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Video of the Day: Wind Powered Vehicle

Can you go downhill faster than the wind? This wind-powered vehicle seems to violate the laws of physics, specifically the law of conservation of energy. Here are some of the facts about this vehicle explored in the video:

1. The car is powered only by the wind. There is no motor or batteries of any kind.

2. The propeller does NOT spin like a windmill. The wind does NOT push it and make it turn.

3. Instead the wheels are geared to the propeller to turn it the opposite way, like a fan, so it pushes air backwards.

4. To start the vehicle the wind simply pushes on the whole vehicle (like a block of styrofoam) and gets it moving.

5. The wheels are turning so they turn the propeller in the opposite direction to how the wind is pushing it.

6. The prop is pushing air back so air pushes the prop forwards, accelerating the car.

7. Once you get up to wind speed there is no apparent wind on the vehicle. If the prop were spun like a windmill this would mean no more thrust. But, since the prop is operating like a fan, it still accelerates air backwards, generating thrust.

8. You can go faster than wind speed continuously because even when going faster than the wind, the prop can still accelerate air backwards (in the car’s frame of reference) generating thrust. In a stationary frame of reference you would see that the wind behind the propellor is slower than the surrounding air. So it’s clear that the energy is coming from the wind.

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