Sam Mason is in charge of science and technology records here at GWR. In a new monthly feature on, he’ll be taking a look at some of the fascinating developments and achievements within the category. Here he takes a look back over February’s highlights.

It may be the shortest of the year, but February proved to be something of a bumper month for new records within the categories of technology and science.

Before we take a look at my pick of recent happenings, we need to wrap up the cliffhanger from last month’s blog. I know that you’ve all been on the edge of your seats wondering what this contraption is:


This experimental design holds the record for the Most precise strontium atomic clock.

This clock will neither gain nor lose a second in around 4.5 billion years – extremely close to the widely accepted figure for the age of the earth.

Earlier this month, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory received funding to build what will be the world’s Most powerful laser. Once completed in 2016, the laser will then be shipped from California to the outskirts of Prague, where the ELI (Extreme Light Infrastructure)-Beamlines research facility is under construction.

The “High repetition-rate Advanced Petawatt Laser System” (HAPLS) will produce peak powers of greater than one petawatt (1,000,000,000,000,000 watts), in pulses of less than 30 femtoseconds (0.00000000000003 seconds). To put this in more digestible terms, during those 30 femtoseconds, the laser is outputting more power than all of the world’s power stations combined, 100,000 times over.

The 7-minute video below from ELI-Beamlines goes into great detail about the background and intention of the project.

We love DIY machines here at Guinness World Records - Niels Herbrich of Germany has built a phenomenal example with his Fastest remote-controlled jet-powered model aircraft, clocking in at a staggering speed of 706.97 km/h (439.29 mph).


Niels was able to manoeuvre his aircraft through the 200m long and 20m wide “measurement corridor” to gain the accurate measurement required to break the record, an extremely impressive feat considering he’s piloting the craft from the ground.

These two animated gifs show the adolescent planthopper named the Issus, which earns its fame as the First animal with a functional gear.

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Gears 2.gif

In a situation where the Issus needs to escape from a predator, every millisecond counts towards survival, and its jump needs to be carefully controlled to avoid careering into greater danger. Larger animals (humans included) would control their jump by sending messages back and forth from the brain to the legs, but in a survival situation for the Issus, this process costs far too much time.

Instead, The Issus has developed a mechanical system to synchronise the push from each leg, allowing them to jump in a controlled manner, and in an incredibly short space of time. The gears are only present in the adolescent Issus, and are shed during the Issus' final molt before maturity, to be replaced by a frictional mechanism. The discovery of the gears was announced by University of Cambridge researchers Malcolm Burrows and Gregory Sutton (both UK), in the journal Science.


A scanning electron micrograph image of the gears. Credit: Malcolm Burrows and Gregory Sutton

In the video below, Professor Malcolm Burrows talks about the discovery.

‘Big data’ is a phrase which has entered the collective tech psyche in recent years, referring to the enormous amounts of information generated from an ever-increasing number of gadgets (the internet-connected toothbrush springs to mind, alongside sensors in cows’ stomachs to provide information on the herd’s health).

Data warehouses facilitate access to this information for reporting and analysis, both of which turn vast piles of data into useful information. During February, a collaboration between SAP, BMMsoft, HP, Intel, NetApp and Red Hat at the SAP Co-location Lab in Santa Clara, California, USA put together the largest data warehouse, at 12.1 petabytes (12,100 terabytes) of raw data. Last year, the same collaboration (minus Intel and NetApp) came together to set the record for the Fastest loading of big data, loading at a rate of 34.3 terabytes per hour. Both of these records point towards the tech world’s growing capability to deal with an ever-increasing amount of data.

Probably the largest contributing factor to this need for huge data stores is the growing use of smartphones. Mobile World Congress takes place in February of every year in Barcelona, where the tech industry and journalists congregate to get a first glimpse of the latest handsets. Many record breaking mobile products and technologies have been announced at Mobile World Congress during previous years, and we will be paying close attention to the performance of the products launched this year.

One release of particular interest to us unveiled this year’s event is the new Galaxy S5, the latest iteration of Samsung’s highly successful touchscreen smartphones.

Previous models have been vital components of record setting achievements, such as being the ‘brain’ for the Fastest robot to solve a Rubik's Cube...

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...or being typed upon for 2010’s previous record setting attempt at the Fastest time to type a text message (SMS) on a touch-screen mobile phone.

With mobiles seemingly being the flavour of the month in Tech records, we will finish up with the largest smartphone ensemble, who gathered at an event organised by Sohu IT and Vivo Xplay (both China for a rendition of Queen’s ‘We will rock you’.

223 people took part in the performance, which has been nominated for Best record-breaking branding campaign at C Squared Networks’ Festival of Media.