Issuu on Google+


worlds Spring 2008


big brother

Getting under the skin of biometric identification

dancing in space Will we soon be holidaying on the moon?

01 SW1.indd 1

25/03/2008 14:26:41




7^dbZY^XVaVcY7^dad\^XVaHX^ZcXZh L^i]hjW_ZXihgVc\^c\[gdbi]ZhijYnd[VaaVheZXihd[a^k^c\dg\Vc^hbh! Xjii^c\ZY\Zldg`^c\ZcZiZX]cdad\n!VcYZkVajVi^c\]jbVc]ZVai]VcY eZg[dgbVcXZ^cWdi]Vi]aZiZhVcY^cZci^gZedejaVi^dch!i]ZhZXdjghZh egZeVgZndj[dg'&hiXZcijgnXVgZZgh^cXajY^c\i]Zdeedgijc^inid WZXdbZVgZ\^hiZgZYW^dbZY^XVahX^Zci^hi# ™ 7HX7^dbZY^XVaHX^ZcXZ ™7HX7^dhX^ZcXZh$7HX7^dhX^ZcXZhl$;djcYVi^dcNZVg ™7HXBdaZXjaVg7^dad\n$7HXBdaZXjaVg7^dad\nl$;djcYVi^dcNZVg ™ 7HXHedgih7^dbZY^X^cZ

8dbeaZbZciVgn=ZVai] I]ZJc^kZgh^in]VhaZYi]ZlVn^ci]^hVgZV!l^i]i]Z[^ghiYZ\gZZ^c ]ZgWVabZY^X^cZ^cVhhdX^Vi^dcl^i]i]ZCVi^dcVa>chi^ijiZd[BZY^XVa =ZgWVa^hih!VcYi]Z[^ghiXdjghZdjih^YZ8]^cV^cIgVY^i^dcVa8]^cZhZ BZY^X^cZ#;dXjhdcVaaVheZXihd[XdbeaZbZciVgnbZY^X^cZ!^cXajY^c\ 6njgkZYV!i]ZhX^ZcXZd[a^[ZVcYadc\Zk^in# ™ 7HX8dbeaZbZciVgn=ZVai]HX^ZcXZh ™ 7HX8dbeaZbZciVgn=ZVai]HX^ZcXZh6njgkZYV ™ 7HX=ZgWVaBZY^X^cZE]nidi]ZgVen ™ 7HXIgVY^i^dcVa8]^cZhZBZY^X^cZ

HedgihVcY:mZgX^hZHX^ZcXZ L^i]XVgZZgdeedgijc^i^Zh^cXajY^c\ldg`^c\l^i]^ciZgcVi^dcVaan[Vbdjh Vi]aZiZhdgXajWhVhVhedgihgZ]VW^a^iVidg!i]ZhZXdjghZhegdk^YZi]Z hX^Zci^[^Xh`^aahZhhZci^Va[dgXVgZZghl^i]Vcnegd[Zhh^dcVahedgi# ™ 7HXHedgiVcY:mZgX^hZHX^ZcXZ ™ 7HXHedgiGZ]VW^a^iVi^dcVcY>c_jgnEgZkZci^dc ™ 7HXHedgih7^dbZY^X^cZ ™ ;YHX8dVX]^c\VcYHedgih9ZkZadebZci ™ ;YHX=ZVai]VcY;^icZhh

;dgVEgdheZXijhZbV^a/VYb^hh^dch5bYm#VX#j` dgXVaaidYVndc/

%'%-)&&**** lll#bYm#VX#j`


01 SW1.indd 2

25/03/2008 14:49:24






worlds SPRING 2008


Hey technophiles! BIG BROTHER

This edition has been a lot of fun to put together. We delved into the world of travel and transport and got a first hand look at how many exciting and rewarding careers there are. Find out what’s new in car technology, see what a NASA astronaut has to say for herself or win an Asus EEE PC 4GB laptop. …and watch out for some big changes in the next issue. Stay tuned, and happy reading! Michelle Manning-Wareham, Editor

Getting under the skin of biometric identification

DANCING IN SPACE Will we soon be holidaying on the moon?


The right formula 01 SW1.indd 1

25/03/2008 14:26:41

With near endless budgets and the constant pursuit of faster lap times, is the adrenalin fuelled world of Formula 1 the ultimate dream job for automotive engineers? We spoke to KATRIONA JONES, a composite design engineer for Williams, to find out more

Name: Katriona Jones College/University background: Oxford Brookes University Course: Automotive Engineering Age: 25 From the outside, Formula 1 looks like one of the most glamorous sports in the world. Does it feel glamorous from the inside? No, not at all! We have black-tie ‘dos’ at Christmas, but that's about as glamorous as it gets. We try to have social events (curry nights, trips to the pub, etc.) as often as possible as it does improve the working relationships between people, but they're certainly not glamorous occasions.


Are there many women involved in Formula 1 engineering? Is it changing? There are a lot more women involved now than there were when I first started working about seven years ago. It is still very much a male dominated environment, and I think any women wanting to work in F1 shouldn't expect that to change any time soon. However, I never encountered any problems being the only girl. If anything, I think it sometimes worked to my advantage. Since I was a bit of a novelty, people would go out of their way to speak to me, to help me and to get to know me.

What was the biggest shock when you left college and started working in the ‘real world’?

The biggest shock was probably the hours. In F1, the hours can be very long, especially during the winter as preparation for the new season comes to a climax.

What’s the best thing about the job you do? The thing I like most about what I do is the speed with which designs can be realised. From conception to having a component on a car in a race can take just a matter of weeks. There are really very few other engineering industries that can realise those sorts of rapid scheduling possibilities.

Do you think that working with ‘civilian’ (i.e. road) cars would be boring by comparison? I think working on road cars would offer different challenges. Cost reduction and design

6 6-7.inddF.indd 6

04 News Update

The latest from Science Worlds about our big forthcoming name change, plus our latest ask the expert.

05 Opportunity aplenty Ian Pearson, Minister of State, gives the word on opportunity in science, engineering and technology.

06 The race is on…

We speak to Katriona Jones: F1 engineer.

25/03/2008 13:22:14

08 Time for an ePassport? 16 Back to the future A high-tech license to travel.

10 Mechanically sound

New technology for a new car.

A mechanical engineering student is at the forefront of transport change.

18 Free flow

12 The ultimate trip

20 King of the waves

14 Mark Glover

22 Gadget giveaway

Pamela Melroy has been to space and is back to tell all.

Keeping the Underground running.

The latest technology keeps the traffic moving.

What’s happening out at sea with ship design.

An Asus EEE PC 4GB is there to be won.

 Editor: Michelle Manning-Wareham  Managing Editor: Dermot Watson  Designer: Kathleen Rayfield  Sub editor: Francis Andrews Science Worlds is published by Educate Ltd, 91-93 Southwark Street, London SE1 OHX, 020 7902 1200. The opinions in the articles are those of the individual writers and not necessarily those of Educate Ltd or any associated personnel. Educate Ltd, the Editor and Publishers of Science Worlds do not necessarily agree with the views expressed in this publication and do not accept responsibility for any of the personal opinions therein. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic and mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without prior permission of Educate Ltd. The paper used for Science Worlds is made from sustainable wood pulp. To register for free copies of Science Worlds, please logon to For advertising information contact Educate 020 7902 1200

3 03.indd 3

25/03/2008 17:02:14



worlds SPRING 2008


BIG BROTHER Getting under the skin of biometric identification


New beginnings for Science Worlds


ver the next few months we’ll be introducing to the type of networking tools you’re using right now on Bebo and Myspace. You’ll be able to join (and create) groups of people just like you to discuss exams, homework, courses, universities, jobs, CVs, companies - and any hot topics you fancy - with our new walls, blogs, forums and messaging tools. There will still be all the news and

Will we soon be holidaying on the moon?

01 SW1.indd 1

25/03/2008 14:26:41

interviews to keep you up to date, but you’ll also be able to talk to others who are studying the same subjects as you, or find out what it’s really like working in science, engineering and technology from people actually in a job. Plus, it will be a great way to keep in touch with your friends, fellow students or work mates.

for your ‘new look’ site and magazine - so will become and the magazine will be renamed bescenta. So look out for the beginning of great new things - and make sure you and your friends are the first to belong to the site created for people just like you.

Moving on up

bescenta and, the beginnings of an even more beautiful relationship.

But we’re not just changing the site. We thought a new name was needed

Ask the expert If you have a question that only an expert can answer, then why not talk to us. Even better, if it’s published you could win Amazon vouchers. John Pendrey from the Isle of Barra in Scotland asked this month’s winning question.

“Why do wider tyres have more grip?” “My school physics model says that friction depends only on the type of surface and load.” Expert, Dr. James Balkwill, a Motorsports Engineering Lecturer from Oxford Brookes University in the UK, provided an answer: “Yes indeed, we are told that frictional forces depend only on the coefficient of friction and the vertical load - it isn't true. It’s not a bad approximation for smooth stiff surfaces but tyres are

neither of these things. The way a tyre generates grip depends primarily on two mechanisms. The first is the mechanical purchase gained as the tyre adopts the shape of the road. On a fine scale this features lots of undulations from the aggregate in the road. The tyre moulds itself over these and engages with them much like a cog in rack and pinion. This effect increases with increasing contact patch area but trails off as the contact patch gets very big. The second mechanism is that the rubber actually

chemically bonds to the road surface even when the tyre is rolling along quickly. The chemical bond is very strong and the larger the area, the greater the amount of bonding that can happen and so the more grip. In this way rubber tyres and road surfaces are the highest friction pair of materials you’re ever likely to meet. Most materials have a coefficient of friction between nearly zero and around 0.7. Rubber-road values can be as high as four for a Formula 1 car!”

4 4-5.indd_subbed.indd 4

25/03/2008 17:00:48


On the right track Ian Pearson, Minister of State for Science and Innovation, gives us the lowdown on the wonderful world of transport and the exciting part you could play


ransport is an intrinsic part of modern life in the UK. Trains and buses take us to and from work and school. Trucks transport goods from factories to buyers. Cars give us the freedom to go from A to B.

The problem

Yet these vehicles are also responsible for increased traffic congestion, using declining reserves of oil and their carbon dioxide emissions contribute towards climate change. Finding solutions to these issues will be one of the biggest challenges the UK, and the world, will face in the 21st century. But I believe this is also a massive opportunity for the UK. Developing new types of vehicles that run on alternative fuel sources represent an exciting challenge for science students, researchers and companies in sectors as diverse as science, engineering, manufacturing and agriculture. In fact, there is a real chance that the scientist who makes a breakthrough discovery in this area - for example, by discovering how to produce hydrogen cheaply and efficiently to power cars could be studying science in a UK university or a secondary school right now. They might even be reading this very article. So, now is an exciting time to get involved in science, whether that be studying science in school or at university, or aspiring to a career in a related area. Some of the interesting work today’s scientists are doing includes research that

could result in a new generation of lowcarbon vehicles appearing on our roads within five to seven years. With vehicles responsible for 20 per cent of the carbon we produce, this is an area in which we can make a real impact. The Governmentfunded Technology Strategy Board involves British scientists at companies and universities across the UK working to take such vehicles from concept to reality.

Cleaner and greener

There is increasing demand from car, van and lorry buyers for vehicles that are less polluting, and the auto industry in the UK has been given tough carbon emission targets by the European Union. By investing in this research both the UK companies and the Government aim to speed up the introduction of low carbon vehicles onto our roads. It is not just in the UK that there is demand for low carbon transport. Pollution from vehicles is a global problem and if British scientists and innovators can develop the right technology – and do it quickly – then companies in the UK will be able to benefit from growing international demand for low carbon vehicles. Another example of Government and British companies working together to solve the challenge of sustainable transport is the new Energy Technologies Institute. The Institute’s aim is to accelerate research into reliable, cost-effective, lowcarbon energy technology. To achieve this the Government is prepared to commit up to £550m and with industry matching this figure there is the potential for £1.1 billion

to spend in this area in the next decade. Some of the world’s biggest energy and engineering companies are already involved in this unique venture including BP, Caterpillar, EDF Energy, E.ON UK, RollsRoyce and Shell. The Government also recognises what graduates can offer business. That’s why we have committed to doubling the number of Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) available. KTPs are about getting more highly qualified science and technology graduates working with businesses to develop new products and new ways of working. Businesses benefit from working with a graduate who has new ideas and solutions to problems, while for graduates it’s a great way to kick start their career by gaining invaluable business experience.

Be creative and innovate

Science and innovation has always been and remains one of the UK’s driving forces. So much so that since 2000-01 the Government has increased the science budget to over £3 billion and recently committed to increasing spending further to £4 billion in 2010-11. What this means is good news for those of you considering a career in science, engineering, maths or technology-related areas. With both Government and business investing in new technologies for the 21st century, now is the time to start thinking about getting involved. After all, the skills you learn today could one day be used in the breakthrough of tomorrow. Ian Pearson

5 4-5.indd_subbed.indd 5

25/03/2008 17:01:33


The right formula With near endless budgets and the constant pursuit of faster lap times, is the adrenalin fuelled world of Formula 1 the ultimate dream job for automotive engineers? We spoke to KATRIONA JONES, a composite design engineer for Williams, to find out more

Name: Katriona Jones College/University background: Oxford Brookes University Course: Automotive Engineering Age: 25 From the outside, Formula 1 looks like one of the most glamorous sports in the world. Does it feel glamorous from the inside? No, not at all! We have black-tie ‘dos’ at Christmas, but that's about as glamorous as it gets. We try to have social events (curry nights,

trips to the pub, etc.) as often as possible as it does improve the working relationships between people, but they're certainly not glamorous occasions.

advantage. Since I was a bit of a novelty, people would go out of their way to speak to me, to help me and to get to know me.

Are there many women involved in Formula 1 engineering? Is it changing?

What was the biggest shock when you left college and started working in the ‘real world’?

There are a lot more women involved now than there were when I first started working about seven years ago. It is still very much a male dominated environment, and I think any women wanting to work in F1 shouldn't expect that to change any time soon. However, I never encountered any problems being the only girl. If anything, I think it sometimes worked to my

The biggest shock was probably the hours. In F1, the hours can be very long, especially during the winter as preparation for the new season comes to a climax.

What’s the best thing about the job you do? The thing I like most about what I do is the speed with which designs can be realised. From conception to having a component on a car in a

6 6-7.inddF.indd 6

28/03/2008 17:03:54



race can take just a matter of weeks. There are really very few other engineering industries that can realise those sorts of rapid scheduling possibilities.

Do you think that working with ‘civilian’ (i.e. road) cars would be boring by comparison? I think working on road cars would offer different challenges. Cost reduction and design consideration for mass production would be of greater importance. In F1, strength and weight are generally more important. The production departments in F1 achieve amazing results from very complex designs that just would not be feasible in a mass production environment.

Is there anything coming out of Formula 1 that could have repercussions in the wider world Personally, I think one of the most exciting technologies currently used in F1 is the use of rapid prototyping. Technologies such as stereolithography and selective laser sintering have evolved a great deal in recent years. Once the materials for these processes are improved, the rapid manufacturing of metal or composite semi-structural components is a real possibility. Also, the use of 3D printing has wider potential for the domestic market. In the future, it could be possible to go online at home and download a file onto your 3D printer which could build you a new mobile

phone case, toys, cutlery, etc. Also, with the development of Computer Aided Design (CAD) packages, it could be possible for children to design their own toys and then manufacture them using the 3D printer. This would no doubt lead to a greater level of engineering/design skill in future generations.

Where would you like to be in ten years time? I hope to still be working in F1, possibly focussing more on the research and development side of the industry. Also, developing new materials and processes that can reduce the weight of components and the lead time required to produce them.

To find out more visit

7 6-7.inddF.indd 7

28/03/2008 17:04:45

airport security

From e-b, the new world of biometrics Security concerns have given birth to a whole new world of biometric identification technology. MICHELLE MANNING-WAREHAM investigates


he government now believes that our border security demands the need for biometric identification in the form of iris scans and fingerprints. Here, Michelle Manning-Wareham uncovers what they involve and how they may help to stop identity fraud. Gordon Brown thinks that biometric identification is a good idea. He is quoted as saying: “What we must ensure is that identity fraud is avoided, and the way to avoid identity fraud is to say that for passport information we will have the biometric support that is necessary." Currently, immigration officers working at UK ports are in the process of trialling biometric documents in examining second generation passports that adhere to the international standards determined by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Increased modernised intelligence for the e-Borders Programme “has given us a far greater confidence and certainty of the individual who is attempting to enter the country,” said Julie Gillis, the e-Borders Programme Director. Enhanced biological and biographical information about passengers will allow agencies

digital technology to identify individuals based on their unique physical and biological characteristics, such as fingerprints or iris patterns. By collating biometric information from the British public when they apply for a new passport, it will allow the agencies to stop people entering the country who are known security risks. The uptake of this new initiative has proved seamless. “With IRIS we have over 130,000 people enrolled on the system using the automated gates and we’ve had over 600,000 crossing. It is now very much a part of business as usual,” said Gillis.

All in the eyes The Iris Recognition Immigration System (IRIS) is a fast, new and secure way to clear immigration. Iris recognition is a method of recognising someone by the uniqueness of their iris. The system takes a photograph of the iris pattern and converts it to a digital code that compares it against other such codes stored in a secure database. Those enlisted into the scheme can enter the United Kingdom through automated barriers after looking into an iris recognition camera. Enrolment points

Biometrics is the science of using digital technology to identify individuals based on their unique physical and biological characteristics operating at the ports here and around the world to work more efficiently in maintaining the UK’s border integrity, target those who have no right to be in the UK and help with the fight against terrorists and criminals. Biometrics is the science of using

are open at airports in London, Manchester and Birmingham. To apply, you must visit one of the enrolment rooms in person. There is no application form to fill in. Gillis explained why the Home Office is happy with the technology: “We are in the process of doing a wider evaluation of the

whole IRIS project, but at the moment, apart from occasional problems such as technology going down, the whole system for enrolling is a robust and secure one. It is [made up of ] an immigration officer who checks passport details and our watch list, so we are as confident as one can be in the identity of the person before they are allowed to use the iris system, to make sure there is no attempt to breach at the iris gates.

Bring in the forensic team The UK boasts of one of the best fingerprint and footwear forensics team in the world. Now the effectiveness of this identity tool has been extended to the point of entry at London’s Gatwick airport which started mid-September 2007 and is due to be competed in Spring 2008. Despite the threat from potential attempts to forge fingerprints for e-passports and Identity Cards, Gillis commented: “We understand that it’s possible to forge a fingerprint but we think the key issue here is how good that forgery needs to be.” Passengers that arrive at Gatwick’s North Terminal are having their fingerprints recorded as part of the trial named the BIODEV II project. The trial will serve as a fingerprint catchment exercise to compare the biometric data with the fingerprints and photographs of passengers presenting biometric visas in the UK but issued in Freetown and Sierra Leone – anyone found to be entering the UK illegally will be refused entry. This initiative builds on the Border and Immigration Agency’s (BIA) target to check biometrics from all non-European

8 8-9.inddF.indd 8

25/03/2008 13:16:33

airport security

Economic Area non-visa nationals at the UK arrivals control by 2011. Gillis says: “A big one from our side is the BIODEV II trial which provides us with the means of verifying the identification of the individual by checking the fingerprint data at the primary arrivals control against that provided earlier at time of visa application (when the visa was applied for at British Diplomatic post overseas). So far the results are promising in that they are expected. The passengers

display on departure at Gatwick’s North Terminal. Motorola is currently in the process of establishing similar systems in European countries such as Spain, Portugal, Austria and Luxembourg.

Passports and chips When the first electronic passport was rolled out in October 2007, it was marked as a great success by MPs on the public accounts committee who said it was an "excellent example of successful project

The e-passport is the first official British paper document to incorporate an electronic chip storing biological data and a digital facial image of the holder are matched with those who applied for the visa and we’re getting a good response from the passengers themselves when asked to provide their fingerprints. They are all comfortable with what we want to achieve.” Motorola has provided the Identity Management solution to the Border and Immigration Agency to manage and trial BIODEV II. The system managed the biometric data capture at the consular post in Sierra Leone, as selected by the Border and Immigration Agency. The data is then matched with the biometric data that passengers must

management and procurement." The e-passport is the first official British paper document to incorporate an electronic chip. It includes security features which make it hard to forge and prevent unauthorised reading of the chip. The e-Border programme will become fully functional over the next two years. Gillis says: “In the longer term, we will be rolling out passport readers and fingerprint readers at all the ports around the UK, so when you pass through control and provide your passport, these readers will be able to read a second generation passport which has your fingerprints in

them. They will be able to authenticate, first of all, if that passport is a valid second generation passport. It will then be able to read the fingerprints from the passport and compare it to the fingerprints the individuals will give at controls, and verify that they are the rightful holder.”

The biometric future Iris scans and fingerprint schemes are a drop in the ocean of the entire range of biometric proposals currently being trialled for the UK. For instance, a small scale ‘proof of concept’ trial involving Airline Liaison Officers located overseas is seeing them equipped with mobile QuickCheck machines to open the chip in ICAO compliant e-travel documents and view the details contained within them. And another trial is called MiSense – which is a system that uses a single journey use of a “disposable” biometric (single fingerprint) captured at check-in and used as an identifier at ticket presentation (security) and at aircraft boarding. The issue is not only one for the UK. As the US tightens its borders, we must comply with their demands for biometric data to be allowed to visit the country. The future, it seems, is biometric.

9 8-9.inddF.indd 9

25/03/2008 13:16:45



A great academic background combined with industrial experience is a sure-fire way of star


ith the University of Bath’s industry ties to Airbus, Rolls Royce and Motorola, any mechanical engineering student at the school is at the forefront of transport change. Here, Michelle Manning-Wareham speaks to Dr Michael Carley, a University of Bath Mechanical Engineering degree lecturer, to find out more.

What can an undergraduate expect if they choose to study for a mechanical engineering degree? We give them the basic sciences that they need to work in engineering: so solid mechanics, fluid mechanics, thermodynamics and also the design and the applied skills that they would need to be able to use in real engineering. [We teach] a lot about the applications of the different principles used in engineering: the way you design something and the way you make something. Over the course you build up from doing quite small projects (often on your own) up to quite large, substantial group projects. You are working both on the technical design of things and also the business side of it, so you are not just coming up with smart ideas, you have to be able to sell what you’re doing. You must be able to say it is going to cost something: it is going to cost this much to run it, to last this long, it’s going to generate these emissions. Essentially it's a combination of the hard science, and the things you need to know to apply that science; to design and be able to communicate with all the people involved. This is all part of the whole process of making and producing and selling something.

Are undergraduate students involved in much ‘hands-on’ work? If so, what does the degree see them do? The most hands-on element of it is laboratory work where you’re testing things, which is an important part of real engineering practice. After you’ve made something you have to ask yourself does this actually do what it’s supposed to do: how does it perform? That is a substantial part of the final year of the degree where you’ll often do detailed experiments.

Also, engineering graduates tend to get graduate jobs - the jobs they tend to have really do use the degree.

How has the course changed in line with changes in the transport industry? We have elements of the course which is exactly about energy and the environment: how you use your energy, how you can reduce your use of energy and its effect on the environment. Because we

What are the employment prospects like for those who have attained a mechanical engineering degree? They are very good in terms of percentages. The surveys are done six months after graduation and the typical figures will be around 70 per cent in employment and the rest of the 20 or so per cent are in further training – they have gone on to do a masters or specialise in something. The remaining ten per cent or so are just not available for employment when the survey was done; they are travelling the world or something like that. The number of people who are genuinely unemployed after six months after graduation is something like two or three per cent - it is a very low figure.

have close links with industry for things like setting up design projects, the new environment regulations, where you have to reduce your emissions and make better use of your materials and so on, is all coming into the design projects, so it’s actually an important part of what we do. We’re always up to date with the current requirements of industry.

Does the University of Bath have any links to the industry? We actually use our links quite a bit.

10 10-11.inddF.indd 10

28/03/2008 16:59:50



y of starting a great career

Obviously, for aerospace [studies] we have Rolls Royce and Airbus in Bristol. We work very closely with them on our aerospace design project. Airbus would typically set a design project. They’d say “we would like you to design this or see how that works out,” and the kinds of projects we’re getting from them includes designing aircraft for low cost airlines, which is an interesting problem for the

The University of Bath is noted for their world class testing facilities. Can you describe what happens there and how students are involved? The facilities are mainly research facilities so they’re used for our own research. They are made available to industry when they need things tested. Students would be involved in a final year research project where the kinds of projects set are connected to the work we’re doing. So it would be a small part of a bigger project we’re working on – they’re doing real testing because we want some results on the equipment that’s available. The usual way to have

What sort of character traits are you looking for in prospective students? We look for people who are academically good but particularly good at maths because it is a mathematical course. But in terms of character, rather than academic ability, I’d say you’d have to be fairly persistent because you have to put in time. It helps if you’ve learned to use your time well and be organised: that makes things easier in the long term. Inquisitiveness, curiosity and a certain amount of creativity, it is a creative field. You’re not a scientist trying to understand how the world works: you are seeing how it works and using that to make something new.

What do you think of the travel industry today and what do your graduates have to be prepared for? students xxxxxxx involved on this xxxxxxxxxxxxx equipment is to integrate them into the work we’re doing on it. industry. We also have good links with companies in Swindon as there are quite a few major industries around there. We have done some work for Motorola in the past and people like that. We use our links with the industry quite well. We have people who come in from those industries to supervise projects, so we have a lot of real industrial experience available to help students and teach them how things are done in the actual industry that you can’t get from pure academics.

What is the programme’s ultimate aim for its graduates? Ideally what we want are graduates coming out that are educated rather than trained because engineering changes so fast. You could be working as an engineer for 40 or 50 years after you graduate. You need to be adaptable and be able to learn new things as you go along, so you’re able to keep working in real industry. So really our aim is to have graduates who know what they’re doing rather than have a systemised and mechanistic way of doing things. They can adapt to new developments and continue to contribute all the way through their lives.

I think probably what graduates really need to keep an eye on is world politics, because at the moment so much is going to depend on the price of oil. Travel and transport industries are starting to take on partly the effects of oil prices. And graduates will have to be prepared for the environmental problems that are related to aviation and other forms of transport. Graduates now have to be prepared for possible rapid change and there may well be new developments in the next few years that will force a fundamental rethink of the way that transport happens, the way goods are transported, the way people travel, so graduates now will have to be prepared for these issue. Find out more at mech-eng/.

11 10-11.inddF.indd 11

28/03/2008 17:00:13


The ultimate trip We always know that an engineering or science qualification could take you places, but how about outer space?


hink of the most exotic trip you can. Would it be India? Thailand? Maybe South America? What about outer space? Well, Pamela Melroy has been there, and now she’s back to tell us all about it. After a degree in physics and astronomy she followed with a masters in Earth & Planetary Sciences. Pamela then headed for the dream job to end all dream jobs: an astronaut. Here, Dermot Watson speaks to Pam about physics, space tourism, and dancing without gravity.

As commander of a mission to the International Space Station, you’ve done the job to end all jobs. To get there, it must have been a long, long career journey. What inspired you to start? What inspired me more than anything was astronomy. I was interested in the planets and galaxies; those types of things that are very inspiring when you’re eight or nine years old. But I was also really interested in the space programme. It can be difficult when you’re trying to make a choice about when to study something difficult like science or maths because what you have to see is the end outcome. The way to do the most exciting exploration – both on and off Earth – is to have that science or maths experience. If you can have the vision for that end job – being an engineer or scientist – then it’s easier to make your way through school. People have difficulty comprehending what an engineer or scientist actually does on a daily basis, yet we have all these

examples of improved trains, planes and automobiles around us. NASA is just the ultimate extension of that technology, but it’s actually all there around us.

The International Space Station (ISS) is a very big project, both in physical scale and in concept. Can you explain why you think it’s necessary? The simplest explanation goes all the way back to the first science class that you ever took. One of the first things that’s taught when you do an experiment is that you change one variable at a time. You test something then you change one thing: it could be a chemical level or temperature. In space, we can change the most awesome variable of all, which is gravity. It’s the ultimate variable. Every experiment that has been performed on Earth, you can re-perform that in space and learn a lot about the fundamental workings of the universe. The human body is the most obvious one: it’s extraordinary to discover where gravity is critical as a process in the body and where it isn’t, and we’re just beginning to explore that. We can understand what the processes are so we can better design treatments and medications to take care of life on Earth.

One of the points I’ve heard you mention about the ISS is that it’s based on international collaboration, not international competition. How important do you think that is? I think that it’s enormous. The capacity for us to achieve great things is made greater

with international cooperation. Each country brings unique cultural perspectives and capabilities. Countries have centres and disciplines that are known internationally, so by bringing in all those skills you have much higher quality in the product. If you think of the magnitude of what it means to go and visit another planet – not just our Moon, which is three days away – but Mars which is six to eight months away, with current technology, then that is a challenge for the next generation of students throughout the whole world.

Considering how expensive space exploration is, and that there isn’t always an obvious commercial benefit, do you think that space exploration is worth it for the knowledge alone? Absolutely. You have to look at the money that you put into science within a diversified approach. Treat it as a business proposition. You would never put all of your financial assets into a single asset class, you just don’t do that. The same thing is true of the space programme. Satellites are very important to invest in. [But] it’s as important to invest in pure research where you don’t know what the outcome will be. An example would be 100 years ago understanding the nature of the atom. If you hadn’t done that, nobody could have invented a laser which is incorporated into every aspect of our lives. You have to have industrial and basic research. You have to recognise that some will overreach and some will be passed over, but we continue to move forward.

12 12-13 .inddF.indd 12

28/03/2008 17:02:19


Do you think that space tourism will be a ‘civilian’ possibility in our lifetimes?

Your field, and in science in general, has traditionally been seen as a male area. As a woman, how do you feel about this?

Yes, technically it already is. If you pay the Russians enough you can get a ride on their spacecraft. Typically, they do prefer to have people with a technical background, but everything is new and it’s a wide open field.

I think that the only way that we are going to get smarter about going into space is by doing it, so I am all in favour of every effort being made by private industry and governments to send humans into space. One concern that I do have is a lack of awareness of the danger. People think ‘how dangerous the space shuttle is’ because we’ve had two accidents in 120 missions. The reality is that if you look at satellite launches, we have an extremely high success rate, so we’re very careful. It’s terrible that only a small group of people can share this mindblowing experience of seeing the Earth from space. We think it's an incredible thing and we’d like to share it.

Has the experience of going to space changed you as a person? Everyone has a different personal experience in space, but all of us have had many moments of awe among the huge amounts of busy-ness that we experience. Space is a bit like ‘work, work, work, work, work’ - look out the window - then ‘wow’

In my experience the academic environment is one of the most rigid environments. There is an

then ‘back to work’. For the space station crew members that live up there for six months or so, they can have a much calmer pace. They can spend an entire revolution around the Earth just looking out the window. I think you don’t bring anything back to Earth that you don’t already have inside you, but the awareness of looking at the Earth and seeing that everything that you know and love is so small, and you look out the other windows at the vast blackness of space. It does give you a very strong sense of wanting to protect the Earth, and a connection with the environment and the universe. I think it’s one of the most emotional things that a human can do is to go into space.

In terms of jobs that people aspire to, yours ranks way up there. But, is there anything about it that isn’t so great? I think that in every job you have to understand that there are administrative responsibilities and the grind of being in a large organisation. Coming from the air force, none of that has ever bothered me. So long as you’re inspired by your job the small things roll off you.

You have an interest in jazz and tap dancing; did you have any opportunities to indulge this during a mission? When I was in space I undertook to see if it was possible to dance in microgravity, and there are some real challenges! Holding yourself steady without having a floor is a little difficult.

expectation out there that girls are not as good at maths and science which is demonstrably not true. So, in my mind the bigger issue is making women feel welcome. I think young women have been told that it’s difficult to have children and work, but people do it all the time. It’s more of a cultural issue than a real issue. I think it’s perfectly achievable to do both.

Having been a space commander, what can you possibly do next? That’s the million dollar question for an astronaut as we understand that there’s nothing that competes with this. But, our world offers many challenges and for me leadership is a new challenge. The most infinite and varied thing in the universe is the human heart and personality, and so for me the whole world stretches out as a set of challenges as a leader. No matter what I’m doing in ten years I hope to be leading a team.

13 12-13 .inddF.indd 13

28/03/2008 17:02:46


All aboard! Keeping London's tube system running smoothly is a massive undertaking. Sounds like a job for a performance engineer, so meet MARK GLOVER from Metronet Name: Mark Glover College/University: University of Hull Course: Mechanical Engineering followed by Metronet Monitored Professional Development Scheme (MPDS) Age: 26 Mark Glover works for Metronet Rail as a performance engineer. Recently chartered through The Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMeche), Mark is now central to the smooth running of Metronet’s notoriously busy Metropolitan Line in London.

What was moving from academia to the world of work like? Moving from Hull – which is a nice, comfortable university environment – to living in the centre of London was terrifying. In terms of work, the academic content is easier than at university, but there’s a lot more to learn in terms of the management and people side of things: even things like using Excel and using email as a regular tool rather than as a novelty for annoying your mates.

What exactly is a performance engineer? I’m responsible for developing our reliability workplan. This is what we use to define reliability targets at the end of the financial year. I work out which projects we can develop, which will help us deliver the reliability that we want, and then carry out the mechanical work myself.

The measurement system developed for Metronet by Laser Rail

14 14-15 Metronet.indd 14

25/03/2008 11:48:51


A damaged C-stock Tube door is repaired with a colour-matched protective film

Images: Metronet

Is the rail industry becoming more environmentally aware? There’s a lot of work going into thinking about where weight can be reduced to reduce fuel consumption and the amount of metal used. There are also little things, like the whole of the underground network has now got newspaper recycling. It may sound like a relatively small thing, but you’re talking in terms of hundreds of thousands of newspapers every day being recycled instead of being sent to landfill.

What do you feel is the best thing about your job? Being able to ride out on the network and actually see and hear my improvements to the service. When I was going home the other day I noticed a carriage I had been working on and I could hear that the coupling works nicely now.

And what’s the worst thing? Data entry! All the incidents that we

Fitting seats to a refurbished District line train get in terms of reliability, someone has to put it into a database…and that’s me.

Are you seeing more female engineers coming through to work in the rail industry? It’s still predominantly male, but in the training group I came through, for example, there were three or four out of

18 that were women. For them it didn’t feel like a barrier, and one of them has been one of the section track and signals managers for the last couple of years.

Where will you be in 10 years time? I want to be the engineering manager on a fleet.

15 14-15 Metronet.indd 15

25/03/2008 16:38:39


Back to the future Marty McFly’s car might be able to get you to the future, but how about a car that’s already there? MICHELLE MANNING-WAREHAM looks at the best in-car technology that’s set to make the driving experience decisive, easy and safe

The importance of SatNav According to James Beechinor-Collins of, satellite navigation technology is the most revolutionary in-car experience: “Satnav has to be the most revolutionary, primarily for its ease of use but also for its proliferation over the last couple of years. As the technology has gained popularity, prices have dropped which has resulted in greater popularity and further price cuts. No other in-car technology has been so prolific in such a short space of time.” Satnav today could take you up Everest and down again, providing you had the associated map, of course. Toshiba has released the super-tough Satnav hard disc drive (HDD), leaving other models in its wake with the industry’s largest commercially available capacity. Toshiba Satnav users are able to take cars ‘off-the-road’ and high into mountain ranges due to the cushion of air inside the Satnav systems that neutralises the changes in atmospheric pressure caused by a high altitude. Recently, alongside map data, the need to store entertainment information for the enjoyment of back seat passengers is

can become more than a map. BeechinorCollins explained: “There are also some interesting technology benefits which are almost by-products of the handheld device (as opposed to built-in) such as the ability to work with your phone using

Bluetooth - turning the Satnav into a hands-free kit.” Once a TomTom Go 720, for example, is paired to a phone, just tapping the touch-sensitive screen when a call comes in will answer the call, so no need to take your eyes off the road.”

A 2008 Nissan Fuga is fitted with a radar unit on its front bumper that monitors the distance to the next car in front. increasing, motivating the demand for a higher capacity HDD. The integration of HDD into car navigation systems is becoming a popular choice, especially in Japan, due to the usability, fast screen refresh and the ability to store extra data such as music, films and games. Later editions of TomTom, for example,

Safety first Safety technology has taken a giant step onto the market with the release of a rearview camera kit for the car and a car that pretty much drives itself. According to Beechinor-Collins, however, safety technology has long been a product for the most high-end cars: “Safety

technology has also increased but has taken much longer to become a massmarket [regular]. “We've seen the likes of ABS [Anti-lock Braking System] for a long time in highend cars, but there are still a number of models available on the market that don’t have that as standard, despite its proven ability to save lives.” Nissan’s 2008 Fuga model appeared in Japan late last year with two safety aids installed – Nissan’s Intelligent Cruise Control and Distance Control Assist (Intelligence Pedal). A 2008 Fuga is fitted with a radar unit on its front bumper that monitors the distance to the next car in front to assist with breaking speed. Preset parameters monitor the gap between the two cars, and if it is too narrow, it causes the Distance Control Assist to activate the brakes automatically. Intelligent Cruise Control (ICC) allows a driver to take the foot off the pedal like conventional CC systems, but incorporates a safety feature that predicts bends and slows down in kind, speeding up when back on a stretch of road. For a welcome relief for those with stiff necks, Panasonic Japan has released a stand-alone rear-view camera and 3.5 inch monitor rig to be set up in front of you to view the rear area; activated when the driver slips into reverse gear. Designed as a cost effective tool and the first of its kind on the market, the 3.5 inch monitor offers a 320 x 240 resolution with one input terminal for the camera and another for the monitor. The rear view camera is a 0.25 inch colour CCD camera and has 250,000 effective pixels with 134° (horizontal) and 103° (vertical) detection angles.

16 16-17.inddF.indd 16

25/03/2008 16:32:51

IN-CAR TECHNOLOGY xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

It knows how you're feeling The Panasonic Rear View Monitor System (GP-PD107) hit the shelves in Japan on 17 December, 2007. A fatigue sensing technology project by the Imperial College London’s Department of Computing has been awarded funding to continue research

(cruise control, self drive, automatic gearboxes) to technology which alerts us to danger (night-vision technology in BMW and Mercedes) and lane-warning devices (such as that in the Citroen). Without these technologies we'd either need to have other people in the car so we could share the driving, or have fewer

"Call Paris!" You may command from a car fully integrated with the latest Microsoft in-car communication and entertainment system. into new technologies that analyse human behaviour and detect fatigue. By developing new computer vision and signal processing technology that can automatically analyse human behaviour from facial expressions, body movements and audio cues (such as laughter), the technology could be used to detect fatigue in drivers and recognise aggressive behaviour. Why do we need to develop such technology to increase our safety on the roads? Beechinor-Collins said: “Roads are getting ever busier and as drivers we're probably spending more time in our cars. This leads to one of the biggest threats to road safety: driving whilst tired. More technology is being developed to ease and aid this, from increased comfort

cars on the road so we could get where we want in the time that we want, and spend less time in the car.”

Microsoft’s foray into the car “Call Paris!” you may command from a car fully integrated with the latest Microsoft in-car communication and entertainment system. Ford Sync has undergone the Microsoft treatment and is designed to synchronise with your mobile, portable music player and control them via personalised voice commands. Existing as an extra control on the steering wheel, it is built around a Microsoft operating system with an ARM 11 processor, 256MB of memory, 64MB of RAM with USB and Bluetooth connectivity. And as UK laws are demanding the use of

a hands-free kit when talking on a mobile whilst driving, this new release goes further than that request by also accessing the mobile’s address book via voice command. This is allowed through its Bluetooth protocol stack software in conjunction with the firmware running on BlueCore4-ROM silicon. The system is also designed to adapt to future devices that may lend themselves to being needed in the car as the Ford Sync has a system that can be upgraded to support all gadgets to be released in the future. The technology will be integrated into twelve Ford models in 2008 for the UK and be made available as a standard in nearly every Ford, Lincoln and Mercury in the US by the end of the year.

The future is now Each year some pretty fantastic technology is integrated into cars. And as many of us have grown up with the idea of flying cars, we do have some pretty high standards in our ideas of what future in-car technology should bring. But, as we’ve seen a car that pretty much drives itself, and a car that operates on voice commands, you could be right to say, the future is now.

17 16-17.inddF.indd 17

25/03/2008 16:33:16

21st century traffic management

Free flow We’ve all experienced that sinking feeling as traffic grinds to a halt and all hopes of arriving on time slowly evaporate. Thankfully, some of the latest technology may help keep these woes at bay, says Science Worlds reporter Alex Cheung


ntil recently, road users had few options but to tune in to a local radio station to listen to traffic updates. Mobile communications have, however, revolutionised the world of traveller information. Drivers can now receive news of delays on their phones, or check traffic maps online before they even get into their cars. One of the most sophisticated systems to date is a US service called Beat the Traffic, which provides daily and even seven-day traffic forecasts. These predictions take into account real time information recorded by thousands of sensors, but also historical data, road works, major sporting events and weather forecasts in order to estimate driving conditions. In years to come, satellite navigation systems could also bring you continual updates on the best route to take according to reported traffic conditions.

Guide us A significant difference between travel information five years ago and today is the degree of guidance provided. ”Local radio stations are in the habit of broadcasting factual information about occurrence of incidents such as breakdowns and the resulting congestion, leaving it to the recipient of the information to decide how to respond,” says Ben Heydecker, Professor of Transport Studies at University College London. Traffic services can now go one step further and supply drivers with personalised advice on which roads to follow, or even the best time to leave work to ensure a smooth journey home. It is possible, for example, to input the routes you take regularly online and be updated by a text message the moment such troubles arise.

Even if they are taking the same route, different road users may favour different types of information. “One user might prefer fewer interruptions even if it means travelling a little further or a little longer. Others might want the quickest travel time, even if it means some stop-go traffic,” explains Heydecker. The challenge for traffic information providers will therefore be to cater to these varying tastes. Their first priority, however, is to gather up-to-the-minute information on traffic conditions. Traffic sensors, remote controlled cameras and other gadgets are fundamental to keeping drivers aware of

to keep an eye on traffic. Heydecker explains: “We can compare the speeds observed with speeds that we would expect, and if the former are low, we might suspect there is an incident and perhaps have a look with a remote controlled camera.” Just because you haven’t bought the gadgets yourself doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from the latest technology. Traffic authorities have a variety of systems in place to ease congestion on major roads. But in order to understand how congestion can be reduced, it helps to make sense of how it appears on roads in the first place.

"If we can pass on the responsibility for paying charges to our cars, then why not go the extra mile and hand over the steering wheel?" problems ahead. A number of different systems can be used to keep tabs on traffic conditions using data you are probably emitting right now from your mobile phone. When mobile phones search for reception, they send out an electrical signal known as a ‘ping’ which is picked up by nearby phone masts. New technology enables the location and speed of phones to be recorded and mapped. This information can then be used to give users up to date information on driving conditions. Obviously, not all drivers own a phone, or have it switched on permanently, and cars might easily contain more than one phone, all of which could distort data. It can nonetheless give a good indication of when things are getting sticky and could be teamed up with other systems

Running at capacity “The simple reason is that for some period of time the arrival rate exceeds the capacity of a road. That might be because of an incident that’s reduced capacity or it might be because of some short term increase in arrival rate,” says Heydecker. Whatever the cause, once a dense flow of vehicles is established, traffic jams can quickly develop. On a saturated road, the slightest hold up - for example, one driver braking unexpectedly - can send a shockwave of delay backwards. A similar process can occur on a busy pedestrian street: once the crowd is dense enough, the pace of pedestrians invariably slows down to a dawdle as people pause to gaze into shop windows or tie their shoelaces. As small delays amplify and accumulate, road traffic eventually lurches to a halt. Waiting at traffic lights doesn’t make

18 18-19.inddF.indd 18

25/03/2008 16:36:43

21st Century traffic management

matters any better, but often everything possible is being done to get things moving again.

Intelligent traffic lights The world’s first traffic lights were installed in London in 1868 by railway engineer J.P. Knight. Things have come a long way since then and ‘intelligent’ traffic lights are now widespread, regulating the flow of vehicles in reaction to current conditions. This could mean for example that if a large influx of vehicles is detected at the entrance of a road, lights at the other end could be modified to allow more vehicles out and reduce congestion. Real time traffic management is not a simple task. “If you think about a section of road, say 100 metres long, the traffic will travel along that at roughly 10 metres per second. If we see traffic coming into a section of road then we will be able to estimate the flow at the exit ten seconds into the future, which frankly is not very long,” notes Heydecker. One proposed solution to cut down on congestion is to charge road users. But queuing to pay at toll booths could also waste precious time. Electronic devices might provide the answer, allowing regular users to pay their dues without even having to slow down. At the Dartmouth river crossing, such a system is

already in place and similar schemes may soon be widespread. “Congestion charging in London is done by video reading of number plates but in the future we expect that to be done by direct electronic communication. We see this as being an area of strong and very rapid development,” says Heydecker. If we can pass on the responsibility for paying charges to our cars, then why not go the extra mile and hand over the steering wheel? This is exactly what bus and commercial vehicle drivers on California’s Interstate 805 may be able to do in as little as three years’ time. The project aims to increase the freeway’s capacity by packing automated cars in as tightly as carriages on a train. Within a special lane, these robot vehicles can be programmed to travel quickly and safely with much smaller spaces separating them. Travelling along the new lane, they will be equipped with lane keeping sensors and adaptive cruise control to maintain a constant stream of traffic. For the moment, humans will still be needed to guide vehicles on and off the automated lane, but many argue that robots make more skilful and safer drivers than us and may well eventually replace us altogether. Although for the time being, teleportation remains confined to the world of science fiction, technology - perhaps even robots? - has the potential to take some of the pain out of your daily commute.

19 18-19.inddF.indd 19

25/03/2008 16:37:08


King of the waves The last few decades have seen a level of unprecedented progress in ship design. Not only are they quicker, but they’re greener and safer too. DERMOT WATSON spoke to eco-conscious sea-dog, naval architect Tristan Smith, to find out more Can you tell us a little bit about what you do? I’m employed by The Ministry of Defence as a naval architect, which means that I design ships. I’m currently a visiting research assistant at University College London where I do research into ship design and teach on some of their courses.

One of the projects that you’ve worked on has been ‘damage tolerant’ ship design. Can you explain what this means? There is a lot of debate in the maritime community at the moment on the back of environmental disasters. They have prompted a lot of design research to see if we could design ferries that weren’t so prone to capsizing if you had flooding. In more recent years, that’s extended because of oil tragedies such as with Exxon Valdez. My academic research is to see if we can mathematically model more accurately those situations. We [normally] completely ignore the damaged condition. We don’t assume that our ships will end up with a large hole [but] the only time a ship is in its intact position is when it’s a drawing on a screen. After a few years at sea they start to corrode. There’s nothing else to do but assume that they’re damaged, but we never even consider that when we do analysis and design.

Given all the possibilities, how do you go about calculating all that could go wrong? That’s the real problem, you can’t predict everything. But, because I work

for The Ministry of Defence, there’s quite a lot of design work we do already where we look at what can happen when you’re hit by a missile. We can apply a known damage template where [for example] we apply a hole 5 x 5 metres to a ship so we can analyse what would happen. Would it cause the ship to capsize or break in half? In a warship context it’s easy to anticipate what sort of hole you’re expecting because we can measure blast. From an oil tanker it’s so much harder because we only have so much data where ships have hit rocks, etc. But, we’ve put that data together in a large European project and have tried to describe what is the most likely shape of damage at a number of

That also means changing the design of your vessel. On bigger issues than just emissions, there are people who are trying to conceptually design carbon neutral ships which try and push the technology that we have to the limit. Wallenius Wilhelmsen shipping lines, for example, has come up with great ideas for container ships that have a minimal carbon footprint. The disposal side is massive as well. Every ship goes to sea for 30 to 40 years and then gets taken to pieces. Historically, what happened was that people used to sail ships to places like Pakistan and drive them up [aground]

"A lot of the core understanding of the physics of a ship at sea is completely applicable to many other fields" different levels. It’s not perfect, but it’s our best guess at what could happen based on what’s happened before. But disasters are exceptional circumstances.

Environmental concerns are now at the forefront of our minds when it comes to design. Has it had much impact on maritime design? Yes, there’s an enormous amount of legislation now around environmental standards. There are international marine institutes, like the International Maritime Organisation, who come up with specific standards as to emissions of nitrogen oxides that maritime engines are allowed to produce. Designers have to put in different diesel engines and gas turbines than they did 20 years ago because all of the equipment has to meet a new standard.

on the beach. People are now more responsible. There are enormous numbers of dangerous heavy metals on ships that need to be disposed of properly - they’re just one big chemical cocktail. So, there’s a lot of effort going into legislation and responsibility or ship owners so that they don’t park it on a beach and turn a blind eye.

Aircraft design has a notoriously long time between the design and implementation stage. Is it the same with maritime? The difference between the two industries is that before you put any part in the sky it has to go through so much testing. If it fails, there are very serious consequences. I think shipping is a less certified and less risky technology. There is a lot of emerging

20 20-21.inddF.indd 20

25/03/2008 11:55:25


technology that has come out in the last 10 to15 years which is really changing the way we operate and design. Propulsion is a good example. A lot of the core understanding of the physics of a ship at sea is completely applicable to many other fields, like building and bridge design. Previously we had a traditional diesel engine that drove a single shaft with a propeller on the end of it. Now we’re starting to put electric motors outside the hull and inside a pod. The pod itself can rotate, so we’ve got rid of rudders. Instead of having a diesel engine solidly attached to a shaft we have a diesel generator or a gas turbine generator which produces electricity which is then fed to the motor. That electricity supply is also useful for the rest of the shop for lighting, etc. It reduces the number of diesel generators that you might have on a ship. We’ve gone from having seven or eight different diesels to generate power and propulsion to three or four. That has a massive impact. You no longer have to have massive diesels sitting at the bottom of the ship to drive the shaft. You can have your engine anywhere on the ship as long as it’s attached to the motor by a cable. The other thing that’s happening in shipping is the fact that everyone wants to go faster and faster. So, we’re starting to design ships in aluminium and composites and much more exotic materials to reduce the weight. Propulsion technology is also helping. The gas turbine technology that has such massive impact on the air industry is only starting to become economically viable for ships. Now we have an increasing number of ships with gas turbines on-board rather than diesel engines. Gas turbines are obviously lighter and more power

doing phenomenally ground-breaking research that you can’t do in the air industry. If you work in the air industry you might work for a lot of your career on one small component of one plane that takes 40 or 50 years to get to maturity. If you’re designing ferries, you could be designing it one year and it could be built the next. As a result you

"Companies out there want leading-edge design. That involves doing phenomenally ground-breaking research" dense and that changes the type of ship you can design.

So, is now a good time to be involved in ship design? It’s a fantastic time. There are companies out there that want to buy leading-edge design. That involves

can have an impact on a lot of different designs and learn a lot from their evolution. Ships have been around for hundreds of years, so everyone assumes that we understand perfectly what the physical behaviour of a ship is. We don’t at all. But, there’s a lot of research happening

now because of computing power and investment. A lot of the core understanding of the physics of a ship at sea is completely applicable to many other fields, like building and bridge design.

So, all things considered, what’s the best thing about what you do for a living? Being able to look at a problem that no-one’s looked at before, and being able to make a contribution towards it.

Where are you likely to be doing in 10 years time? I would hope that my experience in research is being turned into practical results. Tristan Smith is a Noisemaker

21 20-21.inddF.indd 21

25/03/2008 11:56:13


Win an Asus EEE PC As ever, we're here to make sure that you're in with a chance to win some of the most desirable technology around


he buzz about the Asus EEE PC is that it could revolutionise computing as we know it, and now you could be in with a chance of winning one of these bad boys. This laptop, weighing in at less than a kilogramme, has no internal hard disk and no CD Drive, but with 512 MB of RAM, 4GB of storage; start-up within 12 seconds; shutdown in five; a seven inch display; three USB ports and a built-in wireless connection, it is a device that’s certainly turning heads. But that is not what sets this laptop apart from the rest. Everything you might want to use on the EEE is free. The laptop is based on Open Source applications, once the domain of tech experts alone. Applications include Skype, Firefox, Mozilla Mail and software from, which allows for the use of Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents. It can go old school for terminal mode users or it has an easy to use operating system with tabs labelled Internet, Work, Learn, Play, Settings and Favourites; but it can support Windows XP for the average user, if you so desire. This laptop is the ultimate in portable computing, because it is so light, you’d hardly know it’s there in your luggage. said, “the reviews are in, and the damn thing rules.” Win one for yourself It’s easy, just log on to competition for your chance to win. Good luck!

22 22-24 comp.inddF.indd 22

25/03/2008 11:59:03

I’m prepared A Napier education’s about taking the right route to the future. We’ll help you reach your potential. And we’ve got close links with business and industry, so you’ll be more than prepared for the world of work. In fact, we’ll give you an edge – whatever course you choose.

Engineering Look around you. Almost everything you can see will have been engineered by someone. The progress of the modern world depends on engineers and technologists. The days of hard-hatted men muttering about flanges are behind us – engineering shapes the way we live, work and interact.

Computing & Information Technology There’s no denying it – computing and IT makes the world go round. In every business, industry and sector, it’s the people who look after the IT infrastructure who keep businesses growing and succeeding. Forget technogeeks called Colin languishing in the basement, this is about big business and life changing technology.

Built Environment There’s no escaping the built environment – it’s where we work, rest and play. No wonder so many people feel passionately about it. Whether you specialise in building and architectural design, civil engineering and construction, property surveying, or transportation, a degree from us will help you shape the world – and because you’ll have some of the most sought after skills around, that means all four corners of it. Our graduates are confident graduates – more than equipped to make names for themselves in the world of work, right from day one – one reason perhaps why our graduates have one of the highest rates in the UK for gaining graduate level jobs. (Source: Sunday Times, 2007). • Architectural Technology • Surveying • Civil Engineering • Timber Engineering • Transport Engineering • Materials & Manufacturing • Electrical Engineering • Electronic Engineering • Mechanical Engineering

• Environmental Engineering • Sports Technology • Product Design • Polymer Engineering • Interactive Media • Information Systems • Software Engineering • Networking & other computing and IT disciplines

Get in touch now to discuss your options or arrange a visit to find out what Napier University can offer you.

08452 60 60 40 email Please quote reference SWORLD

22-23.inddF.indd 23

25/03/2008 10:54:43

‰š„‰”†•‰† Š—†“”Š•š‡†‚…Šˆİ

†“†‚“†•‰“††“†‚””˜‰š•‰†Š—†“”Š•š‡†‚…Šˆ Š”„”Š”•†•š•‰†Š—†“”Š•š‡„‰Š„†‡“‘”•ˆ“‚…–‚•†”•–…†•”ġ •–…š˜Š•‰•‰†ƒ†”•Š•‰† ČĉĒčĚĉĖėčĘĝēĊĉąĈčĒċčėēĒĉēĊĘČĉĐĉąĈčĒċ ĖĉėĉąĖćČƵčĒĘĉĒėčĚĉĒčĚĉĖėčĘčĉėčĒĘČĉ ąĒĈěĉČąĚĉ ąĒĉėĘąĆĐčėČĉĈěēĖĐĈĖĉĔęĘąĘčēĒčĒėćčĉĒćĉưČēēėĉĘē ėĘęĈĝēĒĉēĊēęĖĈĉċĖĉĉėąĒĈĝēęěčĐĐĆĉćēđĉĔąĖĘēĊą ćēĐĐąĆēĖąĘčĚĉćēđđęĒčĘĝěčĘČĈĉĉĔčĒĘĉĖĉėĘėčĒĊęĒĈąƵ đĉĒĘąĐĕęĉėĘčēĒėư

‚“Š†•š‡„‰Š„† ęĖěčĈĉĖąĒċčĒċćēęĖėĉėēĊĊĉĖĉėĘąĆĐčėČĉĈĊąĚēęĖƵ čĘĉėėęćČąėĒčđąĐćčĉĒćĉƭčēćČĉđčėĘĖĝƭčēĐēċčćąĐ ćčĉĒćĉėƭēĘąĒĝƭČĉđčėĘĖĝēđĔęĘĉĖćčĉĒćĉƭ ĐĉćĘĖēĒčćĒċčĒĉĉĖčĒċƭ ĒĊēĖđąĘčēĒĉćČĒēĐēċĝƭąĘČƵ ĉđąĘčćėƭĘąĘčėĘčćėąĒĈēēĐēċĝąėěĉĐĐąėēĆēĘčćėƭ ĝėĘĉđėĒċčĒĉĉĖčĒċƭĖĘčƅćčąĐ ĒĘĉĐĐčċĉĒćĉƭĝĆĉĖƵ ĒĉĘčćėƭċĖčćęĐĘęĖĉƭĔĔĐčĉĈćēĐēċĝąĒĈēĒėĉĖĚąĘčēĒƭ

ĒĚčĖēĒđĉĒĘąĐćčĉĒćĉƭ ēĖĘčćęĐĘęĖĉƭĉĘĉēĖēĐēċĝƭ čēđĉĈčćąĐćčĉĒćĉėƭčēđĉĈčćąĐĒċčĒĉĉĖčĒċąĒĈ ĝĆĉĖĒĉĘčćėƭĉĈčćąĐčćĖēĆčēĐēċĝƭęĘĖčĘčēĒąĒĈēēĈ ćčĉĒćĉƭČąĖđąćĝąĒĈėĝćČēĐēċĝƭĖćČąĉēĐēċĝąĒĈ ęčĐĈčĒċēĒėĘĖęćĘčēĒư

–“„‚“††“ ąĒĝēĊēęĖƆĉĜčĆĐĉĈĉċĖĉĉėčĒćēĖĔēĖąĘĉěēĖďĔĐąćĉƵ đĉĒĘėĘČĖēęċČčĒĈęėĘĖčąĐĔąĖĘĒĉĖėČčĔėąĒĈđąĒĝđēĖĉ ĐĉąĈĘēĔĖēĊĉėėčēĒąĐĐĝąććĖĉĈčĘĉĈėĘąĘęėưĉČąĚĉĆĉĉĒ čĒĘĉĖĒąĘčēĒąĐĐĝĖĉćēċĒčėĉĈĊēĖĘČĉĐąĖċĉąđēęĒĘēĊ ĔĖąćĘčćąĐěēĖďčĒēęĖĐĉćĘĖēĒčćĒċčĒĉĉĖčĒċĈĉċĖĉĉėƭ ēĒēęĖēēĐēċĝĈĉċĖĉĉĝēęćąĒĘąďĉąƅĉĐĈćēęĖėĉ ēĆėĉĖĚčĒċēĖąĒċƵęĘąĒėčĒēĖĒĉēƭēĖĝēęćēęĐĈėĘęĈĝ čĒďĐąČēđąēĒēĒĉēĊēęĖĉĘĉēĖēĐēċĝĔĖēċĖąđđĉėư ČčėċčĚĉėĝēęąĐĉąĈčĒċĉĈċĉčĒĘČĉĎēĆđąĖďĉĘư

“Ž“†Š‡“Ž‚•Š‘†‚”†„•‚„••–…†•†„“–Š•Ž†•‡Ă„† •†ƚŶŶŃŲńųųźŵŹźŸŷźŸ¡†Ž‚Š”•–…†•ġ“†„“–Š•Ž†•Š“†‚…Šˆġ‚„ġ–Œ


22-23.inddF.indd 24

25/03/2008 10:54:59

Science Worlds