Transportation

Many of us take public transportation or fly in airplanes on a regular basis, but have you ever wondered how all of these things work? This collection of transportation articles help explain how people get from place to place.

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With 36,000 workers, it has its own fire department, banks, day care facilities, medical clinic and water treatment plant.

By Patrick J. Kiger

Ever sat on an airplane and wondered how your laptop works at 30,000 feet?

By Patrick J. Kiger

Afterburners allow a jet plane to take off from a short runway, such as the deck of an aircraft carrier. What, exactly, is an afterburner and how do they work? Learn the answer to this question in this article from HowStuffWorks.

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How do you start a gas turbine engine? What is the mechanism to begin the rotation of the large fan blades?

Since a torpedo cannot have an air-breathing engine like a boat, how is it propelled through the water?

Airline pilots have an amazing job with huge responsibilities. Learn what it's like to be a pilot and what it takes to make it in this highly competitive profession.

By Joel Freeman

When a military aircraft is in trouble, the pilot may have to eject to save his life. Find out how this crucial escape system separates pilot from plane.

By Kevin Bonsor

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Hydraulic cranes perform seemingly impossible tasks, lifting 70-ton objects with absolute ease. See the simple design behind the Herculean results.

By Kevin Bonsor

We see them all the time, but do you ever think about everything these machines do? A fire engine is a combination personnel carrier, tool box and water tanker. Learn all about this amazing 3-in-1 machine.

By Kevin Bonsor

You probably ride escalators all the time, but do you know how they move, and flatten, and keep the handrail in synch with the steps? Find out exactly what is going on inside an escalator.

By Tom Harris

In action movies, elevators regularly plummet to the basement, landing in a spectacular ball of fire. Is this possible? There are some sophisticated engineering techniques at work behind every elevator ride you take.

By Tom Harris

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A radial engine has a unique setup that makes it ideal for certain applications. Find out what makes radial engines different, how they operate and where they're used.

By Marshall Brain

Ball bearings can be found in a wide variety of machines and gadgets. If you take a look at one of them you may notice how perfectly smooth they feel and appear. How do they get like that? Find out how ball bearings are created in this article.

You see gears in just about anything that has spinning parts — car engines, transmissions, electric toothbrushes... Learn what these gears are doing and get to the bottom of the "gear ratio" concept!

By Marshall Brain

You see backhoe-loaders on nearly every construction site around town. Learn how these amazing machines work and what they are able to do.

By Marshall Brain & Tom Harris

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You've waited in line, and now it's time to board the roller coaster for the thrill ride of your life. If you're lucky enough to get to pick your seat, which car should you choose for the best ride experience?

Higher, farther, faster: NASA's X-43A plane is destined to set new speed records. What sets the X-43A apart from other rocket-powered aircraft is that it is powered by a scramjet engine. Learn all about it.

By Kevin Bonsor & Sascha Bos

Diesel locomotives are some of the coolest modes of transport out there. Giant machines like these are just full of technological treats. Explore a hybrid-diesel locomotive — from engine to engineer controls.

By Karim Nice & Talon Homer

Inside an airport, luggage moves through an amazing and intricate system. The baggage handling system plays a crucial role in keeping travelers happy. Learn about these high-speed carts and conveyers.

By Karim Nice

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Did you know that airports were once known as "flying fields" because planes took off and landed in large fields? Journey through the hidden world of airports in this article, but without the stress, nail-biting and packages of peanuts.

By William Harris & Craig Freudenrich, Ph.D.

According to the Department of Homeland Security 730 million people travel on passenger jets every year. Are these folks safe? Find out how high-tech solutions are being used to make flying as safe as possible.

By Jeff Tyson & Ed Grabianowski

There are about 5,000 planes in U.S. airspace every hour. How do these aircraft keep from colliding with each other? Learn about the intricate system that guides a plane from takeoff to landing.

By Craig Freudenrich, Ph.D.

How did the guy in the next seat pay less for a ticket than you did? Explore how airlines work, how ticket prices are set and more.

By Kevin Bonsor

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In an office that cruises a mile or more above the ground, being an airline crew member can be tiring, but rarely boring. Find out how pilots and flight attendants get you from gate to gate.

By Tom Harris

Like trade ships of old, air-freight planes move anything that can be bought or sold. See how goods are shipped worldwide.

By Karim Nice