NY Metro North Derails: Is Train Travel Safe?
Officials with the National Transportation Safety Board announced that the Metro North train that crashed in the Bronx was going 82 mph as it entered a curve, where the speed limit is 30 mph.
Big, big structures rule this week's tech gallery, from the new tallest building the United States to a curvy bridge in China, to a vertical ship designed to drift on ocean currents. Feast your eyes.
Above: NEXT Architects, based in the Netherlands, won first place in a design competition for a pedestrian bridge in China. Inspired by the Mobius strip and Chinese knots, the bridge will provide several paths across the Dragon King Harbor River in Changsha's Meixi Lake District.
The decade-long dream of French architect Jacques Rougerie is now becoming a reality. Rougerie has launched a crowd-funding campaign through KissKissBankBank to help build his vertical ship called the SeaOrbiter. The 190-foot-tall ship is designed to drift with ocean currents and will house 18 marine biologists, oceanographers, climatologists and other scientists, who will live and work onboard for months or perhaps years.PHOTOS: Vertical Ship To Explore Ocean Sky to Floor
Joe Stevens/Retna Ltd./Corbis
In a publicity stunt to promote her newest album, Artpop, the Grammy Award-winning singer made a dramatic entrance by flying 70 inches above the stage at Brooklyn's Navy Yard wearing a hybrid helicopter dress she called Volantis.
This aircraft is part helicopter, part plane, part airship. It’s ESTOLAS, for Extremely Short Take Off and Landing On any Surface, and is a joint effort of researchers at Riga Technical University in Latvia and Cranfield University in the U.K. As the name says, the aircraft can take off and land in places where runways are nonexistant, making it ideal for delivering food and medicine to people affected by disasters, such as those in the Philippines.
REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/Corbis Images
This week, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat named One World Trade Center the tallest building in the United States, beating out Chicago's Willis Tower. One World Trade Center's height to its architectural top is 1,776 feet (541.3 meters), which -- in a controversial ruling -- includes the spire at the top. The Willis Tower's architectural height is 1,451 feet (442.1 meters).PHOTOS: The World's Tallest Buildings
Sandia Labs is developing an unmanned transformer drone capable of changing into a craft that can fly, swim, drive and even hop across various obstacles. A vehicle capable of moving over a range of terrain could ease the logistical nightmares that occur when trying to coordinate multiple teams of ground, aerial and underwater vehicles.PHOTOS: Top 10 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Taking Flight
ALEXANDRA DAISY GINSBERG
A new project called Designing For the Sixth Extinction, by Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg, a designer and artist, and design fellow on Synthetic Aesthetics project, questions whether synthetic animals could help perpetuate natural species as well as clean up the environment that threatens them. Her project is part of the Grow Your Own, Life After Nature, at the Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin.PHOTOS: Synthetic Creatures Could Save the Planet
Researchers in Massachusetts are working on new technology to generate electricity from under the ocean. David Olinger, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and his colleagues are working toward underwater kites that will be tethered to the ocean floor and harvest the natural motion of underwater currents. The energy potential of the Gulf Stream alone is equal to about 20 gigawatts, or about 10 nuclear power plants.PHOTOS: 10 Bizarre Sources For Alternative Energy
Panono is throwable ball camera that has 36 tiny lenses capable of capturing a 360-degree scene. Throw the ball in the air and an integrated accelerometer fires all 36 fixed focus cameras at the apex of the throw. The water-resistant, plastic shell is durable enough to withstand the ups and downs. The camera can also be used in a handheld mode; just mount it to a tripod and press the shutter.
Talk about fashion forward. This waterproof trench coat from Motiif, dubbed "M," has the future in mind. It offers a built-in 4G data connection and smartphone charger. A related app provides the wearer with weather information and advises if the M is necessary for outdoor conditions.
In the wake of a deadly New York City train accident that left four people dead and more than 60 injured, commuters may be wondering how safe it is to travel by rail.
An early morning train into New York City went off the rails Sunday (Dec. 1) while navigating a bend in the tracks. The accident is currently under investigation, but officials with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) announced today that the train was going 82 mph (132 km/h) as it entered the curve, where the speed limit is 30 mph (48 km/h), according to CNN.
Despite the dramatic nature of train accidents like Sunday's derailment, and a devastating accident in July that left more than 79 people dead in Spain, travel by rail still compares favorably to other types of travel, including airplanes and automobiles. [The 5 Real Hazards of Air Travel]
An average of about 42,000 people died in the United States from all transportation-related causes between 2000 and 2009, making transit the single largest cause of accidental deaths, according to a 2013 study published in the journal Research in Transportation Economics.
Despite that high figure, the annual rate is a big improvement over earlier years: The 2010 fatality rate, for example, is just one-third of the 1975 rate (1.11 fatalities per 100 million miles in 2010 versus 3.35 fatalities per 100 million miles in 1975). The reduced rate is believed to be due to newer safety features in passenger vehicles: air bags, anti-lock brakes and other improvements.
In 2011, 759 deaths in the United States were attributed to rail transit, according to the NTSB. Almost 500 of these deaths, however, were not passenger fatalities, but were pedestrians and people in cars stopped on rail right-of-ways. Some experts believe that as many as 20 percent of these deaths were suicides.
The NTSB data also found that 494 deaths in 2011 were attributed to aviation, including air taxis; 800 U.S. deaths were blamed on marine transportation, especially recreational boating.
Officials with the National Transportation Safety Board announced that the Metro North train that crashed in the Bronx was going 82 mph as it entered a curve, where the speed limit is 30 mph.Getty Images
Blood on the Tracks
But compared with these three modes of transportation, highway travel is a bloodbath: The NTSB reports that 32,367 deaths in the United States were blamed on roadway accidents, including more than 4,400 pedestrian deaths. More than three-quarters of these deaths (25,865) involved passenger cars, motorcycles, light trucks and vans.
It's difficult, however, to compare the safety records of different modes of transportation. While vehicle and train accident rates are usually cited on a per-mile basis, that analysis doesn't work as well for airplanes, since the vast majority of air accidents occur during takeoff and landing, not in midflight.
There are railway safety innovations that might have helped prevent the New York City train accident. Positive train control, or PTC, is a technology that can automatically stop or slow a train before train-to-train collisions, high-speed derailments or train travel on tracks that are off-limits due to repairs or maintenance, according to the Association of American Railroads.
By 2015, PTC must be installed on all rail lines that carry passengers or certain hazardous materials, per the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008. While it's not certain that PTC would have prevented the New York City train accident, it is designed to automatically slow trains as they approach bends in the track such as the one where the high-speed derailment occurred.
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