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Facts, figures, oddities – a panoramic view of the focus topic of this issue of “tomorrow.”




by Björn Carstens, Volker Paulun, Alexander von Wegner December 2018

Photo Credits Getty(6), Daniel Ahmad/Wikipedia, Hersteller, Schaeffler Paravan GmbH

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Accelerated Ascent


    The time it takes to climb the notorious, 1,800 meter (5,900 feet) tall Eiger north face in the Swiss Alps has been reduced in the past 80 years from 3 days to a little more than 2 hours. Even though not all climbers took the same route, it’s an impressive comparison.

    The infographic as a PDF

Supertall at the time


    The Empire State Building was not only the first building with more than one hundred floors (102) but with a roof height of 381 meters (1,250 feet) was also the tallest building in the world from 1931 to 1972. The construction time of just one year and 45 days – accelerated by remarkable logistics and construction planning – set a record as well. Here are some facts about the construction project:


    Work on the foundation of the building began in January 1930 and was completed by March. Erection of the building began on March 17, 1930.

    Some 3,400 construction workers were employed.

    Their workday began at 3.30 a.m. and ended at 4.30 p.m.

    Every morning, detailed plans were posted at the site that precisely coordinated the workflow of that day.

    Between March and September 1930, 60 stories were erected in the shell work (overall average: 4.5 floors/week; record: 14 floors in ten days).

    The construction steel for the project came from Pennsylvania and was delivered to the site within eight hours.

    Eight cranes would lift the steel upward. Once the respective floors were finished, the cranes were dismantled and reassembled at the next higher levels.

    On some of the floors, mobile canteens were established for the workers and moved upward as the building kept getting taller. The price for a meal was 50 cents (hourly wage: 1,92 dollars).

    For ironwork at great heights, native Americans of the Mohawk tribe were preferably employed – they’re regarded as being particularly fearless of heights.

    The construction costs including the site amounted to 41 million dollars – half as much as budgeted. However, that was primarily due to the economic crisis that broke out during the construction phase.

2–3 beats/min.


    Crocodiles are masters of deceleration and able to reduce their heart rate so drastically that they can stay under water up to one hour without breathing. When it comes to eating, a crocodile is not necessarily in a hurry either. 50 full meals per year are perfectly sufficient because cold-blooded animals only convert ten percent of the food they eat into energy (mammals 80 %). The rest is deposited in the body as fat.

68 seconds


    is all it takes 2,000 robots and 1,700 employees at the Seat plant in Martorell, Spain, to assemble a body in white. In doing so, they move according to a perfectly coordinated “Industry 4.0 choreography.” In total, the accelerated production of a compact car like the Seat Ibiza in Martorell takes only 16 hours. Three decades ago, it was still 60 hours, in other words four times as much.

High pressure,

short cooking time


    This is the underlying principle of an acceleration classic: the pressure cooker. At 180 kPa, i.e. 1.8-fold air pressure, the boiling temperature of water is 117 °C (243 °F). According to the Le Bel-Van’t Hoff rule – i.e. a temperature increase by 10 °C (50 °F) doubles the reaction time – the cooking time would be reduced by more than half. This is theoretical, though, and may differ depending on the type of food: Brussels sprouts cooked like this would be mushy on the outside and hard on the inside.


    From zero to 400 km/h (249 mph) to zero in just 33.29 Seconds!

    The Swedish sports car factory Koenigsegg set this acceleration and deceleration record for production vehicles with the Agera RS in the middle of a desert in the U.S. state of Nevada at the end of 2017.

    The infographic as a PDF

Continuing advancement

of e-mobility


    The further development of activities in the field of electric mobility is an important pillar in Schaeffler’s forward-thinking program ­“Agenda 4 plus One.” With the acquisition of Elmotec Statomat GmbH Schaeffler extends its expertise in electric motor engineering and so consistently accelerates the implementation of its electric mobility strategy. Elmotec Statomat is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of machines for high-volume production of electric motors and has unique expertise in the field of winding technology. Wave winding in particular is regarded as a leading technology in terms of power density, efficiency and efficient high-volume production going forward. Schaeffler’s CEO Klaus Rosenfeld said: “This acquisition puts us in a position to seamlessly cover the entire industrialization of electric motor engineering in-house and to close the last existing technology gap in the production of rotors and stators.”

Acceleration comparisons


    The kings of acceleration among mammals: cheetahs sprint at 9.26 m/s². After just 41 meters (135 feet) they are 100 km/h (62 mph) fast

    The infographic as a PDF

Why do whips produce
a cracking sound? …


    … When swinging a whip a wave forms at the beginning of the tapered leather strip that moves toward the thin end. The closer the loop approaches the end the less mass is moved. Due to the fact that the same amount of energy is moving less and less mass, the speed of the loop keeps increasing until ultimately the entire energy of the swung whip concentrates in the small thin end. The tip of the whip races through the air at twice the speed of sound in the process. The typical cracking sound is produced when the sound barrier is broken.

Digital acceleration


Safe Emergency landing


    A revolutionary idea that will save lives: Junkers Profly from Germany together with Curti Aerospace from Italy has developed a rescue system that uses a parachute to catch a crashing helicopter. The result of a test: The helicopter was retained in the right position by the parachute and hit the ground at a decelerated speed of 27 km/h (17 mph). How the system works? The rescue mechanism is activated by a small lever in the cockpit. The system sits above the rotor blades. A rocket ensures that the life-saving parachute rises fast enough to an altitude where it will unfold: an exciting innovation for drones as well.

Words to Remember


    » In physics, force equals inertial mass times acceleration; in life, inertial mass without acceleration

    André Brie, German political scientist

    » What I’ve learned from running is that the time to push hard is when you’re hurting like crazy and you want to give up. Success is often just around the corner

    James Dyson, founder of the Dyson Company

    » When accelerating, the tears of joy have to flow horizontally to your ear

    Racing legend Walter Röhrl

    » One year of market advantage may yield a 20-percent cost advantage

    Karl-Heinz Beckurts (1930–86), German executive

    » There’s nothing you get used to as quickly as to working slowly

    Christian Morgenstern (1871–1914),  German poet

9.81 m/s2


    the mother of all accelerations ...


    … in common parlance is gravity. It’s based on one of the key physical correlations that determine our life and the fate of many porcelain cups on this planet. The weight of the rotating Earth results in a force (with a large gravitational and a small centrifugal portion) that keeps all of us on the ground. It’s measured in g and converted into newtons (force) per kilogram (weight). What this has to do with acceleration? That’s very simple: Push a porcelain cup off a tabletop – and the precious item will be “pulled” toward the center of the Earth in free fall at 1 g. The acceleration during this process is exactly 9.81 m/s² and near-identical anywhere on the planet’s surface. A short excursion into outer space: as the Moon is a lot lighter than the Earth, its gravity is six times lower – a human investing the same amount of energy could jump about eleven times higher.