Monday, August 25, 2008


Champions Argentina face Nigeria for the Olympic gold medal on Saturday in a match which promises to be every bit as exciting as their previous meeting in the final 12 years ago. On that occasion, Nigeria became the first African team to win the tournament when they won 3-2 with a last-gasp Emmanuel Amunike goal the South Americans claimed was offside. Both teams included players who went on to enjoy successful careers at senior international level. Diego Simeone, Javier Zanetti and Roberto Ayala each made over 100 appearances for Argentina while Jay Jay Okocha, Sunday Oliseh and Nwankwo Kano were in the Nigeria side.

Both teams reached their final with their own brands of attacking football. Nigeria have been exuberant but exasperatingly erratic and their players have been criticised by coach Samson Siasia for individualism. Argentina, led by the dynamic Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero and orchestrated by Juan Roman Riquelme in midfield, have been stylish and are buoyed by their 3-0 thrashing of arch-rivals Brazil in the semifinal. One possible dampener could be the heat as the match will kick off at midday — a hefty price to pay for staging the event at the Bird’s Nest, where athletics take priority. It is another reminder of soccer’s somewhat uncomfortable place at the Games.

Brazil overcame their deep frustration at not making the men’s Olympic football final by putting away Belgium 3-0 to take the bronze medal consolation prize at Shanghai Stadium here on Friday. Goals to Diego and Jo in the first half and a second to Jo on full-time settled the outcome. It was the second time they met in these Olympics, after Brazil narrowly won their opening pool match 1-0, but this time the samba boys were not as laid back. Although clearly demoralised by their 0-3 semifinal loss to Argentina, they had inspirational captain Ronaldinho to re-ignite their motivation with a masterful display in the midfield. The AC Milan star created numerous opportunities through the first half starting with a header that just sailed over the bar in the opening minutes.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


The GF-5R clutchless transmission utilizes split, spring-loaded sliders. The engagement lugs on each half are ramped on the deceleration side. When the shift lever is pulled into first gear, both slider halves move to engage the first gear faceplate. When the shift lever is moved to the second gear position, only the slider half-facing second gear moves to engage that gear. At this time, both gears are engaged momentarily, but second gear causes the main shaft to increase its rotational speed. This speed difference kicks the first gear side of the slider out of engagement, (hence the need for the ramped engagement lugs). Subsequent gear changes operate the same way. All shifts are made at full throttlee, without the use of the clutch, just as they are with a planetary transmission.

The GF-2000 clutchless transmission operates with a slightly different design than that of the GF-5R. The GF-2000 utilizes a different shift fork for every gear, unlike the GF-5R, which uses only 3 shift forks. Because of this, the GF-2000's return springs can be located directly on the shift rails, whereas the GF-5R has split, spring loaded sliders. Again, all shifts can be made at full throttle without using the clutch. Both methods work fine, but the GF-2000's design of having bigger coil springs directly on the shift rails tends to be better for a first-time clutchless driver. For more experience drivers, it doesn't really matter.

Because of the unique engagement system of a clutchless G-Force, the transmission is not suitable for the street and will pop out of gear under deceleration. Since the clutchless G-Force is not a planetary transmission, it doesn't impose the same type of power losses.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


Friedrichshafen (Germany)-Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin launched his first flying machine from Lake Constance here in 1900. Thus began a chapter of aviation history that would propel Friedrichshafen onto the world stage, make it a prominent target for Allied bombs during World War II and ultimately bequeath to the city a sizable foundation financed by the successor companies to von Zeppelin’s original enterprise. The foundation generates between $60 million and $80 million a year for a population of just 57,000. That largess supports projects as varied as school lunches for underprivileged children, sports teams and a new library. It was the threat of losing the foundation that nudged the town fathers to get back into the zeppelin business two decades ago.

That prudent choice kept the foundation in the city’s hands. It may yet prove a good business decision in its own right. Since the new line of zeppelins first took flight here 11 years ago, the company, ZLT Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik , has built only four, including the prototypeand sold only two. With that money, von Zeppelin started a foundation dedicated to developing airships. As zeppelins enjoyed their heyday passenger service from Germany reached as far as Brazil the count’s successors built a variety of businesses to provide technology for ever more advanced zeppelins.

Zeppelins are used for a variety of purposes, including air-quality testing and crowd surveillance at public events. And Friedrichshafen remains an economic success, thanks to the many zeppelin businesses. Its region enjoys a remarkably low unemployment of just 2.5%. But for the people here it is also important that the zeppelins not remain the brontosaurus of the skies but return to their rightful place over Lake Constance.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


The main prerequisite for BMW's comeback to Formula One in 2000 was to generate synergies between F1 and series development. It was for this reason that development of the Formula One powertrain and electronics was integrated at the Munich plant, with the BMW Research and Innovation Centre (FIZ) playing a pivotal role. The F1 factory was set up less than a kilometre away from the think tank and the two formed a close network. "The FIZ represents the future of BMW," states Mario Theissen. "Here you have the most capable engineers working in state-of-the-art research and development facilities. The FIZ has vast resources at its disposal, from which we benefit directly. Conversely, with its extreme technical challenges and the requisite pace of development, the company's F1 involvement represents a unique testing ground for our technicians."The acquired know-how remains within the company, where it benefits the development of production cars. The expertise developed for the machining of various materials and components in Formula One, such as cylinder heads or crankcases, finds its way into production cars as well the development of motorcycles at BMW Motorrad.

Further focuses are the advancement of expertise in CFRP materials and their use in body construction, the development of hybrid components for Formula One and derivatives for series models. But production vehicles also enjoy the fruits of development and logistics processes honed in the sphere of Formula One. Examples include further advances in aerodynamics and the systems control unit.
Starting in season 2009, hybrid technology can be deployed for the first time in Formula One to enhance performance and efficiency. The BMW Sauber F1 Team is working flat out on the development of the KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System), for example, which serves to regenerate brake energy. In doing so the BMW Sauber F1 Team is also promoting the hybrid competence of the BMW Group. Further innovations are being developed in the areas of casting technologies, powertrain and intelligent energy management.

Dr Klaus Draeger, Director of Development for BMW AG, summarises: "The BMW Group can transfer the knowledge gained within the BMW Sauber F1 Team directly into the development of standard production vehicles. This makes Formula One the ideal predevelopment platform for innovative drive technologies. The new Formula One regulations give us the opportunity to deploy innovative hybrid technology under extreme conditions and at the same time glean important insights for production development. BMW customers stand to gain from this."