If your Applied Phlebotinum is broken, you can usually fix it by increasing the power.
Can't outrun the bad guys? More power to the engines. The top speed of a space ship is totally independent of its design and mechanics, and is simply a function of how much raw power it has.
Shields failing? More power. Critical pieces burning out? You'd think the solution would be to reduce the strain on that component, but no, the solution is to increase the power. The Negative Space Wedgie has nullified the physical principles on which the ship works? Turn up the power and it'll get scared and back off. Can't compute the Nth digit of pi? Increase power to the computer. Even missing or broken parts can be temporarily replaced by increased power. With the power up so high, it's no wonder there's so much Explosive Instrumentation.
Sometimes, this is subverted, and more power is a good way to destroy everything. In these cases, it may be time to Reverse the Polarities instead. If things are really bad, you do both - but beware of Explosive Overclocking.
Named for the lead character of the sitcom Home Improvement, who constantly tried to give various appliances and tools "more power." However, this typically - and on some occasions literally - blew up in his face.
Compare Up to Eleven. Oven Logic is what happens when Tim Taylor Technology is applied to cooking.
Not to be confused with the occasionally-formidable Tim Brooke-Taylor Technology. Or with needing more fire-power.
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Averted in the original Mobile Suit Gundam, where the eponymous machine's performance was improved with a new friction-reduction system instead of increasing the power output.
Played straight in Gundam SEED, where the Freedom and Justice are able to outperform the earlier Gundams primarily because of their stronger (nuclear) power source.
Its not exactly straight, the Freedom and Justice are designed to have much greater fire power than any other suit at the time. The big difference in power supply is that all of the other suits have to be charged up before a fight at a base or on a transport. The Freedom and Justice having nuclear power could outlast anything else, and be completely independent.
Gundam 00's Trans-Am system seems to show that Gundams operate on this principle: need to make a gun more powerful? More GN Particles! Need to move faster? More GN particles! Need to read people's minds? MORE GN PARTICLES!
Need toteleport to a distant alien planet? MORE GN PARTICLES!!
Indeed, the final arc of the series consisted of an exchange of one-ups with the Anti-Spiral being defeated in one form, only to simply go on a larger scale and trounce the Gurren Brigade. Simon's solution? MORE SPIRAL ENERGY!!! and the Giant RobotBIG ASS GIANT ROBOT would grow even larger to compensate and defeat the form that the Anti-Spiral took. First they were about as tall as a sky-scraper, then when that wasn't enough, they grew to a planetary scale, then to the size of a star, then to the size of the solar system. Soon they were bigger than the solar system, battling over a field of solar systems on the Milky Way. Then they out grew that too, standing and fighting on top of the Milky Way, hitting parallel, and perpendicular galaxies. By the end of the final arc, their BIG ASS GIANT ROBOT was so large that it could tear through the fabric of Space and Time. Several times over.
Of course, seeing as how Spiral Energy is something of an Expy of Getter Rays, that means that Getter Robo has been doing this for approximately three decades now. Each of the small, one-man Getter Machines has a Getter Energy reactor. Whenever they combine into the titular Humongous Mecha, they're able to do just about anything because they have... MORE POWER!
Taken to its logical conclusion with the Getter Emperor, an out-of-control planet consuming monstrosity which is variously depicted as being the size of the earth, the size of Jupiter, and once an entire galaxy. Then it punched God in the face, who promptly exploded.
Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's, Nanoha and Fate decided that the ammount of magical energy they were outputting at the time wasn't enough, so they use a Cartridge system to boost their magical power by storing it in casings, which are dumped into the weapon during combat.
Scryed Kazuma's activation phrase for the second level of his alter goes like this: "MORE POWER! AND MORE! AND MORE! SHINE BRIGHTER!"
In a DC Star Trek comic, the Excelsior was shown to have a working transwarp drive, capable of Warp 10. Transwarp has sometimes been defined as infinite speed, but only in later sources. Strange coincidence, considering Warp 10 is infinite speed by the rules of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Anyway, by Scotty diverting power from the transwarp drive, the Excelsior's shields are able to absorb the impact and detonation of a planet-killer bomb.
The 2005 Fantastic Four movie put this trope in center stage with Reed's cosmic storm simulation device for reversing their mutations. At the highest power he had available, it could do nothing but recreate or worsen their mutations. But if it had more power...
And once it did have enough power it worked, but the character who was cured went back in and mutated again so he could face the Big Bad.
In Batman Forever, Edward Nygma (soon to become The Riddler) straps his boss to a chair to use him as a guinea pig for his augmented reality TV system, "The Box". The man is left enraptured by the illusion, but when it starts to break down, Nygma applies "more power!" in an attempt to fix it...and ends up discovering that The Box, in addition to making people experience television in immersive 3D, depletes their IQ and adds it to his own.
Sark yells for more power in TRON when he is trying to break down the door to the I/O Tower. Somewhat justified as this takes place in the computer world, and the programs can drink energy.
Well that just depends on if he meant more ELECTRICAL power, or more PROCESSING power, which considering what the Master Control Program says near the end of the movie, when Sark is taken down by Tron himself;
In The Hunt for Red October, Captain Tupolev of the Konovalov is dispatched to hunt down and sink the Red October. However, when he receives these orders, they are already seven hours old; thus the Red October has a seven-hour head start on him. In an effort to make up the lost time, he orders the reactor power increased, though not without hesitation.
Tupolev: Inquire about the possibility of going to one hundred five percent on the reactor.
Crewman: Captain, Engineering reports one hundred five percent on the reactor possible, but not recommended.
Justified since reactors are generally rated such that a hundred percent is for safe, continuous output - so it is possible to get more out, but things can start to go wrong.
The reactors used on AMERICAN nuclear vessels (of all types) are rated to be completely safe when operated up to 100% (which in this context means nothing from inside the reactor is going to cause a breach). The reactors used on Soviet vessels were not nearly so safe. One problem is that they weren't nearly as well sealed, and could leak even under normal operating conditions. Sailors in the Red Navy were rightly afraid of their reactors, which US sailors never needed to be.
Nuclear subs run on electric motor drive. Nuff said. MOAR power = MOAR rpm. As to reactor output safety margins, the indicated or proscribed figures are rather lower than theoretical maximum tolerances, for some pretty obvious reasons.
No they don't. At least not the Russian an American ones. They use the steam produced in cooling the reactor to drive a steam turbine connected directly to the propeller shaft. More power means ,more steam which means more rpm for the steam turbine. The only nuclear subs that interpose an electric drive between the steam turbine and the propeller shaft are the French and Chinese submarines.
The book presents an alternate problem with trying to run the reactor at higher than safety tolerances: the submarine replaced with Tupolev's in the movie suffered a reactor meltdown of the sort that involved the reactor pile melting its way out of the submarine.
Since Ramius taught Tupolev, it's no surprise he does the same in the final sub duel:
Ramius: Melekhin, more speed.
Melekhin: Negative, we're allready at one hundred ten percent.
Ramius: Then get me a hundred and fifteen percent.
Subverted in Unstoppable. Gunning the locomotive full throttle in the opposite direction after it's been hooked up to the speeding train would only cause it to lose its grip on the tracks as the main train pulls it along. Therefore, Frank and Will alternate their locomotive's power between directions to slow the train down more effectively.
Inverted in Honey, I Shrunk The Kids. The shrink ray, if given too much power, becomes a Death Ray. It's not until Ron's baseball blocks a laser mechanism that the shrink ray's power is reduced enough to actually shrink things. This carries over to Honey I Blew Up the Kid, where Wayne, unable to get into the primary laser drive to reduce the power, tries to diffuse the laser intensity by putting a glass bottle bottom in the filter pack, which ends up causing a power surge throughout the lab.
Back To The Future Part III: Doc's solution to getting the steam engine to reach 88 mph is some pyrotechnically-treated wood that brutally overclocks the engine. You can probably guess how it ends.
Since they deliberately ran the engine off the end on an un-finished bridge they knew the overclocking wasn't going to be the worst problem.
Ultimately Rule of Drama, considering the speeds needed to get the time machine up to speed were well within the normal performance capabilities of locomotives at the time. Part of the planning stage was confirming this with the engineer.
The engineer mentions that they'd need to run with a very high boiler pressure. Since Doc can't really hang around on the locomotive to stoke the fire, using the concentrated explodium logs- 'I use them in my forge so I don't have to stoke it' to boost the pressure does make sense.
Live Action TV
Many episodes of Quantum Leap end with Al suddenly appearing and declaring they've figured out how to solve the current plot problem with enough power to light up major city X with time period Y.
Al:We did it, Sam! We did it! Of course it took enough power to light up St. Louis for a month but we did it!
Later deconstructed in a ST:TNG episode featuring Scotty, in which he explains to Chief Engineer Geordi LaForge that he always held something back and padded time estimates to make sure he would come off as a miracle worker. Oh, and as a side effect of Scotty writing most of the Engineering manuals that they use in Geordi's time, that means that most of the ships in the Star Trek universe by TNG time are running at about 33% efficiency.
This just goodessential engineering practice. A bridge with a 10 ton load limit isn't going to collapse if you put an 11 ton truck on it. It will probably be okay with a 20 ton truck. This also partially supports the Super Prototype trope, as prototypes are often tested to their limits in order to figure out what those limits actually are.
Star Trek: The Next Generation used this trope frequently, but inverted it in the episode "Booby Trap", where more power simply fed more energy to the titular devices which held the ship immobile and bombarded it with radiation. The solution was to shut down all the power systems and slip away on minimal life support and a single thruster pack.
Another inversion in "Hero Worship", when one ship is destroyed (and the Enterprise nearly follows) by a Negative Space Wedgie when it keeps increasing the power to its shields - it turns out the phenomenon was actually an amplified echo of the shields themselves.
Star Trek: Voyager used the device to the point of absurdity, including one instance where "more power" was used to counteract the fact that most of the ship had dissolved into a cloud of deuterium. However, this was also inverted when Voyager hit a "subspace sandbank", so the more they struggled, the more stuck they got. So, they wiggled themselves free with minimal power.
It also had an absurd case where this trope was applied to cooking speed.
Not absurd that it was tried, however, given that Neelix is generally regarded as a Lethal Chef.
iCarly: Spencer's magnetic Christmas tree. He could have just made a regular metallic Christmas tree. Instead he added a supercharged magnetic generator. It caught fire after he left it on during the night.
The many troubles facing the crew of Stargate Atlantis would be solved if only they could locate a sufficient power source; but this is a minor subversion, because the Ancients built the city for three ZPMs, and they had all burnt out by the time the Atlantis team got there. Much of the first few seasons are spent trying to find more ZPMs or otherwise come up with a way to solve their power problems.
There is an episode wherein the power cables are damaged. McKay's solution? MORE POWER! This is however justified, as McKay states that the damaged wires are 'leaking' power, and by sending more through them, hopefully enough will get to the device to actually power it.
The Stargate franchise in general literally turns this trope Up to Eleven. Most equipment will run off energy sources orders of magnitude greater than what they were designed to be used with, boosting their power Over Nine Thousand. This includes Energy Weapons, Deflector Shields, and the living hull of a Wraith Hiveship. Normally, a Wraith hiveship is strong enough to withstand a single nuke and quite a few shots from Asgard beam weapons but unable to travel between galaxies due to it's slow speed in hyperspace. However, when a ZPM was tied into the power system, the ship grew a reinforced hull that made Asgard weapons COMPLETELY USELESS... and it crossed several million lightyears in a matter of hours.
Another example: the stargates themselves. When O'Neill tried to dial the Ida galaxy, the gate couldn't connect even though the entire American power grid was at their disposal. So he disassembled a STAFF WEAPON and used it's liquid naquadah power cell to make a "power booster". Once he hooked it up to the gate, it suddenly got the energy needed to connect to another stargate four million lightyears away. Mind you: such a connection requires ASTRONOMICAL AMOUNTS OF POWER.
Several times in Sliders, "more power" was the solution to an uncooperative wormhole (and in the pilot episode, "more power" created the balky wormhole that started the entire mess).
Automan was a hologram that had turned into Hard Light because he had simply been "given enough power," as was dryly stated in the opening monologue.
When the title starship of Star Trek: Enterprise has its prototype phase cannons installed early on, their performance was initially far beyond expectations due to sabotage. A blast meant to take out a mountain on a lifeless rock cratered an area ten times larger than intended. When the ship that performed the sabotage came back and proved resistant to the base settings, they reproduced the overload to defeat it.
24, while more realistic than most, tends to solve many problems by getting more processing power on it. Apparently, all that you need to enhance a blurry cloud from CCTV into a detailed closeup, "track" someone with a satellite, restore an inaudible recording, and do other impossible things, is more processing power and time. It doesn't work this way in real life, where for almost a decade raw power is in excess for most tasks, and the limitations are the algorithms and the physical possibility.
In Top Gear, this is Jeremy Clarkson's answer to just about any problem.
Clarkson: Well, just give it more power.
Hammond: There's a Clarkson answer to a problem.
See the V8 blender and the V8 rocking chair, for two examples that suffered from problems.
MythBusters. Rule Of Cool applies after they've busted the actually possible part of the myth. A human can't actually swing that hard? Ramp it up as fast as the robot arm will go. The amount of explosives used in the myth doesn't get the stated result? Use a few blocks of C4 then.
If the myth does prove to be confirmed, they still ramp it up to see how far they can push it. So burning 30,000 matchheads looks exactly like that viral clip... let's see what a million matchheads will do!
Home Improvement, naturally. One of Tim Taylor's most notable acts was when he put so much fuel into a barbecue grill that it achieved geosynchronous orbit. In general though, his solution to any problem is to put more power in it. Whereas science fiction puts more power into laser cannons and shields, Tim Taylor is the king of Mundane Utility for power levels normally reserved for NASA.
This was Lampshaded in at least one case. Tim wanted to buy a security system for his home, but most uncharacteristically, he just wanted a simple system. As soon as he told his friends at the hardware shop he was getting a security system, they immediately assumed he'd go his normal route and went nuts thinking up insane measures to install. One of them announced proudly that Tim's home was going to be the first one with "first-strike capabilities."
Made even funnier: when he got the system home, he told his wife Jill that it was just a basic system with the minimal options. She immediately told him to go back and get a top-of-the-line system, nothing was too great, in this case.
The TARDIS in Doctor Who can perform even more amazing feats than normal (such as escaping the Big Bang, or leaving the universe entirely) if it deletes some of its own interior rooms for power. This has been seen in Castrovalva and The Doctor's Wife. In the former, this had unforeseen consequences as one of the rooms destroyed was the Zero Room that the Doctor needed to recuperate from his regeneration.
Averted in "Logopolis" where The Master tries using "more power" in order to reverse entropy, only to be told that "more power will only increase the rate of decay", which is actually Truth in Television (IE The Second Law of Thermodynamics applies).
LazyTown is one example. As the "evil dude" kipnaps Stephanie, his mind is full of Tim Taylor Technology by using notes.
Milford/To Whom it may concern, I have your niece/Stephanie. If you want to see Stephanie/her again, surrender LazyTown to me! R.R.
In a Garfield Christmas strip, Jon buys an electric rotating base for his Christmas tree because he wanted a little splash and dash. Garfield decides to give him more splash and dash by replacing the base with a blender set to liquify.
The tinker gnomes from the Dragonlance campaign setting, creating absurdly large machines and devices that make a lot of noise and produce a lot of light, and are often ridiculously oversized for the tasks they're designed to do. In game terms, the larger a tinker gnome device, the more chance it has of actually working successfully.
The Empire of Warhammer. A lot of their gunpowder / steam technology is Dwarf technology with extra power; gattling cannons and rocket batteries are good examples.
Geniuses in Genius The Transgression can sometimes forestall Havoc (their inventions going haywire) by pouring Mania into them. Sometimes they explode. But then, of course they occasionally explode! They were built by Mad Scientists!
Just about everything in Star Fleet Battles, which makes sense given its source material. Shields block more damage if they have more power. Engines move faster if they have more power. Most weapons can be overcharged to do more damage if they have more power. Not turning fast enough? Tilt your warp nacelles sideways and pour more power into a high-energy turn. Tractor beams? Longer range with more power. Resisting enemy tractor beams? Easier with more power. Want to jam your enemy's radar? More power. Want to cut through enemy jamming? More power! It seems that the only thing that can't improve with more power is the life-support system, and presumably the engineers are working on that. In this case it's more a matter of budgeting a limited resource though; there isn't enough power to keep everything maxed all the time.
One level in Halo 4 has Cortana diverting power from Master Chief's shields into the engines of the Ghost he's driving, allowing it to perpetually drive with its boosters running. Because, you know, the reason boosters usually cannot indefinitely run has nothing to do with all Covenant technology being so prone to overheating.
The X-Wing/Tie Fighter series of space sims allowed the player to divert power to either shields, guns, or engines, increasing the performance of one or more of them at the cost of decreasing the performance of the remaining device(s). FreeSpace and later games in the Wing Commander series also used this play mechanic. Unlike the typical applications of this trope though, it usually doesn't affect the maximum performance of these systems, but rather the rate at which they or associated systems recharged. This may have been inspired by the part of Star Wars, where Luke says "R2, try to increase the power!", and also the lines where pilots say "Switch your deflectors on double front," and "Stabilize your rear deflectors".
The Missile Boat, found in the Tie Fighter expansion packs, provides a more traditional example of this trope. This particular craft features the SLAM booster system, allowing the player to double the ship's speed by draining stored energy from the laser system - essentially trading laser cannon shots for seconds of speed boost. Being the MissileBoat, however, this had little effect on its firepower.
This also occurs in many of the Star Wars Expanded Universe novels, particularly the X-Wing Series. Often a pilot will find himself in a situation where he has sufficient power for N systems and needs N+1 functioning. This often turns into cursing the design flaws of that particular craft.
It DOES affect maximum performance of systems in Independence War, just because more weapons power means that PBCs recharge faster, do more damage, and have somewhat longer range. More engine power means both greater acceleration and less time for the LDS drive to start up. More shield power means stronger and faster-recharging shields. Underpowered systems get penalized much as you'd expect. Also note that the best way to fight in this game generally involves spending the vast majority of time with maxed engine power and only going into maxed weapon power for when you've got a good shot with your PBCs; very rarely might you divert energy toward shields, since they only tend to block PBCs (in a game where you tend to have homing missiles spammed at you, each doing about 20% hull damage with the tug), and only from two directions at that.
While not stated, the Mega Armoured Nobz of Dawn of War seem to perform this through the ability, Power Surge: Their movement speed is doubled for 15 seconds, but lose 10 hitpoints every second for that 15 also. No doubt that the damage is from the Mek Boy who built the armour in the first place having skimped a bit on electrical insulation.
Star Trek: Starfleet Command is, of course, a Star Trek game about commanding a starship, so it naturally features this, but it also features an interesting case where Tim Taylor Technology would be justified, up to a degree: a species (the Lyrans) into More Dakka to the degree that their ships doesn't really have enough power to maintain their shields, weapons and combat-necessary systems (like, say, life support) at the power levels they are designed for. Since you can divert power, however, at least one of those systems can work at optimal condition, so long as you are willing to pay the price for the system diverted from...
One guy you can talk to in Final Fantasy IX asks you if the engine for an airship should go in the front or the back. If you reply that it should go in the front, he throws a fit and says that it should go in the back, because "putting it in the front provides mor stability, but less power!" This is Lampshaded by another guy standing next to him, who sagely points out that most airship engineers are weird, and wonders why that is.
The Flavor Text in Mass Effect 3 reveals that the weapons and shields rely at least somewhat on Tim Taylor Technology. The Hahne-Kedar armor set explicitly says that they rerouted excess suit power to weapons, which increases their damage. Also, the Codex for the first game says that the titular mass effect fields occur when electricity runs through element zero. It's not that much of a stretch to think that the strength of mass effect fields relies partly on how much of a current running through it, justifying this trope.
In Star Control 2, the crystalline Chenjesu and the robotic Mmrnmhrm have surrendered to the Ur-Quan invasion fleet and agreed to be sealed under a Slave Shield on the same planet, secretly because they had plans to merge their compatable physiologies. The Process, as it's called, runs on solar power and thus will be complete in about 35 years — which is roughly 34 years after the Kohr-Ah wipe out all other life in the galaxy. Thus, the player's character locates a device that puts out massive amounts of solar radiation and uses it at the Chenjesu homeworld, (mostly) completing The Process in a few seconds.
In Chrono Trigger, when Lucca attempts to send Chrono back in time after Marle, she repeatedly tells Taban to increase the power. That's how mad science works, apparently.
EVE Online let's you, with the correct knowledge of thermodynamics, overheat just about any module of your ship that you "turn on", guns and afterburners included. Note that this is not without side effects, and you'll either need to patch up the damage overheating causes with liquid duct tape before the module shuts down completely, or pay for repairs at a station (which is the only way to reactivate a module that's been completely burned out).
In Guild Wars 2, Asura Magitek can involve this. One story quest has a professor try to prove that dragons and their minions feed off magic by giving one of them an overdose; naturally it turns huge and goes on a rampage. And if you chose the Val-A Golem as your first invention, a rival will try to "improve" your design by stuffing it with too many power cells. The characters expect that this will also cause it to go nuts, but it merely explodes.
Another Asura wants to infuse raptor eggs with magic to make them grow, but decides that this is too slow and, predictably, increases the power. The result is a giant magic infused raptor chasing him down. The Asura are basically all over this trope.
After Riff in Sluggy Freelance "improved" his ex-girlfriend's life by amplifying her kitchen sink to a geyser:
Monica: I think you're right about all guys [overpowering stuff]. The plumbers' invoice included an hour of assessing, two hours of repair and 15 minutes of "mandatory applause".
In Schlock Mercenary, teraport area denial systems can be penetrated by a sufficiently large amount of energy, and the Fleetmind has that level of energy. Except that it needs every petawatt of it to defend planets from the Pa'anuri, and it is essentially sacrificing millions of lives each time it chooses to use it for other purposes. This isn't, however, universal. Forcing a damaged annie plant to output max power is NOT a good idea.
New moon? Can't see anything? Wanna fix that? Or maybe you're just sick of the moon and want to vaporize the whole thing. Either way, in his blog What If? Randall "xkcd" Munroe tells you how. In another entry he hangs a lampshade on it:
"I've always thought that one of the the great things about physics is that you can add more digits to any number and see what happens and nobody can stop you."
From TextsFromLastNight: "I don't care how hungry or impatient you are. the highest setting on the microwave is 100% and you better not take it appart to add power. This is not the Enterprise."
Averted in The Venture Brothers when the Venture family tries to make it out of Ünderland after their experimental jet is disabled; Doctor Venture frantically and repeatedly demands that they switch to auxiliary power, and when they finally land, Brock snaps back, "WE DON'T HAVE AUXILIARY POWER!"
Parodied on The Simpsons. NASA are watching television to get an idea of what the average American is like. They turn on Home Improvement to hear Tim Taylor declare he's just finished souping up his lawnmower. Then the lawnmower goes backwards instead of forwards, knocking over the fence and illciting this line
Tim: Oh no! I've killed Wilson. Oh well, looks like it's back to jail for me
Truth in Television: Aircraft of all kinds (be they prop planes, helicopters or supersonic jets) do not always fly at their maximum speed. They have a 'cruise' speed at which they operate at optimum performance for distance, speed and fuel usage. The UH-60 "Black Hawk", for example, has a cruise speed of 150 knots (173 mph, 278 km/h) and a "maximum" speed of 159 kn (183 mph, 295 km/h). Some aircraft also have a "never exceed" speed, beyond which flight canwill become dangerous. Jet engines are also rarely operated at maximum power, because it will reduce their lifespan considerably (and use disproportionally more fuel).
The most notorious example is the Mig-25. It is "redlined" at Mach 2.8, though it can fly at Mach 3, but one aircraft that was tracked doing so ended up destroying its engines during the flight.
And by "destroying," we mean "spinning so fast and with such high suction that it ate pieces of itself until it tore apart." Not to mention the fuel pumps lost all control, meaning the thing was stuck on full throttle until it ran out of fuel. Fun.
It's not all that bad. At Mach 3 a Mig-25 is never more than 90 miles away from completely out of fuel. With the afterburners lit the Mig-25's engines are going through 34 pounds of fuel ... every second. The constraints imposed by having to build the whole plane out of stainless steel due to difficulties machining titanium made the Mig-25 rather Awesome, but Impractical.
Make that ALL aircraft. The Vne generally has less to do with the integrity of the motive power and everything to do with the fact that the airframe itself will start to come apart if the aircraft flies too fast.
This applies to the four-stroke/two-stroke engine as well. These engines are usually never run anywhere near maximum RPM, for the reason that going that fast will cause a lot of mechanical wear and heat on the engine. Many cars sold have the ECU effectively cap the RPM before the redline (the area in the tachometer that has a red stripe along it). Of course, if you really need that power, you can hack the ECU to not do this.
Also, combat airplanes technically can turn much tighter than they usually are made to - more often than not it's the pilot who can't take the fact that all his power (i.e. blood) is being forcibly re-routed to his feet or head. Modern flight suits help fighter pilots sustain greater amounts of G-forces than WW 2 pilots, but they still have their never exceed limits... which they'll sometimes exceed anyway in life-or-death situations.
Similar to the aircraft example above, most military vehicles have governers to limit the amount of power the engines are capable of achieving; and thus limiting the vehicle's top speed. When deployed to a combat zone, one of the first things the crews do is remove, disable, or bypass the power governers.
American military vehicle and radio systems, generators and other non-man-portable electronics, also have special circuit breakers to protect them from power surges or over-power states. In combat there are switches or software modes that will keep it running no matter what. It's called "Battle Short" or "Combat", basically a switch or software mode that allows the operator to bypass the circuit breaker in emergency situations.
As seen in the film The Fast and the Furious,nitrous oxide injectors can briefly give an internal combustion engine a massive burst of power, although the effects in real life are less reality-blurring than in the movies. Nitrous oxide doesn't make a car go faster, since it simply increases the combustion power of the engine, making the car accelerate faster, unless your vehicle's speed is not limited by engine revs, but by engine power. If your top gear can propel the car faster at max revs than the engine has power to beat air resistance, then adding the nitrous will increase the vehicle's maximum speed.
Nitrous oxide (N2O) breaks in the cylinder into nitrogen and oxygen. It increases both the concentration of oxygen, making the engine running hotter, and concentration of inert, increasing the cylinder pressure. This will result in a sudden and dramatic increase of revolutions.
This device was known as Haha-Gerät (Ha!-Ha! Device) in the WWII Luftwaffe. It enabled the pilot to squeeze some 60% more revolutions off the engine momentarily - enabling a troubled pilot to escape the enemy. It also worked as a psychological weapon; the Haha-Gerät spat out an enormous tongue of flame off the exhaust, giving an impression of the plane igniting. Often that was enough to convince the enemy that the plane was a kill already and give up the pursuit.
Before you go wondering about the purpose of that name, remember that nitrous oxide is also laughing gas. Makes watching racing movies a bit funnier when you think about it.
Another similar device was WEP (War Emergency Power) on American turbocharged radial engines. It employed water-methanol mixture inhection in the cylinder. Germans also employed it as the MW-50 ("Methanol-Wasser 50-50").
In practice, due to providing oxygen for combustion, nitrous oxide is a chemical supercharger, while methanol injection (which cools down the flame front via vaporization and also enriches the fuel via methanol burn) is a chemical intercooler.
Our existing particle accelerators weren't capable of getting colliding particles to produce the Higgs boson particle. So we built the Large Hadron Collider, a 17 mile long particle accelerator, to give us more power!
This is basically the whole idea behind overclocking computer components. Likewise, sometimes defective parts can be 'fixed' by adding more voltage to force enough power through the problem. In the latter case, this is mostly a short term solution as too much power will cause issues of its own and long term exposure to overvolting will reduce the life span of the device.
Before the age of electronic fuel injection, engines designed for high-rpm (mostly Alfa-Romeos, Maseratis and Ferraris) had very rich settings in carburettor jets and also ignition timing designed for high-rpm operation, which made them nearly unworkable at low rpm (an Alfa-Romeo twin-cam engine owner described it like "it huffed and puffed until 5,000 rpm, then exploded into a mad surge to the redline"). So repeated city driving resulted in carbon deposits from unburnt fuel throughout the engine, which had to cleaned in a prolonged redline run on the highway to heat up the engine and burn them, which got the nickname "Italian tune-up".
Modern day turbocharged engines are also designed to be driven hard, to keep the exhaust manifold and turbocharger hot enough◊ to afterburn carbon in the exhaust gases. Under-driving them will slowly coke up the turbocharger rotor and housing, loose power and fail emissions test in the near future.
At the Battle off Samar on October 25, 1944, the captain of the destroyer escort USS Samuel B. Roberts ordered his chief engineer to lock down the safety valves on the ship's boilers and run the steam pressure at above the ship's rated maximum — in effect, overclocking the Roberts' entire engineering plant — to increase speed. It worked.
The human body often works this way. Muscles not getting enough oxygen? Crank up the heartbeat and respiration! And if that's not enough, lactic acid fermentation will provide you with the more power you need!
And if that's not enough? Well, only a third of your muscles normally operate at any one time. Throw them all into gear. (Note that doing this causes massive tissue damage, so the body will save it for live-or-die situations. But this is where stories of people lifting cars unaided come from.) Most primates can do this safely all the time, it's why chimps are so much stronger than a human with the same muscle mass.
Railguns and coilguns work this way. The higher the electric charge in the rails is, the faster the projectile travels. Since railguns rely on the kinetic energy of the projectile to do damage, more power directly equals more firepower. On the downside, the faster the projectile travels, the more friction it generates, causing the rails to heat up and warp.
As mentioned in a couple of previous examples, nuclear power plants (and to a lesser extent conventional ones) have variable power output and "100% power" generally refers to the maximum output within acceptable parameters. So it's possible, but very dangerous, to operate above 100%.
The WWER 440 reactors at the NP PsMochovce and Dukovany are (safely) running at higher power than originally designed for. However, this required modification of several components.
In closely matched street races, try turning off the A/C.
The American "Big Three" car companies tend to take this approach to designing cars, often focusing on ramping up size and engine power and flaunting their MORE POWER!! in commercials. Like Tim Taylor's attempts, this blew up in their faces when the price of gas shot up, tanking demand for their powerful gas-guzzlers.
Russian car brand Volga used to have a ridiculously over-powered engine compared to the other properties of the car. Most importantly, the car was cheap - all the desired properties for any wannabe rally driver. The car was nicknamed "Flying Coffin" in Finland - many wannabe rally pilots simply pushed the pedal to the metal, but the steering gear, transmission and brakes (and usually the skills of the driver) weren't really up to par to handle such powers. Those who survived usually became good rally drivers.
Ingeniously averted by many European and Japanese carmakers, who can somehow squeeze out performance from their cars without resorting to more power. An example is the 2007 Nissan GT-R, which despite being heavier and having less power, can keep up with the 2009 Chevy Corvette C6 ZR-1 on the Nürburgring Nordeschleife as shown here. And even with a bit more power, the upcoming 2012 Nissan GT-R is still less powerful and heavier than the Corvette ZR-1, but already demonstrated potential superior performance in early tests.
Similarly, jet engines can sustain short bursts over their maximum rated thrust to take off or abort a landing.
The Z-Machine◊, a device with a peak power output of 290 terawatts, over 10 times the combined power flowing through all of the world's electrical grid for a few tens of nanoseconds, generating a plasma implosion, an extremely powerful X-ray blast and lightning storm, and partially destroying itself. Originally built as a nuclear bomb simulator with an output of 50 tW, it's now being used as an extreme physics experiment and fusion power testbed, with plans to upgrade it to output 1 petawatt - 1000 tW. It's working principle, the Z-pinch, essentially involves gathering as much energy as you can and releasing it one extremely powerful shot through a couple of poor thin wires, causing said wires to explode into a plasma and then causing the plasma to then crush itself under its own magnetic field. This process, apart from generating huge amounts of X-rays creating, can generate stupendous temperatures, many times hotter than the center of the Sun. It is one of the ways of achieving inertial confinement fusion reactions - the other two ways involve having hundreds of giant laser beams simultaneously converge on a tiny ball of hydrogen as in the 500 tW National Ignition Facility or have a runaway fission chain reaction - a nuclear bomb - implode on a hydrogen target - creating a thermonuclear bomb.
Laser pickups in CD players usually go bad either due to increasing opacity of the lens, or reduced power output of the diode. In theses cases, a very Tim Taylor fix of upping the calibration trimmer (increasing the laser's power) is employed.
Similar to the Samuel B. Robberts example above, we has a civillian example of Tim Tayloring for an emergancy: The RMS Carpathia had a registered top speed of only 14 knots (16 mph). When he got the Titanic's distress signal, what does Captain Rostron do? Cut off the heat to the A/C and hot water taps and redirect it all to the engines for MORE POWER! Doing so scored the 500+ foot long liner a speedy (for her) 17.5 knots (20.1 mph). ARR ARR ARR!