Machine Design

Looking Back 4/08/2010

10 YEARS AGO — 2000
Piranha for the pavement: Pontiac’s latest concept car is “a small package with a big bite,” dubbed the Piranha. Designed for 18 to 26-year olds, the four-seater carries a supercharged version of General Motors’ Ecotec 2.2-liter, four-cylinder engine rated at 212 hp and 203 lb-ft of torque at 4,600 rpm. The lightweight seats can be pulled out to serve as beach chairs. A tub in the cargo area functions as a trunk, cooler, or seating when removed. Detaching the tub creates a flatbed, converting the Piranha into a mini-pickup complete with a folding tailgate.

30 YEARS AGO — 1980
Tenth-scale L-400 looks good in wind tunnel: A tenth-scaled powered model of the L-400 Twin Hercules propjet transport has now completed more than 350 hr of wind-tunnel testing. Engineers at Lockheed-Georgia Co. are calling the results successful; stability and performance characteristics have been fully validated. The company launched full-scale development of the aircraft earlier this year. The schedule calls for the first L-400 to roll off the assembly line in 1982.

50 YEARS AGO — 1960
Electronic tube brightens things up: Objects so dim they are invisible to the naked eye are being seen with a new electronic amplifier. Developer of the tube, Dr. J. W. Coltman, manager of the nuclear physics dept., Westinghouse Research Labs, says that amplification amounts to “many thousands of times.” Photons from the dim object are focused by lenses onto a light-sensitive screen. On striking it, they eject electrons, which are accelerated into another screen. Here, more electrons are ejected and, in turn, accelerated. By use of five such screens, electron flux is multiplied by 3,000, then aimed at a fluorescent screen at the output end of the tube, to release about 20,000 photons.

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