The Greatest Invention of the Twentieth Century is . . .

In my humble opinion, the greatest invention of the twentieth century was the bicycle derailleur shifting system.

This invention made the bicycle a realistic mode of transportation in a variety of terrains.

Average people with a few weeks of practice can travel on a modern multi-speed bicycle on moderately hills roads at an average speed of around 13 miles per hour.  With improved fitness a normal adult can average 15 miles per hour.  This makes daily commutes of 7-10 miles realistic.

Of course elite athletes race up steep mountains at speeds over 20 miles per hour, and they descend the other side of the mountain at 50 mph or more.

Before the derailleur was allowed in the Tour de France in 1938, racers had two gears, one on each side of the rear wheel.  Just before entering a mountain stage, for example, they could pull over, remove the rear wheel and flip it around.  In those days riders didn’t have support teams.  They had to carry tools and supplies in their pockets with spare tires slung over their shoulders.

Tullio Campagnolo invented the quick release in 1927 after frozen fingers prevented him from turning the wing nuts to release his wheel so he could flip it around.  He went on to found a bicycle parts company that eventually perfected (though they did not invent) the derailleur.  The device itself began to appear as early as 1905.  Its predecessors included complex systems of levers and pulleys.

The bicycle was invented early in the 1800s.  Hundreds of bicycle companies rose up in the United States.  By 1900 there were two large patent offices in the nation’s capital.  One was for bicycle inventions, the other was for everything else.

Susan B. Anthony once said,

The bicycle has done more to emancipate women than anything else.

The bicycle could also do a lot to emancipate us from dependence on oil.  The author’s of the book Bicycle Science estimate that a human powered by the equivalent number of calories in a gallon of gasoline could travel about 1000 miles.  Or, drinking milk instead of gasoline (remember milk is over 90% water) a rider could go about 99 miles.  If riders neglected to replenish all those calories, cycling could also help liberate us from the plague of obesity and diabetes.

Sources:

Jim Langley, Campy Only, Pedaling History.

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Peck to Sponsor Fair Trade Bill

Representative Peck has introduced a bill to ban any government agencies, including vending machines in the capital building, from purchasing Hershey’s products until the company pledges to oppose child labor and engage in fair trade practices.  Chris Kobach is cosponsor, and Governor Brownback has pledged to sign the bill as soon as it reaches his desk.

More Information here.

Cloning Scandal in Kansas

NCAA officials are

investigating reports

that the University

of Kansas used cloned athletes to win the Big-12 Championship and advance to the “elite 8.”

A reporter searching the high school records for  Marcus and Markief Morris, the famed “Morris twins,” revealed a surprising fact: There is no record of Marcus or Markief attending high school.  Instead there was only one name–Mark Morris.

Anonymous sources from the university of Kansas Medical School mention suspicious cloning activity around the years 2004-2008.

A spokesman for coach Bill Self says the Jayhawks “deny the allegation and defy the alligator.”  Further, coach Self adds, even if it were true it violates no rule.

We have the original rules, written by coach Naismith himself.  There is no prohibition of using cloned athletes.

Meanwhile, there are also reports of suspicious activity in the genetics lab at Kansas State University.

Coach Frank Martin has been quoted as saying,

KU obviously had an unfair advantage with two Morrises.  If we had two Jacob Pullens, we would have been unstoppable.