12 Things You Can Do On A Segway

Early on, Segways developed a reputation for being useless and nerdy, but in the last few years people have found plenty of things you can do with, or on, a segway. The personal transporters are becoming more popular as gas prices rise and more uses are found. Keep in mind, these are things you can do if you have the skill and the balance to ride a Segway as they are made to be ridden.

1. Play Polo

Segway Polo is just like regular polo, except the players ride Segways instead of horses. The first organized match was in 2004, and now the game is played worldwide, overseen by the International Segway Polo Association. The international championship tournament is called the Woz Challenge Cup (yes, named after Steve Wozniak) and has been held annually since 2006. (image credit: Luiza)

2. Off-Road Sports

Some Segway enthusiasts have used a Segway as an ATV, skateboard, bicycle, skates, or an SUV. How fun is it to go "four-wheelin'" on two wheels?

3. Play Golf

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Spice up your golf game with the Segway X2 Golf! It's a special model with tires that won't hurt the turf and attachments to hold your golf club bag and a scorecard.

4. Urban Sightseeing

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Sightseeing can be tiring and hard on the feet. That's why so many cities and historical areas offer Segway guided tours. From Anchorage to Zurich, you can find a Segway tour that allows you to see the sights close up without wearing yourself out. (image credit: iluvcocacola)

5. Build a Wheelchair

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Spanish designer Josep Mora took a Segway, added a seat, a kick stand, a folding handlebar, and ramp. The result is a motorized wheelchair (which is not endorsed by Segway). See a video of the chair in action.

6. Make an Arrest

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Long Beach, New York police officer Jose Miguez gave chase to a stolen Mercedes while on a Segway. At 12 mph, he couldn't keep up with a car, but he kept the vehicle in sight until the teenagers who stole it abandoned the car as it crashed. It was easy to catch up with the perpetrators when they were on foot. Many police forces and security departments are finding that Segways save them money in many ways. Outfit a police department with Segways and you'll find you can cover more area with fewer officers walking the beat. Replacing just a few police cars with segways saves money on gasoline, maintenance, insurance, and parking space. But most importantly, many law enforcement units purchase Segways with Homeland Security grants, so the initial outlay is practically zero.

7. Deliver Pizza

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The owner of Nonni's Italian Eatery in Concord, New Hampshire is battling the high price of gasoline by delivering pizzas via Segway. Mathew Mitnitsky modified the Segway to hold pizzas. He says it saves "a ton of money."

8. Race!

200segwayllc.jpgThe Segway Challenge is an obstacle course race for Segways. It's  part of Gen Con Indy, a gamer convention in Indianapolis. They hold open rides for those who want to try it out, and a tournament to see who is the best Segway rider of all. The next Gen Con Indy will be August 13-16, 2009.

9. Walk Your Daughter Down the Aisle

200dicksonwedding.jpgBruce Dickson has a neuromuscular disability that makes walking difficult. He traded in a wheelchair for a Segway to get him where he needs to go. His favorite Segway memory is his daughter's wedding, in which he was able to escort her to the altar on his Segway. Dickson was concerned that he would roll over her dress and tear it, or somehow draw attention away from the bride, but the outdoor wedding came off perfectly. He has also used a Segway for fishing, dancing, and at work.  Dickson is a lawyer in Washington, DC, a city where Segways are more popular than other places, possibly because of the wide sidewalks and long distances to cover.

10. Take a Road Trip

You could ride a Segway long distances, like across the continent, but at a maximum of 12 mph, it would take a long time. 100 days, to be exact, as Hunter Weeks and Josh Caldwell found out when they traveled from Seattle to Boston on Segways. They quit their jobs for the project, a luxury you probably can't afford. But you can enjoy their adventure vicariously by watching the movie 10 MPH. The film is here in its entirety, 93 minutes.

11. Dance

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I don't know the story behind this picture of a Segway ballet, but it looks like fun! (image credit: gunnyrat)

12. Make Friends

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Tens of thousands of people have purchased Segways since they went on sale in 2002. More people are turning to Segways as gas prices rise. But those people are spread far and wide. So they meet online at Segway Social, a social networking site for Segway owners. At Segway Social, you can share Segway stories and tips, find a "glide" (a Segway route) map, and meet other "gliders" in your area. (image credit: Lady Madonna)

Special thanks to Kathleen Pierce for researching this article.

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E. A. Tilly, Library of Congress // Public Domain
The 19th Century Poet Who Predicted a 1970s Utopia
An electric airship departing Paris in 1883.
An electric airship departing Paris in 1883.
E. A. Tilly, Library of Congress // Public Domain

In 1870, John Collins dreamed of a future without cigarettes, crime, or currency inflation. The Quaker poet, teacher, and lithographer authored "1970: A Vision for the Coming Age," a 28-page-long poem that imagines what the world would be like a century later—or, as Collins poetically puts it, in "nineteen hundred and threescore and ten.”

The poem, recently spotlighted by The Public Domain Review, is a fanciful epic that follows a narrator as he travels in an airship from Collins’s native New Jersey to Europe, witnessing the wonders of a futuristic society.

In Collins’s imagination, the world of the future seamlessly adheres to his own Quaker leanings. He writes: “Suffice it to say, every thing that I saw / Was strictly conformed to one excellent law / That forbade all mankind to make or to use / Any goods that a Christian would ever refuse.” For him, that means no booze or bars, no advertising, no “vile trashy novels,” not even “ribbons hung flying around.” Needless to say, he wouldn’t have been prepared for Woodstock. In his version of 1970, everyone holds themselves to a high moral standard, no rules required. Children happily greet strangers on their way to school (“twas the custom of all, not enforced by a rule”) before hurrying on to ensure that they don’t waste any of their “precious, short study hours.”

It’s a society whose members are never sick or in pain, where doors don’t need locks and prisons don’t exist, where no one feels tempted to cheat, lie, or steal, and no one goes bankrupt. There is no homelessness. The only money is in the form of gold and silver, and inflation isn't an issue. Storms, fires, and floods are no longer, and air pollution has been eradicated.

While Collins’s sunny outlook might have been a little off-base, he did hint at some innovations that we’d recognize today. He describes international shipping, and comes decently close to predicting drone delivery—in his imagination, a woman in Boston asks a Cuban friend to send her some fruit that “in half an hour came, propelled through the air.” He kind of predicts CouchSurfing (or an extremely altruistic version of Airbnb), imagining that in the future, hotels wouldn't exist and kind strangers would just put you up in their homes for free. He dreams up undersea cables that could broadcast a kind of live video feed of musicians from around the world, playing in their homes, to a New York audience—basically a YouTube concert. He describes electric submarines (“iron vessels with fins—a submarine line, / propels by galvanic action alone / and made to explore ocean’s chambers unknown") and trains that run silently. He even describes climate change, albeit a much more appealing view of it than we’re experiencing now. In his world, “one perpetual spring had encircled the earth.”

Collins might be a little disappointed if he could have actually witnessed the world of 1970, which was far from the Christian utopia he hoped for. But he would have at least, presumably, really enjoyed plane rides.

You can read the whole thing here.

[h/t The Public Domain Review]

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iStock
NASA Has a Plan to Stop the Next Asteroid That Threatens Life on Earth
iStock
iStock

An asteroid colliding catastrophically with Earth within your lifetime is unlikely, but not out of the question. According to NASA, objects large enough to threaten civilization hit the planet once every few million years or so. Fortunately, NASA has a plan for dealing with the next big one when it does arrive, Forbes reports.

According to the National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy and Action Plan [PDF] released by the White House on June 21, there are a few ways to handle an asteroid. The first is using a gravity tractor to pull it from its collision course. It may sound like something out of science fiction, but a gravity tractor would simply be a large spacecraft flying beside the asteroid and using its gravitational pull to nudge it one way or the other.

Another option would be to fly the spacecraft straight into the asteroid: The impact would hopefully be enough to alter the object's speed and trajectory. And if the asteroid is too massive to be stopped by a spacecraft, the final option is to go nuclear. A vehicle carrying a nuclear device would be launched at the space rock with the goal of either sending it in a different direction or breaking it up into smaller pieces.

Around 2021, NASA will test its plan to deflect an asteroid using a spacecraft, but even the most foolproof defense strategy will be worthless if we don’t see the asteroid coming. For that reason, the U.S. government will also be working on improving Near-Earth Object (NEO) detection, the technology NASA uses to track asteroids. About 1500 NEOs are already detected each year, and thankfully, most of them go completely unnoticed by the public.

[h/t Forbes]

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