December 5, 2020

science

Car chases have been a staple of action movies for decades. From Steve McQueen’s iconic chase in “Bullitt” to your pick of any of the “Fast & Furious” installments, there’s just something about the rev of engines and speeding vehicles that gets the blood pumping. And now, the best car scenes of all time have been determined…by science.

Money.com recently conducted a study to find the most exciting car chase of all time according to pure hard data. The team completed the study by compiling a list of audience’s favorite car scenes based open critics’ choices as well as sites such as Reddit. The company then enlisted 100 volunteers to watch each film hooked up to a heart monitor. The scenes that incited the highest average BPM were ranked as the top car chase scenes.

So which pedal-to-the-metal chase scene reigns supreme? That would be “Mad Max: Fury Road.”

Top car chase scenes

These are the top 20 car chase scenes in movie history, according to science. (Money.com)

According to the study, the average BPM caused by “Mad Max: Fury Road” was 85, a 33 percent uplift to the watcher’s resting heart rate. Not too far beyond “Mad Max” was “Fast & Furious 6” with an 84 BPM, followed by “Furious 7,” “Ronin,” and “Baby Driver.” Somehow, though, “Bullitt” didn’t make it on the list.

But the study didn’t just focus on the greatest car chase scenes in film history. It also looked at which of the “Fast & Furious” franchise was, indeed, the fastest and the most furious in ascending order. Apparently, the slowest and mellowest of the film series is “The Fast & The Furious: Tokyo Drift” with an average BPM of 66.

If you’re also wondering which film was the most destructive towards cars during its making, that honor goes to “The Matrix Reloaded” with over 300 cars destroyed. Talk about breaking the bank…

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James Bond. Dominic Toretto. Furiosa. Mad Max. “Popeye” Doyle. Batman. Jason Bourne. These characters have all been part of some amazing car chases over the years.

But…which car chase reign supreme? Which one was truly the most pulse-pounding? Which car chase was so exciting that it raised our collective heart rates more than any other scene in movie history?

Well, now science has an answer to that question.

According to a study from money.co.uk study, the most heart-racing car movie of all time is Mad Max: Fury Road. The research group determined this by hooking up 100 volunteers to heartbeat monitors and tracking their pulses while they watched several different films.

The study also found several other noteworthy results, as seen in this chart:

For each study participant, the research team compared the average BPM (beats per minute) from several different car chase scenes to the test group’s average resting heart rate (which was around 64 BPM).

“To make things fair for movies that aren’t action packed all the way through,” the study notes, “in each case we only counted the average BPM for the car pursuit scenes within a movie towards the film’s overall score, not the entire film.”

After this extensive study, the research team found that Mad Max: Fury Road caused an uplift in BPM of 33%, which represented an average increase in heart rates from 64 BPM to 85 BPM.

The list of films that rank just behind Mad Max: Fury Road should be pretty familiar: Ronin, Baby Driver and two of the Fast & Furious franchise films.

Here’s the full list of the 20 most pulse-pounding car chases of all time:

As you can see, five different Fast & Furious movies made the cut, as well as two Mad Max films and two Bourne entries.

Other notable films from this list included The Matrix Reloaded, which owns the unique (and perhaps dubious) distinction of being the most destructive car scene in movie history. The filmmakers alleged that 300 different vehicles were used to shoot the exhilarating highway scene that ranks 16th on this list.

While some action aficionados might be disappointed that classic chase scenes from films like like BullittThe Rock, The Italian Job and Smoky & The Bandit did not make the list, 1974’s Gone in 60 Seconds did break in. That movie happens to feature the longest chase scene on the list, clocking in at 40 minutes.

Other iconic chase scenes that have stood the test of time included Ronin (1997), Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) and the oldest film on the list, The French Connection (1971).

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Timeline

1817 Baron von Drais invents the Draisine (also known as a Hobby Horse
or Swift-Walker), an improved celerifere than can be steered with handlebars.



 Draisine  Draisine


1839 Kirkpatrick MacMilan of Scotland adds cranks and treadmills
to the rear axle of a two-wheeled vehicle, but gains only local notoriety.


1858 Pedals are added to the front wheel of a two-wheeled machine,
creating a bone-jarring machine challed the velocipede or “boneshaker.”

 Velocipede  Velocipede

1868 Velocipedes are manufactured in the United States and velocipede
riding becomes a popular fad.

1869 Solid rubber tires replace iron velocipede tires and the
term “bicycle” is first used.


1872 The Ariel, the first high-wheel Ordinary, is manufactured
in Britian.


 Ordinary  Ordinary

1876 The Ordinary or high-wheeler is first displayed in America.

1877 First U.S.-made Ordinary manufactured.


1880 League of American Wheelmen is founded and begins lobbying
for better roads.


 


1884 Thomas Stevens pedals across the United States –from Oakland,
California, to Boston Massachusetts. J. K. Starley invents the “safety
bicycle.”


 Saftey Bicycle  Starley Saftey bicycle

1889 Pneumatic rubber tires invented.


1894 Fashion designers re-introduce the bloomer costume, freeing
women from the restrictive corsets and dress of the time.


1895 Chicago puts its mailmen on bicycles; the price of a good-quality
horse reaches a new low; four schoolmarms stir up controversy by wearing
bloomers to work.


1896 Margaret Valentine Le Long rides from Chicago to San Francisco;
coaster brakes are invented; Henry Ford builds his first succesful automobile.


Ford’s first automobile  Ford's Automobile


1898 Bicyles’ popularity in the United States declines.


1899 “Mile-a-Minute” Murphy sets a bicycle speed record
— one mile in 57.75 seconds.


1903 Bicycle mechanics Wilbur and Orville Wright fly 120 feet
in the first succesful airplane.


1962 New bicycle boom begins.


1972 Bicycles outsell cars in the United States –13 million to
11 million; bicycle thefts account for 17% of all larcenies in the U.S.


1973 Dr. Allan Abbott sets a bicycle speed record, reaching 138.674
mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats.


1975 First Internation Human Powered Speed Championships held.


1976 2,000 cyclists celebrate the Bicentennial by riding across
America.

1981 The Specialized Stumpjumper became the first mass-produced mountain
bikes. It helps popularize the sport.


1984 The road race becomes the first women’s cycling event at
the Olympics.


1985 John Howard of the US sets a new bicycle speed record of
152.284 mph. The first person to go over 150 miles an hour on a bicycle.


1995 Fred Rompelberg of the Netherlands sets a new bicycle speed
record of 166.9 mph. At the time, he was 50 years old, and the world’s
oldest professional cyclist.


1996 Mountain biking introduced as an Olympic sport.


 

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You might think that an invention as simple as the bicycle would have an uncomplicated past. But as it turns out, this highly popular invention has a history fraught with controversy and misinformation. While stories about who invented the bicycle often contradict one another, there’s one thing that’s certain — the very first bicycles were nothing like the ones you see cruising down the street today. 

The first known iterations of a wheeled, human-powered vehicle were created long before the bicycle became a practical form of transportation. In 1418, an Italian engineer, Giovanni Fontana (or de la Fontana), constructed a human-powered device consisting of four wheels and a loop of rope connected by gears, according to the International Bicycle Fund (IBF).

In 1813, about 400 years after Fontana built his wheeled contraption, a German aristocrat and inventor named Karl von Drais began work on his own version of a Laufmaschine (running machine), a four-wheeled, human-powered vehicle. Then in 1817, Drais debuted a two-wheeled vehicle, known by many names throughout Europe, including Draisienne, dandy horse and hobby horse. 

Curious contraptions

Drais built his machine in response to a very serious problem — a dearth of real horses. In 1815, Mount Tambora, in Indonesia, erupted and the ash cloud dispersed around the world a lowered global temperatures. Crops failed and animals, including horses, died of starvation, according to Smithsonian magazine. 

Drais’ hobby horses were a far cry from the aerodynamic speed machines that are today’s bicycles. Weighing in at 50 lbs. (23 kilograms), this bicycle ancestor featured two wooden wheels attached to a wooden frame. Riders sat on an upholstered leather saddle nailed to the frame and steered the vehicle with a rudimentary set of wooden handlebars. There were no gears and no pedals, as riders simply pushed the device forward with their feet.

Drais took his invention to France and to England, where it became popular. A British coach maker named Denis Johnson marketed his own version, called “pedestrian curricles,” to London’s pleasure-seeking aristocrats. Hobby horses enjoyed several years of success before they were banned from sidewalks as a danger to pedestrians. The fad passed, and by the 1820s, the vehicles were rarely seen, according to the National Museum of American History (NMAH).

Drawing from an 1887 German encyclopedia of various velocipedes, penny-farthings and other human-powered vehicles. (Image credit: Public domain.)

Bone shakers and penny-farthings

Bicycles made a comeback in the early 1860s with the introduction of a wooden contraption with two steel wheels, pedals and a fixed gear system. Known as a velocipede (fast foot) or a “bone shaker,” the brave users of this early contraption were in for a bumpy ride.

The question of who invented the velocipede, with its revolutionary pedals and gear system, is a bit murky. A German named Karl Kech claimed that he was the first to attach pedals to a hobby horse in 1862. But the first patent for such a device was granted not to Kech but to Pierre Lallement, a French carriage

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