Richard Smith's blog

Tailgate: Up or Down?

Debate rages (OK, maybe rages is a little strong) amongst pickup truck drivers as to whether it is more efficient to drive with the tailgate up or down. The urban legend is that running a truck with the tailgate down reduces the truck's drag and therefore improves its fuel economy.

Airflow Around a Pickup Truck with its Tailgate UpAirflow Around a Pickup Truck with its Tailgate Up

3D Interaction Controls Revisited

Is it time for new interaction controls in 3D modeling applications such as Computer-Aided Engineering (CAE) analysis tools? Interacting with 3D models on a 2D screen has always been less than intuitive. However, a recent flurry of innovation in human-computer controls holds out much promise for the future of 3D model control.

E3 2009: Project Natal Xbox 360 Announcement

Vertical-Axis Wind Turbine Drafting

A recent study into vertical-axis wind turbines (VAWTs) showed that their efficiency could be improved by arranging them into clusters to exploit drafting, i.e., placing VAWTs in the wake of other VAWTs.

Savonius Vertical-Axis Wind TurbineSavonius Vertical-Axis Wind Turbine

New F1 Team Uses CFD Only

As the 2010 Formula 1 (F1) season approaches, excitement is mounting as a new batch of teams enters the ring. One such team - Virgin Racing (VR) - is hitting the headlines with their radical approach of only using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) to test and develop the aerodynamics of their car.

F1 CFD SimulationF1 CFD SimulationSymscape does not hold the copyright on this picture

Open or Closed Source Software

Raised eyebrows are the norm when people realize that I have developed a Closed Source Software (CSS) application by integrating a number of Open Source Software (OSS) systems. Before we explore the Symscape business model, keep in mind that everyone needs shelter, food, and health-care, i.e., even software developers need to be paid.

Caedium: State-of-the-art plumbingCaedium: State-of-the-art 'plumbing'

British Steam Car with a Need for Speed

What is it with Brits and their Need for Speed? I've covered Greenbird, the record-breaking land yacht, Quicksilver, a contender for the world water-speed record, and Bloodhound SSC, the concept design for another world land-speed car from the team that holds the current record. What do they all have in common? You guessed it, they are all British-based teams. Well, we can add another team to the list - that of 'The British Steam Car,' who recently broke the world land-speed record for a steam-powered car.

British Steam Car Breaks World Record

Future Tech: Cheap and Simple

The idea that price and capability are intimately linked goes without question, but when a disruptive technology or business model introduces a step change in that relationship, then you have a revolution - or if you are the incumbent, you have a dilemma. Cheap and simple is coming, ready or not.

HP Founders GarageGarage: Breeding ground for cheap and simpleLicense: CC BY 2.0, Brian Solis

Riblets: 400 Million Years in the Making

Sharks have been around for over 400 million years, pre-dating the dinosaurs by some 200 million years. 400 million years is quite a time to perfect the swift swimming skills that make sharks one of the most efficient predators on the Earth. But it's not only technique that makes sharks fast. Their slippery streamlined shape helps to minimizes pressure drag, and a specialized skin layer (dermal denticles) minimizes skin friction drag and serves as the inspiration for riblets.

Shark Skin Up CloseShark Skin Up Close

Visualization Award Secrets

As part of the recent "Scientific Discovery through Advanced Computing" (SciDAC) conference, an evening was devoted to choosing the top 10 scientific visualizations of the year. This year Wired ran an article on the most recent award winners, which raised the awards' profile to the visualization world's equivalent of the Oscars. So what does it take to win visualization awards? Read on for my 'simple' 5-step plan.

WWII Stealthy Flying Wing

The Northrop Grumman B-2 is the epitome of a stealthy flying wing. However, a recent study has shown that the Horton Ho 229, a World War II (WWII) flying-wing prototype, also shared a number of characteristics with the B-2, including stealth - 45 years prior to the first flight of the B-2.

Horton Ho 229Horton Ho 229

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