In a piece for WIRED Magazine, Jordan Golson breaks down the history of the three-wheeled car.
It is taken as gospel that vehicles should have an even number of wheels. Two, four, even six. But that hasn’t kept more than a few people from thinking three was the magic number.
From the very earliest days of motoring, engineers have toyed with three-wheeled automobiles. In fact, the Benz Patent Motorwagen, generally considered the first motorcar, rolled on three wheels. Since then, the idea has come and gone, usually adopted by lovable, slightly eccentric boutique automakers like Morgan Motors or startups like the dearly departed Aptera Motors, although big players like Toyota have played the game too. (For the sake of this discussion, we’ll focus on cars, which we’ll define as having side-by-side seating and at least some semblance of an enclosed body.)
But four wheels work just fine, so why take one away?
“Car companies are always looking to sell something that’s different,” Golson says.
According to Golson, three-wheelers have plenty of setbacks too.
“People typically buy their cars so they can haul around their families and their stuff, and a three-wheeled car doesn’t really do that very well,” he says.
So why were three-wheeled cars like the Reliant Robin so popular in England 30 years ago?
“They were popular because they were taxed as motorcycles,” says Golson. “So they were cheaper to own, and you only had to have a motorcycle license to ride them.”
Three-wheeled cars of old weren’t the safest either.
“You basically have as much protection as you would on a motorcycle, which is to say, none,” Golson says. “It has all the bad parts of a motorcycle, and it has all the bad parts of a car.”
Don't expected a resurgence of the three-wheeled car any time soon. But that doesn’t mean four wheels is the pinnacle of car formats.
“If the car companies can figure out a way to solve a problem that no one else has solved you might see one that’s really popular,” says Golson. “But until they do that, the demand just isn’t there.”
Government prosecutors confirmed in a Guantanamo Bay war court today that an interpreter for one of five alleged co-conspirators in the Sept. 11 attacks had earlier worked for the CIA. But they insisted no federal agency had tried to place the interpreter on the defense team to gather intelligence. Defense lawyers cried foul and asked that all further proceedings be suspended until the issue is resolved.
When Jon Stewart announced on Tuesday that he is leaving the host chair of The Daily Show on Comedy Central later this year, he prompted great dismay among his many fans. The show has influenced a generation of young people — especially liberals and Democrats — and changed how they view both the news and politics.
Chicago's Jackie Robinson West Little League team — that was lauded for their play and sportsmanship, even honored at the White House — has been stripped of their U.S. championship title. On Wednesday, league officials said adult mangers of the team cheated by skirting fair play rules that require all players to live inside the same geographical boundaries.
New dietary advice is on its way. A panel of top experts — appointed by the federal government — is expected to update recommendations on what we should be eating. And one thing on the mind of the panel is dietary cholesterol. Americans have been told for decades to limit cholesterol-rich foods, but advice may be changing.
The leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France met in Belarus on Wednesday in an effort to stop the war in Ukraine. The negotiation comes amid the heaviest fighting yet in eastern Ukraine, where Russian-backed rebels have been gaining ground in a fierce offensive.
What exactly is happening to nurses' backs when they move and lift patients? NPR's Daniel Zwerdling teamed with scientists for a high-tech look inside his own back as he tried the same maneuvers.
The deployment of troops to build treatment centers and train health workers didn't pan out as planned. But as most of the troops are being withdrawn, it is clear the U.S. still made a difference.
Greece’s new finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, has bounded onto the political stage not like a finance minister at all. He's more like an action movie star.
With his bald head, athletic build and feisty manner, Varoufakis reminds some of the Bruce Willis of "Die Hard" fame. One German newspaper called Varoufakis “a sex icon, roaring around Athens in his motorbike leathers, radiating the sort of classical masculinity you usually find only in Greek statues.”
Varoufakis may not relish this kind of press. He is a serious academic economist who has held senior university teaching posts in Greece, the United States, the U.K. and Australia. Long before his election last month, he fought a passionate campaign against the deep cuts in public spending that Germany and other European creditor nations imposed on Greece as a condition of the country’s $280 billion bailouts.
As a left-winger, Varoufakis believes in big government. Indeed, he describes himself as a Marxist. But Professor Monojit Chatterji, his doctoral supervisor at the UK’s University of Essex, says we should take that description with a pinch of salt.
“People are scared of him because of this Marxist label that he bandies around,” says Chatterji. “It’s almost done deliberately, in order to say to people: ‘Look here, I am a Marxist but you know I’m really a cuddly toy.’”
In spite of his seriousness, Varoufakis seems not to be averse to game playing. Hardly surprising, his academic specialty is game theory, the study of strategic decision-making. Computer games giant Valve Corp. hired him for his game-theory expertise.
That could now stand him in good stead.
“It’s not a bad background to have when you’re entering a period of intense negotiation,” says James K. Galbraith, a University of Austin professor who is a friend and former colleague.
But Galbraith rejects the claim that Varoufakis is playing the so-called “madman strategy,” making crazy demands and threatening to bring down the euro to extract greater concessions from Greece’s creditors.
“That’s not true," Galbraith says. "There’s absolutely nothing mad or for that matter opaque about the position taken at this stage by the Greek government.”
Galbraith describes Varoufakis as one of the most interesting intellectuals on the planet who has energy, charm, intelligence and magnetism in abundance. Will these qualities be enough to win over Varoufakis’ key adversary in the debt negotiations, German Chancellor Angela Merkel?
Professor Chatterji recalls one of the former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s favorite phrases: “Thatcher used to say: ‘The lady is not for turning.' I think about Merkel one might say: ‘This lady is not for charming.’”
President Obama defended a limited three-year resolution saying the country is not benefited "by being on a perpetual war footing."
A new online survey shows only 27 percent of Americans can identify the NBC Nightly News anchor from his photograph.
When comedian Jon Stewart announced he was leaving The Daily Show that sound you heard was 2016 hopefuls breathing a collective sigh of relief.
George Washington drank hot chocolate for breakfast, according to historians. His version was flavored with chili powder, vanilla and allspice and contained less sugar than the cocoa of today.
Captain Francesco Schettino was sentenced to 16 years in prison for his role in the disaster in which the Italian cruise ship hit rocks in 2012 and sank, killing 32 people.
The government is set to withdraw warnings about cholesterol. According to the Washington Post, those dietary guidelines that we all know and love, the ones that provide rules for school lunches and nutrition advice and the same guidelines that tell us to limit our cholesterol intake to 300 milligrams a day are about to see a big change that could whip up business for the egg industry.
If we were writing a blockbuster movie about the egg industry – just bear with me – the villain would be cholesterol.
“It certainly has been an issue that has been on every single agenda, topic for every single meeting we’ve had in egg industry over the last 30 years,” says Kevin Burkum, a senior vice president of the American Egg Board. “Cholesterol is really the reason the American Egg Board was invented," he says.
In 1976, there was an egg crisis. American’s consumption of eggs had plunged from around 400 eggs a year in the 1940s to about half that a few decades later, and egg producers were concerned.
Phil Lempert, editor of Supermarketguru.com, says the industry still hasn't completely recovered: “Fast forward to 2012, and it’s down to 250 eggs.”
After years of mixed messages about nutrition, even if the government does publish new guidelines extolling the virtues of eggs, it could be tough to persuade consumers that the product is actually considered healthy again, Lempert says.
“Because what we’ve seen before – whether it’s about obesity, or heart disease, or cholesterol, or sodium or sugar – is lots of confusion. This message has to be really clear," he says.
And heard, says Mark Cotter, CEO of the Food Group, a food marketing firm. If the government publishes new dietary guidelines they probably won’t have much affect on their own, he says.
“To be quite frank, the understanding of the dietary guidelines, in terms of awareness, is under 10 percent – in the country,” he says.
It’s up to the egg industry, says Cotter, to sell itself. Last year, egg sales increased by half a billion dollars, according to Burkum. Consumers, he says, are already embracing the egg.
“The incredible edible egg – even more incredible,” he says.
President Obama wants Congress to authorize a U.S. military-led operation against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
The president says he's not committing the country to another drawn-out, costly war. But getting just one pair of boots on the ground costs a lot of money.
It's not just bombs and bullets: It's all the civilian support required to sustain a deployment of any size for any period of time. In this case, the main weapon used may be airpower, and the footprint may not be as large as it was in Afghanistan or Iraq at the height of the war. But there will be plenty of work for civilian contractors.
For the full story, click the audio player above.
This final note comes with this personal observation: I once had a boss in the Navy who only held meetings standing up — helped keep 'em short and on target, he said.
That wasn't a bad way to go, because a report from Atlassian had this to say about the average workplace meeting attendee:
- 39 percent slept during meetings.
- 45 percent felt overwhelmed by the number of meetings they have to go to.
- 73 percent said they did other work during those meetings.
Since World War II, inequality in the U.S. has gone through two, dramatically different phases.
This is the first time an Australian will compete in the song competition that brings in nearly 200 million viewers. The big question is: who will represent Australia at the event in May?
The European Space Agency probe has sent a new image of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko from about 77 miles away.