Solar cars begin 3,000-kilometer race across Australian desert

Tokai University’s vehicle “Tokai” from Japan leaves the start line in Darwin for the World Solar Challenge. The university recorded the fastest time in the grueling 3,000km race in 2009, completing the transcontinental race in only 29 hours and 49 minutes. (AFP)
Updated 08 October 2017
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Solar cars begin 3,000-kilometer race across Australian desert

SYDNEY: The World Solar Challenge began on Sunday with 42 solar cars crossing Australia’s tropical north to its southern shores, a grueling 3,000 km (1,864 mile) race through the outback.
The race from the northern city of Darwin to the southern city of Adelaide is expected to take a week for most cars, with speeds of 90-100 powered only by the sun.
The fastest time was achieved by Japan’s Tokai University in 2009, completing the transcontinental race in only 29 hours and 49 minutes.
Belgian team Punch Powertrain started first on Sunday after recording a trial time of 2:03.8 for 2.97 km (1.78 miles), hitting an average speed of 83.4 kmh (51.5mph).
But reigning 2015 champions Nuon from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands believes it has a good chance of retaining the prize.
“All the cars look completely different (this year), and all we know is we’ve got a good car, we’ve got it running perfectly the last couple of days and we’re confident we’re going to do everything to win,” tour manager Sarah Benninkbolt said Sunday.
Race director Chris Selwood said the biennial event has attracted one of the best fields ever, with teams from more than 40 countries.
“This is the 30th anniversary of the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge and competitors want to be part of that. They have been drawn to the challenge of new regulations which reduced the solar array size without limiting the size of the solar car,” Selwood said.
Teams come from countries including the United States, Japan, Germany, Chile, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Malaysia, Belgium, Sweden, Iran, South Korea, India, Hong Kong, South Africa, Poland, Thailand, Turkey, Canada, Taiwan and Australia.
The Northern Territory Minister for Tourism and Culture, Lauren Moss said her government’s A$250,000 ($194,150) sponsorship of the race showed it was committed to achieving 50 percent renewable energy for the territory by 2030.
“Innovation is at the heart of the event and the technology showcased this year will influence continuing solar innovation for vehicles and householders in the future,” she said.
“This event is a great promotion for the NT – it shows our ability to innovate to the world.”


Study: Smokers better off quitting, even with weight gain

In this June 22, 2012 file photo, a smoker extinguishes a cigarette in an ash tray in Sacramento, Calif. (AP)
Updated 18 August 2018
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Study: Smokers better off quitting, even with weight gain

  • Quitters saw their risk of diabetes increase by 22 percent in the six years after they kicked the habit
  • The people enrolled in the studies were all health professionals, and did not mirror current smokers in the general population, who are disproportionately low-income, less-educated and more likely to smoke heavily

NEW YORK: If you quit smoking and gain weight, it may seem like you’re trading one set of health problems for another. But a new US study finds you’re still better off in the long run.
Compared with smokers, even the quitters who gained the most weight had at least a 50 percent lower risk of dying prematurely from heart disease and other causes, the Harvard-led study found.
The study is impressive in its size and scope and should put to rest any myth that there are prohibitive weight-related health consequences to quitting cigarettes, said Dr. William Dietz, a public health expert at George Washington University.
“The paper makes pretty clear that your health improves, even if you gain weight,” said Dietz, who was not involved in the research. “I don’t think we knew that with the assurance that this paper provides.”
The New England Journal of Medicine published the study Wednesday. The journal also published a Swedish study that found quitting smoking seems to be the best thing diabetics can do to cut their risk of dying prematurely.
The nicotine in cigarettes can suppress appetite and boost metabolism. Many smokers who quit and don’t step up their exercise find they eat more and gain weight — typically less than 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms), but in some cases three times that much.
A lot of weight gain is a cause of the most common form of diabetes, a disease in which blood sugar levels are higher than normal. Diabetes can lead to problems including blindness, nerve damage, heart and kidney disease and poor blood flow to the legs and feet.
In the US study, researchers tracked more than 170,000 men and women over roughly 20 years, looking at what they said in health questionnaires given every two years.
The people enrolled in the studies were all health professionals, and did not mirror current smokers in the general population, who are disproportionately low-income, less-educated and more likely to smoke heavily.
The researchers checked which study participants quit smoking and followed whether they gained weight and developed diabetes, heart disease or other conditions.
Quitters saw their risk of diabetes increase by 22 percent in the six years after they kicked the habit. An editorial in the journal characterized it as “a mild elevation” in the diabetes risk.
Studies previously showed that people who quit have an elevated risk of developing diabetes, said Dr. Qi Sun, one the study’s authors. He is a researcher at the Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
But that risk doesn’t endure, and it never leads to a higher premature death rate than what smokers face, he said.
“Regardless of the amount of weight gain, quitters always have a lower risk of dying” prematurely, Sun said.