Olympic Athlete Uses Pedal Power to Toast Bread and Make a Point

World-class cyclist Robert Förstemann demonstrates the human cost of the electrical energy we consume on a daily basis.

image via youtube screen capture

When was the last time you stopped and really thought about how much energy you’re using right now? How much wattage do you suppose your computer is sucking up? Your cell phone? The AC that’s (hopefully) keeping you cool as the temperature rises? For as ensconced as we are in our modern conveniences, surrounded by electronics that augment and regulate our daily lives, we spend shockingly little time thinking about actual electricity: Where it comes from, how we use it, and whether we are using it responsibly.

These are the questions at the heart of Nathan Grossman’s “Toaster Challenge,” which pits world-class cyclist Robert Förstemann against one of his most implacable opponents to date: A standard, 700 watt toaster.

Grossman explained to Fast Company that the idea for the Toaster Challenge originally came to him while he was working out on a stationary bike at the gym. Having long toyed with the idea of exploring the issue of energy consumption, Grossman approached Robert Förstemann, a world-champion track cyclist who, it turns out, had also been thinking along the same lines. Says Grossman to FastCo:

“With an Olympic athlete, they train for so many hours a day, and they get a lot of time to think about what they're doing. He said he's been sitting on his exercise bike viewing these watts for several years, and he always thinks about what could he do with this energy.”

Förstemann, whose thighs measured a whopping 29 inches around when the video was filmed, is shown clearly struggling to maintain the wattage necessary to toast a single piece of white bread. And while he does ultimately give the slice in question a nice golden-brown crisp, it’s pretty striking to see someone as monumentally in shape as the Olympic athlete exhausted by the sheer effort necessary to get the bread just a little bit toasted. Based on his Toaster Challenge, Grossman estimates it would take nearly 200 Förstemanns pedaling at full speed to power a car, and tens of thousands to successfully get a plane off the ground. Who needs horsepower when we could calculate Förstemann-power, instead?

Novelty aside, what Grossman and Förstemann have done is offer us a unique way of looking at just what it means to live in a world powered by electricity. While we may tend to forget, misunderstand, or simply ignore the processes necessary to energize our devices and appliances, the truth is that even something seemingly simple, like toasting a slice of bread, requires a breathtaking (in this case – literally) amount of power. And while relying on Förstemann-power isn’t exactly a feasible, scale-able energy solution, his efforts can hopefully make us all a little more conscientious about the electricity we use everyday.

[via fast company]


The healthcare systems in the United States and the United Kingdom couldn't be more different.

The UK's National Health Service is the largest government-run healthcare system in the world and the US's is largest private sector system.

Almost all essential health services in the UK are free, whereas in America cost can vary wildly based on insurance, co pays and what the hospitals and physicians choose to charge.

A medical bill in the US

One of the largest differences is cost. The average person in the UK spends £2,989 ($3915) per year on healthcare (most of which is collected through taxes), whereas the average American spends around $10,739 a year.

So Americans should obviously be getting better care, right? Well, the average life expectancy in the UK is higher and infant mortality rate is lower than that in the US.

RELATED: The World Health Organization declares war on the out of control price of insulin

Plus, in the U.S., only 84% of people are covered by private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. Sixteen percent of the population are forced to pay out of pocket.

In the UK, everyone is covered unless they are visiting the country or an undocumented resident.

Prescription drugs can cost Americans an arm and a leg, but in the UK, prescriptions or either free or capped at £8.60 ($11.27).

via Wikimedia Commons

The one drawback to the NHS system is responsiveness. In the UK people tend to wait longer for inessential surgeries, doctor's appointments, and in emergency rooms. Whereas, the US is ranked as the most responsive country in the world.

RELATED: Alarmingly high insulin prices are forcing Americans to flock to Canada to buy the drug

The New York Times printed a fair evaluation of the UK's system:

The service is known for its simplicity: It is free at the point of use to anyone who needs it. Paperwork is minimal, and most patients never see a bill. … No one needs to delay medical treatment until he or she can afford it, and virtually everyone is covered. …

According to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States spent 17.2 percent of its economic output on health care in 2016, compared with 9.7 percent in Britain. Yet Britain has a higher life expectancy at birth and lower infant mortality.

Citizens in each country have an interesting perspective on each other's healthcare systems. UK citizens think it's inhumane for Americans have to pay through the nose when they're sick or injured. While Americans are skeptical of socialist medicine.

A reporter from Politics Joe hit the streets of London and asked everyday people what they think Americans pay for healthcare and they were completely shocked.


Bans on plastic bags and straws can only go so far. Using disposable products, like grabbing a plastic fork when you're on the go, can be incredibly convenient. But these items also contribute to our growing plastic problem.

Fortunately, you can cut down on the amount of waste you produce by cutting down on disposable products. And even more fortunately, there are sustainable (and cute) replacements that won't damage the environment.

Coconut bowls


Who says sustainable can't also be stylish? These cute coconut bowls were handmade using reclaimed coconuts, making each piece one of a kind. Not only are they organic and biodegradable, but they're also durable, in case your dinner parties tend to get out of hand. The matching ebony wood spoons were polished with the same coconut oil as the bowls.

Cocostation Set of 2 Vietnamese Coconut Bowls and Spoons, $14.99; at Amazon

Solar powered phone charger


Why spend time looking around for an outlet when you can just harness the power of the sun? This solar powered phone charger will make sure your phone never dies as long as you can bask in the sun's rays. As an added bonus, this charger was made using eco-friendly silicone rubber. It's win-win all around.

Dizaul Solar Charger, 5000mAh Portable Solar Power Bank, $19.95; at Amazon, $19.95; at Amazon

Herb garden kit

Planter Pro

Put some green in your life with this herb planter. The kit comes with everything you need to get a garden growing, including a moisture meter that helps you determine if your herbs are getting the right amount of food to flourish. All the seeds included are certified to be non-GMO and non-hybrids, meaning you can have fresh, organic herbs right at your fingertips.

Planter Pro's Herb Garden Cedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazonedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazon

Reusable Keurig cups

K & J

Keurig cups are convenient, but they also create a ton of plastic waste. These Keurig-compatible plastic cups are an easy way to cut down on the amount of trash you create without cutting down on your caffeine. Additionally, you won't have to keep on buying K Cups, which means you'll be saving money and the environment.

K&J Reusable Filter Cups, $8.95 for a set of 4,; at Amazon

Low-flow shower head


Low-flow water fixtures can cut down your water consumption, which saves you money while also saving one of the Earth's resources. This shower head was designed with a lighter flow in mind, which means you'll be able to cut down on water usage without feeling like you're cutting down on your shower.

Speakman Low Flow Shower Head, $14.58; at Amazon

Bamboo safety razor


Instead of throwing away a disposable razor every time you shave, invest in an eco-friendly, reusable one. This unisex shaver isn't just sustainable, it's also sharp-looking, which means it would make a great gift for the holidays.

Zomchi Safety Razor, $16.99; at Amazon

The Planet
Instagram / Leonardo DiCaprio

This August, the world watched as the Amazon burned. There were 30,901 individual fires that lapped at the largest rainforest in the world. While fires can occur in the dry season due to natural factors, like lightning strikes, it is believed that the widespread fires were started by loggers and farmers to clear land. Brazil's president, Jair Bolsonaro, cites a different cause: the actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

DiCaprio wasn't accused of hanging out in the rainforest with a box of matches, however President Bolsonaro did accuse the actor of funding nonprofit organizations that allegedly set fires to raise donations.

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