May 30, 2014

Thieves stole more than 40 of these beach cruisers Monday, putting Baltimore's entire recreational bike-share program in jeopardy.     Photo: Baltimore RecNParks/Flickr

Baltimore Bike-Share Bikes Snatched

Crime affects 3,000 cyclists

Recent developments in Baltimore's municipal bike-share community suggest that one program might be living on borrowed time.

Recreation and Parks officials reported today that more than 40 of the city's blue beach cruisers were stolen Monday. The cruisers, designated for use around Druid Hill Park as part of Baltimore's Ride Around the Reservoir program, were seized by a "large group of youths" who became violent when department staff tried to defend city property.

Officials have indefinitely suspended the Ride Around program, which has been popular in parks around the city since 2007. The program made bikes and helmets available to more than 3,000 people—for free—four days out of the week to make recreation more accessible.

To make matters worse, this grand theft bicycle comes in the wake of an announcement that contractor bankruptcy means the Department of Transportation's Charm City Bikeshare, a citywide 250-bike, 25-station program, won't launch at least until 2015—the second time the project has been stalled.

If any locals spot a purloined beach cruiser, they can report it to the Baltimore Police Department

More from Outside About Bike Shares—and Bike Thefts:

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Okay, it really is faster than Bolt.     Photo: KAIST/YouTube

Robot Runs Faster Than Usain Bolt

Okay, so, um, the machines are winning

It's true: The machines are winning.

The Raptor, a new technological creation from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), isn't as fast as another robot, Boston Dynamics' famous Cheetah bot, but its top speed of 46 kilometers per hour beats that of Usain Bolt (43.92), the fastest man alive.

Significantly (and perhaps disturbingly), the three-kilogram Raptor is bipedal; its two legs are constructed from a lightweight composite material. It also has a tail that allows it to remain stable as it runs and navigates obstacles. Each leg also has a tendon of sorts that allows the robot to reclaim some of the energy spent during its runs.

There are currently no plans for practical applications of the robot, save, perhaps, for eventually ruling the human race.

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Drink up. Note that these mushrooms are not those found in North Korea's new sports beverage—they're actually of the poisonous Amanita muscaria variety.     Photo: Avi Dolgin/Flickr

Putting the Spore in Sports Drink

Performance bev made from mushrooms

We know sugary sports drinks aren't all they're cracked up to be—some are even linked to bad behavior. But there's a new hydration option from the (completely trustworthy) North Korea, where scientists have just unveiled a sports drink made from mushrooms.

A press release from North Korean state media states that the spore-based sports beverage "is very effective in enhancing physical ability of sportspersons and recovering from their fatigues." The report cites a new way of cultivating mushrooms to turn it into a functional drink, but no details on exactly what that means, what the ingredients are, when it will be available, and, most important, how it tastes.

What is clear is that this innovation comes in the wake of a mushroom boom in North Korea. The Guardian points out that in October the country announced a new Central Mushroom Research Institute in Pyongyang, and what followed was "a brisk drive for mushroom production." It seems there are untold uses for this bounty of mushrooms just waiting to be discovered.

Mushroom drinks aren't unheard of, though their benefits (and tastiness) remain foggy. One example is tea made from reishi mushrooms, said to lower blood pressure and stimulate the immune system, among other things. Plus, vegan ultrarunners love mushrooms for a nice protein kick. So this North Korean sports innovation might be worth a try—but only if you're willing to trade lemon-lime for more earthy fungal flavors.

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SpaceShipTwo.     Photo: ozz13x/Flickr

One Step Closer to Space Tourism

Official clearance given for space flights

Ground control to SpaceShipTwo, you are cleared to launch.

Virgin Galactic signed with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Thursday for its first commercial space flight, set to take off by the end of the year from Spaceport America in the Jornada del Muerto desert basin of New Mexico.

The agreement licenses Galactic to operate like a commercial airline—hopefully with better in-flight service—but Richard Branson and Co. cannot schedule regular flights to space just yet. The FAA still needs to clears SpaceShipTwo for standard safety and environmental checks.

In related news, SpaceX unveiled the Dragon V2, a manned space capsule that will shuttle astronauts between Earth and the International Space Station. The Dragon V2 is a sweet rig, even by spacecraft standards: It features Tesla S touch screens and a SuperDraco engine—200 times more powerful than engines currently in use. In all, it's a $500 million upgrade from the first iteration of the Dragon capsule.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk says he is fairly confident Dragon V2 will launch in two years from pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center, the historic launch site of Apollo 11 in July 1969.

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Who needs water when you can surf wind from a plane 30 feet above your head?     Photo: Takashi Ota/Flickr

"Fence Surfing" in the Caribbean

Tourists ride the wire at St. Maarten beach

It's high season at Maho Beach in St. Maarten, and surf's up. Well, "fence surfing" is up.

The Caribbean island isn't exactly known for its killer break, but it is known for Princess Juliana International Airport and its runway that extends directly behind the beach. Landing planes—think 747s—come in with only 30 feet separating them from the sand, creating waves of turbulent air coming out of the engines at nearly 250 mph—and that has led to the creation of a bizarre new adventure hobby.

Tourists line the fence of the runway and hold on for dear life as the airwaves lift them up and make them fly. Fence surfing, as the locals call it, has become the defining characteristic of Maho Beach. Forget the perfect Caribbean water or the powder-soft sand. The beach bar even has a takeoff and landing schedule on its chalkboard instead of a drink menu.

Because the runway of Princess Juliana International Airport is only 7,546 feet long, pilots must rev the jet's engines before takeoff to compensate for the lack of tarmac. (In fact, after changes in international and local regulations regarding runway length, an extra 492 feet was added to this one.) The thrust created from the engines is 800 times more powerful than the average car.

But the power coming from the jets is still enough to sweep fence surfers off their feet.

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