Richard Smith's blog

Just For Fun: The New Space Race

We are in the midst of a new space race. It isn't about proving national might, as the race to the moon was. No, this time it's just for fun.

Personal Jetpacks

Since the Wright brothers' first 12-second flight in 1903 we've seen impressive development of flying machines, from the helicopter to the Space Shuttle. However, a small, personal jetpack has proved both enticing and elusive.

Of Blended Wing-Bodies and Flying Wings

The remote controlled X-48B concept airplane flew for the first time on July 20, 2007. Joining an illustrious list of previous X-planes, such as the X-15, the X-48B aims to prove the viability of the blended wing-body concept – a combination of a flying wing and a lifting body. If history is anything to go by, the X-48B will have its work cut out.

Design-Build-Fly Competition

An international gathering of 36 student teams competed in the 2007 AIAA Design-Build-Fly competition. In its 11th year, the popular contest challenges student teams to build an unmanned, remote-controlled airplane to satisfy a series of constraints and flying tasks.

On This Day: July 16

On this day (July 16) in 1945 the atomic age began, quite literally, with a bang. The Manhattan Project detonated the world's first atomic bomb in the 'Trinity' test. On the same day other notable and connected events occurred with implications for humanity and Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD).

Curve Ball Aerodynamics

Who hasn't wondered at those magical curve balls that we see in sports such as tennis, soccer, baseball and most impressively in ping pong? Or been disappointed by a horrible slice in a game of golf? Of course, there is no magic, these are just examples of aerodynamics in action – the Magnus effect to be precise.

World Water Speed Record Challengers

The world water speed record (317mph or 511 km/h) is under assault from 3 teams. The defending world record holder, Ken Warby is up for the challenge, as are teams from the USA and the UK.

Split-Cycle Engine Concept

The new Scuderi Split-Cycle engine design concept promises increased efficiency and reduced harmful NOx emissions compared to the current generation of internal combustion engines found in most cars. Ironically, this new concept is a variation on the notoriously inefficient and polluting 2-stroke engine.

Energy from the Environment

The wind turbine is the poster child for extracting energy from our environment. However, there are numerous other devices that range from the mundane, such as hydroelectric dams, to the downright scary, such as the Atmospheric Vortex Engine which is another word for a controlled (?!) tornado.

Micro Wind Turbines

Micro (or personal) wind turbines are sprouting on the rooftops of many UK homes in an effort to defeat our addiction to fossil fuels and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Laudable goals, but most of these 'off-the-shelf' roof-mounted wind turbines struggle to generate enough electricity to power a single light bulb.

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