Engineers set sights on steam car speed mark


The land-speed record for steam cars has stood for more than a century, but it may be challenged shortly.

Last month, a group of engineers known as the British Steam Car Challenge set about completing the initial test runs of a steam car which they hope will travel at more than 170 miles per hour, according to the Economist.

The group expects to ship the car to the US for high-speed testing and eventually to take on Fred Marriott’s 1906 record of 127 miles per hour, set in a Stanley Steamer.

Steam-powered cars are today regarded as little more than a footnote in automotive lore, but were popular in the auto industry’s embryonic days.

In fact, steam-powered and electric cars outsold gasoline-powered ones in many US states prior to the invention of the electric starter. However, gas-powered cars dominated after the introduction of the starter, which eliminated the need for risky hand cranking.


Beauty of Russian icons evident in US exhibit


The Museum of Russian Icons (located rather surprisingly in Clinton, Mass.) has seen attendance double since mid-October, when 16 of Russia’s most precious icons arrived on loan from the state-run Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow.

The “Two Museums, One Culture” exhibit highlights ascetic lives of saints depicted in centuries-old, tempura-on-wood creations that survived a ban by atheist Soviet officials who burned millions of the holy objects, according to a Religion News Service report.

The museum, which opened in 2006, was created by American business tycoon Gordon Lankton to house his extensive collection of Russian icons. His collection includes more than 340 icons from the 13th century to the present and is the largest private collections in North America.

Icons are painted in earth pigments mixed into egg tempera paint applied to pine or linden wood, often bordered with gold leaf, symmetrical in composition and static (there is no action or sense of time passing), according to an article about the exhibit in the Wall Street Journal.

Icons are not prized for their originality but for how closely they resemble earlier works, and it is the rare icon that bears its creator’s name or a signature style.