from GERMANY


Speed Washing

Household appliances make life easier. But not easy enough, believes James
Dyson, which is why he is fiddling away trying to develop even better
technical helpers. After the creative entrepreneur created a stir with his
bagless vacuum cleaner (DR 4/99, p.46 and DR 4/00, p.10), the Englishman
has now turned his attention to washing with the "Contrarotator". Four
years of development work went into the turbo appliance. Dyson's engineers
established that laundry washed by hand for 15 minutes is cleaner than what
comes out of the machine after an hour. So why not simulate hand washing
with the machine. In contrast to conventional appliances, "Contrarotator"
has two contrarotating drums instead of just one - the fabric is subjected
to a more intense pattern of movement, the dirt is released more quickly
and the laundry is clean in half the time. The only question is whether the
trendily translucent plastic parts really benefit the appearance of the
front loader. The appliance is due to be launched on the German market this
year at the self-confident price of 3,300 to 4,000 marks.



A Winking Bridge

Pedestrians and cyclists in Newcastle will in future be crossing the Tyne
on the world's first rotating bridge: the Gateshead Millennium Bridge opens
and closes like an eyelid. Its architects (Wilkinson Eyre) and engineers
(Gifford and Partners) have developed a tilting mechanism that rotates on
two axes, one on each bank of the river. Every rotation, powered by
electric motors, takes four minutes. If the bridge has to open to allow
shipping to pass, its 50-metre-high arch will tilt 45 degrees to the side.
At the same time the pedestrian and cycle lanes, connected by steel cables,
also rise into the air. The 126-metre-long construction is intended to
support the cultural boom currently taking place in Newcastle and
Gateshead; the two cities are making a joint bid to become the European
Capital of Culture in 2008. In order to make a suitable impression, the
bridge is illuminated at night. The official opening is scheduled for this
summer.



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