Blinders

Scooter model: Lambretta Li125

Date purchased & cost: £1400 for spares.

Time to build & by who: Once we got all the bits together it took Chris Swift about three months but it was started 18 months ago just gathering parts.

Engine spec: Kit: Monza, Crank: 60mm, Carb: Dellorto, Exhaust: TT, Porting & Dyno by: Darrell Taylor.

Paintwork & murals done by: Base coat by Paul Firth and murals by Kev Thomas – fantastic job.

Is there any powdercoating: By Keith Newman at K2.

Is there any chrome: Quality Chrome Hull.

What was the hardest part of the project: Getting all the bits to fit!

Do you have any advice for anyone starting a project: Always dry build first!

Is there anyone you wish to thank: Chris Swift for putting up with all the crap I bought while he was doing the build. Kev Thomas for the best paint job I’ve seen. Paul Firth, Keith Newman, Stuart Gulliver, Ernie Richardson, and, of course, my wife.

PAINTING A BLINDER

If you’ve never heard of Kev Thomas don’t worry, such is his reputation that he’s not needed to advertise for many years. Although full resprays still pay the bills, Key is devoting an increasing amount of his time to custom work. A self-taught airbrush artist, his preferred technique is a mixture of freehand work and careful masking.

Facebook: Keys Custom Paints. Email: kevscustompaints@gmail.com

A ‘flat’ produced by Kev of the Shelby Brothers. “Although there’s a lot of space on a scooter for murals there are very few flat surfaces. Every image needs to be distorted in order to look convincing.”
“I draw the main components on water based masking tape by hand and then peel away layer by layer until it’s time to add fine details freehand.”
“I start by printing off the images I’m going to use and positioning them on the scooter. Once th design is finalised I use them as reference, first to produce a pencil drawing and then to fill in detail.”
“Each of the images is painted individually and then masked off, enabling me to build up the effect piece by piece.”
“Once all the murals are in place I apply around seven coats of lacquer, producing an exceptionally smooth finish.”

Words: Stan

Photos: Gary Chapman

Words of wisdom: Thomas Shelby

Enjoy more Scootering reading in the monthly magazine. Click here to subscribe.

Porsche eBike X+: A bike that could change your way of life

Are you the competitive type? Are success, status and prestige important to you regardless of whether it’s work or play? And are you ready to fight for it? Then we’ve got some disappointing news for you: some fights can’t be won. But you don’t always have to always win anyway…

Porsche eBike X+ | € 9,911 | 140/140 mm (f/r) | 22 kg

Which Porsche do I buy if I’ve already bought over 200 of them? This is a question only a handful of people on this planet have the luxury of asking themselves. One of them is our good friend Erik Bötzle. Erik is the Managing Director of ESG EuropService, an international company specialising in the long-term rental of premium cars. Since Erik can remember he’s dreamt of Porsches – he calls himself “Porschista”.That quickly becomes apparent when you enter the premises of his company in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen – incidentally also the hometown of Porsche. Unobtrusive yet somehow ubiquitous: whether in the wardrobe, the picture frames on the wall, the display case, the magazine rack or in the fridge, everywhere you look, you will find Porsche memorabilia in the form of model cars, René Staud portraits, Christophorus magazines, t-shirts, baseball caps or jubilee champagne. But it doesn’t end there – you’ll find plenty of actual cars in the company’s various garages.

For Erik, Porsche is no longer just a car brand but a lifestyle. Intangible values such as the company’s history, service and countless experiences made driving previous Porsches are just as important as their raw performance, design and exclusivity.

 As this isn’t meant to be an advertisement for Porsche, let it be clear at this point: Erik isn’t always completely loyal. Occasionally he drives a Bentley or a Range Rover, and he’s also got a model BMW 3.0 CSL and Lamborghini sitting on his desk.

The answer to the question posed at the beginning, “Which Porsche do I buy when I’ve already bought 200 of them?” is a particularly tough one, because the singular original has been replaced by a much larger range. Of course, the purest of all Porsches, the 911, represents the core of the brand and is probably the car most people have dreamt of at one time or another. It’s a desire as unreasonable as it is emotional, but maybe one day it’ll simply be the reward for your success.* However, we have to warn you that there’s a new Porsche model to add to your wishlist.

In case you’re thinking Erik is a billionaire, that’s not the case (at least we don’t think it is). Most of the cars belong to the company for its high-end car rental business.

The new Porsche eBike X+ is an exclusive limited-edition eMTB with just 250 units available. It’s based on the Rotwild RX+, featuring a unique design and specced with only the best components that money can buy. It’s hard to believe, but it’s exactly this “Porsche” that fundamentally changed Erik’s life, as his wife Gabi tells us. Whether she sounds annoyed or happy is hard to tell. Both, perhaps. Since getting the eMTB, Erik has spent a lot of his evenings and lunch breaks in the saddle and it’s made him a more balanced and relaxed person. He has embraced this new world of ebikes full of enthusiasm and a childlike sense of wonder and curiosity, fiddling with the componentry and even buying himself a torque wrench for his workshop, his most proud acquisition. Yes, the stereotype that Porsche drivers are perfectionists, fascinated with mechanics and technology, is true. But Erik’s day to day life has changed in many more ways than that.

 His Porsche eBike X+ beats a GT2 RS in a drag race – at least from 0 to 2 km/h. After that the GT2 RS pulls away! But his grin is the same, whether he’s in the GT2 RS going from 0-100 in 2.8 seconds or on his ebike going from 0-15 km/h in 2 seconds.

The new ebike has also allowed him to explore completely new terrain and travel in a different way. Peak traffic? No problem. Finding a parking spot in the city centre? No problem. A little cardio during the lunch break? Go ahead. Need to get out of the office for a bit? With pleasure. A quick ride after a long day at work? Yes, please. Take in the sunset? Of course. Enjoy the feeling of freedom. Absolutely. Play in the woods like a child? Yes… A change in approach can help you solve a long list of problems, stress factors and obstacles when choosing the right tool for the job – and often an ebike is the best tool!

“There is nothing the busy man is less busied with than living.” Seneca knew how easy it is to forget how beautiful the little things and experiences in life can be when you’re too busy being in search of recognition, status and success. Quality of life has very little to do with your bank account balance. The true value of something is not measured by its price tag but by how much you’re able to enjoy and appreciate it.

Full-on Porschista: Erik’s bike equipment is stowed away in a premium Weekender bag made by Porsche Design.

Of course, sometimes Erik loads his bike into the back of his Panamera E-Hybrid and drives off to the Alps for a weekend of biking, but you don’t always have to travel far for worthwhile experiences. A short after-work ride on his home trails, a cold beer at the Bärenschlössle, the chirping of birds and the sunset on the horizon – it’s the little things that make life worth living!

But there’s more to it than that. An eMTB makes for a perfect practical SUV for the concrete jungle – safe, fast and sexy, attracting attention wherever you go.

Seeing and being seen: anyone who rides into the pedestrian zone with the Porsche eBike X+ will get envious stares thanks to its sustainable, sporty and prestigious image. That’s not (yet) something you’ll see every day.

The Porsche eBike X+ in detail

Erik is increasingly enjoying the things money can’t buy and appreciating what he’s already got. Sure, prestige is still important, but status isn’t everything to him any more. Erik has realised that the things he does and experiences in the moment are much more important than owning things or impressing other people. On his ebike, Erik is invisible and inconspicuous, yet somehow he also stands out amongst the crowds. People regularly look on with fascination, approaching him with interested eyes: “Is that a real Porsche?” “What does an ebike like that cost?” “Where can I buy one?” Yes. € 9,911. At the Porsche dealership and in select bike shops. You can tell he gets these questions a lot. During the time we spent with him in the city around the exclusive Breuninger shopping mall in Stuttgart, he was approached three times. Maybe Erik should change jobs and get into the ebike business too? From insiders at Porsche, he knows that Porsche plans to grow their ebike segment in the future.

The Porsche eBike X+ features sophisticated DT Swiss suspension, a Shimano XTR drivetrain and brakes, as well as the powerful Brose Drive S motor and a 648 Wh, removable battery. The four support levels can be customised using a smartphone app.

Forks DT Swiss F535 ONE 140 mm
Shock DT Swiss R535 ONE 140 mm
Drivetrain Shimano XTR 12-speed
Brakes Shimano XTR 203/180 mm
Handlebar Crankbrothers Cobalt 2 760 mm
Stem Crankbrothers Iodine 65 mm
Seatpost Crankbrothers Highline 125 mm
Tires Continental Mountain King Protection 29×2.3”
Wheels DT Swiss 29 HX1501 SPLINE ONE
Motor Brose Drive S
Battery IPU.R.660 CARBON 648 Wh
Sizes S/M/L/XL
Weight 22 kg

Keep cool!
The Air-Cooler motor cover’s vents help manage the Brose Drive S motor’s temperature.
Battery to go!
To charge the battery, the IPU unit can be removed from the downtube by loosening just one screw. If the bike needs to stay in the basement or the garage (next to the other Porsche), this is a really helpful feature for charging the battery off the bike!4
Comfort and safety
The Porsche eBike X+ offers 140 mm travel on the front and rear
Smooth
The Shimano XTR 12-speed drivetrain offers a large gear range and super-precise shifting!

 I couldn’t have imagined that eMTBing could be so much fun and have such an impact on my quality of life. Ebiking is awesome – of course, driving a GT2 RS is too! said Erik, and quietly sped away…

The great thing is that ebikes are so accessible – you’re out in the open and fresh air, you’re more flexible, it’s a healthier way to travel and it’s much easier to get into conversations with people. And is that not what it’s all about anyway? It is an illusion to think that we must always have our guard up and project a certain image. True winners don’t need to prove themselves but find fulfilment in what they do. This is what projects authenticity and authority. If you understand that, you’ll always be a winner – no matter if you’re driving a Polo, a GT2 or riding your eMTB**.

** we have to admit: it’s particularly easy with an eMTB.

If you’re interested in purchasing a Porsche eBike X +, you will have to be quick as the limited run of 250 bikes is nearly sold out. You won’t find them at your regular bike shop, only through Porsche Centers in Germany as well as some exclusive bike shops. If you’re interested, you can send us an email at porsche@ebike-mtb.com, and we will forward you directly to Porsche.


This article is from E-MOUNTAINBIKE issue #018

 

Classified: The New Boeing High-Tech Autonomous Fighter

Photo: Boeing
Photo: Boeing

The BATS plane is primarily intended, in its wingman role, to protect against electronic attacks

With every passing year, items of technology once confined to the realm of science fiction make their leaps from the pages of novels and comics and the silver screen of Hollywood into cold, hard reality.

The latest piece of futuristic technology to make the jump from the imaginary to the real is Boeing’s new unmanned fighter-like jet, developed in collaboration with the Royal Australian Air Force. The aircraft was revealed to the world in February 2019, and is called the Boeing Airpower Teaming System.

The BATS – also called the Loyal Wingman – was developed in Australia, making it that nation’s first domestically-developed military aircraft since the Second World War. Australia has been, though, a perfect place to develop the BATS plane, as this is Boeing’s largest base of operations outside of the US.

Boeing ATS. Photo: Boeing
Boeing ATS. Photo: Boeing

Australia also has a lot of empty airspace in which prototypes can be tested. The BATS project is thought to be Boeing’s largest investment in the development of a new aircraft outside the United States.

The concept of an unmanned plane is hardly a new one. Unmanned aerial vehicles, otherwise known as drones or UAVs, have been used in a military context since WWI, although the current crop of high-tech drones, based on technological advances made in the 1980s, differs radically from earlier UAVs.

What is significant about Boeing’s new autonomous fighter-like jet, though, is just how much more advanced it is than anything else in the drone field.

Boeing ATS with AEWC. Photo: Boeing
Boeing ATS with AEWC. Photo: Boeing

The BATS fighter-like jet is roughly the same size as a normal fighter jet – it is around 11 meters long (38 feet), with a body and wingspan roughly proportional in size to many current fighter jets used in the Royal Australian Air Force.

The reason it is referred to as a “fighter-like” jet is that the prototype has not been designed to be armed in the traditional manner of a standard fighter jet – although the possibility of arming a BATS plane with missiles and bombs in the future remains open.

Rather, the current focus of the BATS plane is to fly alongside manned fighter jets, hence the “Loyal Wingman” moniker. The designers envision, in one possible example, a squadron of four to six of their autonomous BATS planes flying alongside a P-8A Poseidon, E-7 Wedgetail or F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.

Boeing ATS with SuperHornet. Photo: Boeing
Boeing ATS with SuperHornet. Photo: Boeing

The BATS plane is primarily intended, in its wingman role, to protect against electronic attacks as well as conduct surveillance and reconnaissance missions in places deemed to dangerous to send manned aircraft, but could very easily be modified to take on a more aggressive role. While it is unlikely that this model could go as far as getting involved in dogfights with manned jets, the possibility of arming it for a number of offensive missions is there.

One reason a large amount of money has been poured into the BATS project (Boeing has declined to say just how much) is because of the potential such an aircraft offers in terms of overcoming human-piloted fighter jet limitations.

A model of the unmanned Boeing Airpower Teaming System was unveiled at the Australian International Airshow Feb. 27. The Boeing Airpower Teaming System will provide multi-mission support for air control missions. (Boeing photo)
A model of the unmanned Boeing Airpower Teaming System was unveiled at the Australian International Airshow Feb. 27. The Boeing Airpower Teaming System will provide multi-mission support for air control missions. (Boeing photo)Human pilots, even the most gifted and highly trained, can only take a certain number of G’s (gravitational forces), fly for a certain length of time without becoming tired, and can only process a certain amount of information at once. A plane piloted by AI (artificial intelligence), or even remotely, could overcome a number of these hampering factors.

Photo: Boeing
Photo: Boeing

The BATS plane currently has a range of 2,000 nautical miles, and is powered by a commercially-available jet engine. It uses standard runways for landing and take-off, and can quite easily be modified to operate from an aircraft carrier at sea. While Boeing has not confirmed that the BATS plane will be able to fly at supersonic speeds, this does seem like a likely possibility.

Another major advantage of the BATS plane is its price. While the exact price of one of them has yet to be announced, Boeing has described the BATS as having a “very disruptive price point” and has sung its praises for featuring “fighter-like capability at a fraction of the cost.” It could potentially serve as a force equalizer for nations that cannot currently afford to field a large number of fighter jets in their air forces.

Photo: Boeing
Photo: Boeing

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Also, Boeing emphasizes the BATS’ flexibility and its potential for customization, stressing that while it is currently intended for a “Loyal Wingman” role, the scope of its possible future uses extends far beyond this single function.

The first flight of a BATS plane is scheduled to take place in 2020, and commercial production is still an unspecified number of years away. Once Boeing does reach the commercial production phase, it is expected that they will sell the BATS plane globally.

The Honda Mean Mower 2

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The Insane 134MPH Mower

If there’s anyone who knows a thing or two about going fast, it’s the folks at Top Gear. And that doesn’t just mean in cars – as was evidenced when they set a Guinness World Record for building the world’s fastest lawnmower with Honda back in 2014. Unfortunately, they were dethroned shortly thereafter. Now, however, they’re looking to ascend again with the Honda Mean Mower Mk. 2.

To be driven in the world-record attempt by stunt driver, Jess Hawkins, this second iteration grass-cutter features some major improvements over the original. For instance, the output has been nearly doubled – that means 190+ bhp from the new 999cc SP1 Fireblade engine onboard. The team building it is also shooting toward a dry weight of only about 440 lbs, which means – when paired with the engine output – this lawnmower may be able to do 0-60 in under 3 seconds. Whether or not they shatter the record remains to be seen, but by all accounts this is promising to be an impressive machine.