Deathwatch, continued: Faraday Future still stalled in the desert

Faraday Future FF 91Why do we like to watch some companies fail and not others? It usually comes down to the size of their ambitions: the bigger they are, the better the show. That’s why the implosion of brash, boastful Faraday Future has been so fascinating. New details about Faraday don’t suggest that it’s folding or filing for bankruptcy–not yet, anyway. But they…
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Navigation Systems May Dull Our Brains, Study Says

Mapping Progress: GPS Navigation is the Best In-Car Technology

We’ve all battled over driving directions. One person insists on following the prescribed GPS route while another, shouting to be heard over the voice guidance, claims there’s a better way that the dumb computer couldn’t possibly know. Either method might get you there, but one may actually improve brain function. 

A new study by University College London found that two areas of the brain—the memory- and direction-related hippocampus and the decision-making prefrontal cortex—saw “spikes of activity” when people turned down new streets or had several streets they could freely choose along their route. The researchers compared the brain scans of 24 volunteers in a driving simulation of central London, some with fixed routes to a destination and some without. Drivers following a navigation system saw no additional activity in those areas of their brains, whereas those left vulnerable to London’s tangled web of streets were essentially firing on all cylinders: plotting, deciding, and reaping the rewards (or pitfalls) of their discoveries.

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 03: Revision notes during a 'Knowledge' lesson at the West London Knowledge School on December 03, 2014 in London, England. London's Black Cab drivers are required to pass 'The Knowledge' in order to be issued with a Hackney Carriage Licence. On average, between three and four years of lessons and practice are needed to acquire this knowledge. London taxis drivers don't use GPS navigation devices, as they are meant to know the city by heart, preferring to rely on their memory rather than on modern technologies. London's licensed black taxi drivers have been campaigning recently against the introduction of the 'Uber' taxi smartphone app in the United kingdom. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

“Our results fit with models in which the hippocampus simulates journeys on future possible paths, while the prefrontal cortex helps us to plan which ones will get us to our destination,” Hugo Spiers, a UCL professor of experimental psychology, said in a press release. “When we have technology telling us which way to go, however, these parts of the brain simply don’t respond to the street network. In that sense our brain has switched off its interest in the streets around us.”

A 2011 study of London taxi drivers found that after they took the Knowledge—a driving test that basically requires cabbies to memorize the entire city—the actual size of their hippocampi was enlarged compared to drivers who hadn’t, according to the journal Nature. Even getting lost puts “high demands” on these parts of the brain, Spiers said. If nothing else, thinking about where you are in time and space is a healthy thing.

  • John Phillips: This Was the Road That Should Not Have Been Taken
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But while neuroscientists agree the best way to keep our brains active is to use them, following technology does have its advantages. Today’s best in-car navigation systems can reroute us to alternative roads to avoid traffic tie-ups altogether, while apps like Waze have an almost local expertise of a town’s back streets (to the detriment of many locals). We might have never found such roads without interactive maps, which are now so detailed that it’s easier than ever to spot side streets, trace them for miles, and find out where they’ll lead us.

(Of course, sometimes the scenic route, as we’ve found out, is really best avoided.)


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Your Car Parts That Need Replacing

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Given that you have clicked on this article, chances are you know a little something about the way a car works, you are just not 100% sure about how often certain car parts need replacing. Don’t worry. This is totally common. What’s more, it is way better that you check than run the risk of running your car into the ground.

That is why we have come up with a list of the most common car parts that will most likely need replacing. So sit back, relax, and start making some notes that you can then check against your next service.

Your Windscreen Wipers

There is no set rule to this one, but these typically need replacing every 12 to 18 months. Of course, different factors can come into play here, such as the climate you live in and whether you store your car inside or out.

Your Oil Needs

Oil has to be one of the most overlooked replacements of any car. In short, most people don’t change their oil – or the filter – enough. To clear up this little area of gray a little bit more, you should change your oil – and filter- roughly every 4,000 miles to 6,000 miles. This will ensure your engine runs smooth, clean and efficiently.

Your Battery

Another area of misinformation, but you should undergo a car battery replacement at least every 5 years. Of course, most people simply wait until their current battery has completely died on them, but this can have repercussions on the health and wellbeing of your car. It is also important to note that mileage doesn’t have any impact on your battery life. However, small journeys tend to use up the battery and long journeys help them recover.

Your Brake Pads

This is another area where variables can come into play and have a big effect, but typically brake pads will last between 30,000 and 65,000 miles. The kind of variables that we are talking about includes the make and model of your car, the age, the inner lining, the kind of driver you are and what the weather conditions tend to be like where you are.

Your Tyres

We tend to say that tyres can last up to about 5 years. However, this is massively affected by the amount of driving you actually do per year. That isn’t the only thing that can affect the lifespan of your tires, though. Once again, the style of driving you to use can have a big effect, as can the wear rating of the tyres you own. As such, always keep an eye on the thread depth, and don’t let it go below 3mm as a rule.

Your Spark Plugs

There are different types of spark plugs, but most of them are either platinum or iridium, both of which tend to get to about the 100,000-mile mark before they need replacing. However, as a little tip, a lot of short distance driving can have a big impact and reduce their lifespan quite dramatically. So make sure you speak to the mechanic every time you have a service. They’ll be able to guide you properly.