Engineering in the news and around the ‘net

So this week it’s my turn to share a few of my favourite stories from around the wonderful world of the internet! Lined up for you today I’ve got a bit of F1 technology with other applications, a man with a serious hobby, science conference update, medical breakthroughs and a method to help reduce global warming, along with a bonus 6th story (I’m just greedy!), about a new experiment in Australia – I hope you enjoy! Please feel free to get involved and leave a comment.

To celebrate Williams F1 Team winning their first F1 race since 2004 at Barcelona at the weekend, the first link in this week’s round up  is about the success of a subsidiary company, Williams Hybrid Power.

 Williams F1 Flywheel to be used on London buses

Sometimes F1 technology passes into everyday use, and the announcement that Williams Hybrid Power are supplying their flywheel kinetic energy recovery system to London buses proves that it’s not just high end sports cars that benefit from the technology. Of course high end racing cars can also use the flywheel technology, as Porsche and Audi are proving! I love how the technology can be used for different applications – although I don’t think the Audi R18 e-tron Le Mans team are worrying about a 30% saving in their fuel bills like the bus company Go-Ahead!

Paperboard Built F1 Cars

Paul Bischof creates planes, F1 cars and sportscars out of paperboard, with every single part hand crafted after painstaking research to find out the exact dimensions. I can’t remember how I came across it but it was his unveiling of a 1:10th scale Red Bull RB7  that I found last week – I am absolutely astounded by the attention to detail, and so much effort has gone into it with brilliant results. There’s also full reports on other cars Paul has created – including Ronnie Peterson’s Lotus 79 from 1978.

Science Communication Conference 2012

On Twitter I follow quite a few people involved in science and engineering, and I’ve noticed a hashtag pop up a few times over the past day or two #scicom12. Now I’ve looked into it, how I wish I was there! With the wonders of modern technology, and more importantly social media, I almost feel like I was after reading this blog post with all the details from day 1!

A microchip restores some vision

Doctors can do some amazing things, but a story in the Independent grabbed my attention as a new clinical trial has helped a blind man Chris James, get some of his sight back after 20 years. A microchip was inserted into the back of his eye, and it functions like the retina, reacting to light and sending an electronic signal that is processed by the brain. Mr James still has very limited black and white vision, and is only able to make out shapes in a small region, but hopefully these breakthrough cases lead to further improvements in the technology!

A study says painting roofs white is as green as….

taking ALL the cars off the roads for 50 years! I’m not entirely sure the numbers quoted in the study can be accurate, but it sounds like a good idea to me! The idea is if buildings and roads were painted with a light colour, they would reflect light, keeping cities and buildings cooler and reducing the need for air conditioning (in hot places obviously, rather than the UK!). The latest study puts a global figure at 130-150billion tonnes of CO2, although it doesn’t make it clear on the time scale of this figure, it is claimed that it is the same amount of CO2 as cars create in 50 years. It is also claimed that increasing the reflection of sunlight will help reduce the effects of global warming, so it seems like a good idea to me! I haven’t read evidence to prove this so if people with knowledge on this kind of thing would like to chip in the comments then please do!

Simulating the effects of climate change

The final link from me this week is about a study that I think is long overdue with all the talk about global warming and climate change. An Australian university is going to run an experiment into the effects of increased CO2 levels, to find out the effect on living things if nothing is done to reduce carbon emissions over the next 35 years. I think this is exactly the type of research that governments should be paying attention too and using as prime examples of why we all need to be working together to reduce climate change.

I am a vehicle performance engineer working in F1 after graduating from Oxford Brookes University in 2009 with an MEng in Motorsport Engineering. As an Associate member of the IMechE, a member of the Women’s Engineering Society and a STEM Ambassador, I’d like to help raise the profile of engineering.

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