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It's a car, it's a boat.

Look out James Bond! British engineers recently unveiled the Aquada, a sports car that hugs the road at up to 100 miles per hour, then retracts (pulls in) its wheels in seconds to skim across water at 30 mph. That makes the Aquada the fastest amphibious (operates on water and land) car ever built.

That may not seem so fast considering that top racing boats can reach speeds of up to 200 mph. But it's hard to make a car float, let alone speed across the water. "The average car will sink in one or two minutes," says marine engineer Robert Beck of the University of Michigan. Objects float due to buoyancy: Water pushes against the weight of the object with an upward force. Normal cars sink when water leaks in and increases the weight of the car. So, like all amphibious cars, the Aquada is watertight.

So what makes the Aquada special? Other amphibious cars average a top speed of 6 mph. But the Aquada features a smooth bottom surface that helps the carboat plane, or jet on top of the water instead of through it, leaving the competition in its wake. Water has a lot more resistance, or drag, than air. Example: Walk through water and it slows you down. But the Aquada's powerful 175 horsepower jet engine gives it enough thrust (forward force) to pop out on top of the water. "I can make a brick plane if I put an engine in it," says Beck. "It's all a matter of how much power you're willing to expend."
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Title Annotation:Physics/Technology
Author:Tucker, Libby
Publication:Science World
Date:Nov 3, 2003
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