Posts in Category: Engineering

An Amazing Display of Intelligence

Tuesday 30th March 2010

Actually two displays of intelligence, but both of them are linked to each other and both lead to a single result.

One of my lecturers at university likes telling us to “think from first principles”. That is, to look at a problem and to work out what is really causing the issue, and therefore come up with an engineering solution which solves that. An example he used was the bridge at Boscastle. In the aftermath of the 2004 flood, a problem was that cars got washed into the river and crashed into the bridge, which ended up blocking the flow of the river thus causing more flooding. A bunch of people looked at this and decided that the solution was to build a new bridge with a larger gap underneath so cars won’t get stuck there.

My lecturer’s suggestion was to put fencing of some sort along the sides of the river, to stop the cars going into the water in the first place. You don’t need much of an engineering background to realise that this is cheaper than building a new bridge! A much better solution.

One of the things I love about F1 is that the engineering is absolutely brilliant. And McLaren are one of the best teams in F1, so their engineers are pretty damn good. And they came up with something on their new car which I find amazingly impressive.

F1 cars run wings to create downforce. Downforce pushes the cars onto the track, which means they generate more grip and so can go quicker in corners. This also induces drag though, but in corners this isn’t as much of an issue because the extra grip makes up for the extra drag. On straights though, grip is less important than the drag of the car so the downforce is sort of “wasted”. The cars are therefore set up as a compromise, to give the best amount of grip in the corners without lowering the top speed of the car too much on straights.

But something F1 designers have looked at for years is trying to stall the wings on straights. This means stop them making downforce when it isnt needed, so there is less unnecessary drag. One way to do this is to have manually operated wings where you can change the angle of attack (like on aircraft). This is banned, for safety reasons. Another way is to have the wings deform under a certain load, so they bend into a shape which produces less downforce. Again, it’s been banned for safety reasons. But McLaren have come up with a new way to stall the rear wing, and it’s brilliant.

They have a vent in the front of the car, which carries air in a duct along the length of the car and onto the rear wing. This flow of air is positioned in a way that upsets the air flowing over the wing and so stalls it, so that the wing stops producing downforce and so produces less drag. Now, if you do this you need a way to turn it on and off, so that the vent only blows onto the rear wing on the straights. Otherwise the car will lose downforce in the corners and won’t go as quickly. They aren’t allowed to use some sort of mechanical system becuase it would count as a moveable aerodynamic device, which is banned. The solution they’ve ued is ridiculously simple. The duct runs through the cockpit, and has a hole in it. This means that when the hole is uncovered the air simply vents into the cockpit, keeps the driver a bit cooler and doesn’t upset the flow around the rear wing. When the driver covers the hole up though, the air flows to the back of the car and stalls the wing.

This is a stupidly simple solution, and completely beyond the scope of the rules. The thing which moves is the driver’s leg, and you can hardly ban drivers legs from F1! It’s a wonderful bit of engineering.

The second display of intelligence concerns one of McLaren’s drivers, Jenson Button. He won the race on Sunday with a decision to change tyres before anyone else, and with some brilliant driving. Everyone started on wet tyres because it rained at the start, but after a few laps it stopped raining and a dry line started to appear. Button realised this before anyone else and then changed to dry tyres, which moved him up from about 6th to 2nd place. He then kept those tyres till the end of the race, but not just that he managed to do consistently quick laps. The other people who were on the same tyres for that amount of time just couldn’t keep up with him.

On the other hand Button’s teammate, Lewis Hamilton, seemed to completely lose his head during the race. He really lost his composure, which quite surprised me. Before this season, most people sort of wrote Button off because the consensus is that Hamilton is quicker. And he probably is. But the thing is that the difference is probably only a few tenths of a second, and Button is possibly overall a more intelligent driver. Like in the race on Sunday; he knew when to change tyres. He knew not to push too hard on them, which meant that even at the end of the race – when drivers like Hamilton and Webber were on much newer tyres – his tyres werent too worn to stop him going quickly enough to win. I was watching the race with live timing, and his laptimes were amazingly consistent all the way through. Honestly, his drive on Sunday was one of the best I’ve seen – from anyone – for ages.

Motorsport at this level is not just about outright pace. Clever strategy can count for a lot, and it means that the battle between the McLaren drivers this year is gonna be a fascinating one.

If you havent already, watch the race on iPlayer. Well worth it because it was awesomely entertaining.

Posted In: EngineeringMotorsportTechnology Tagged: | 2 Comments


Thursday 11th March 2010

I saw Moon last night, and I can’t really decide what I think about it. Before I go further there are some spoilers here, so don’t read if you don’t want them.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the film but bits felt iffy and I can’t completely put my finger on why. I think it might be down to some of the most glaring factual errors you could think of. For instance, Moon gravity is a sixth of Earth gravity, folks! For some reason, whenever the characters were outside the base they moved much slower, as you’d expect them to in low gravity. But inside they moved normally. Hell there was a game of table tennis at one point, which struck me as particularly implausible. And also, they’ve somehow found a way to increase the speed of light, given the instantaneous communication between the Earth and the Moon.

It probably sounds like I’m nitpicking, but I don’t think I am. For a film called “Moon”, you would expect the film makers to have grappled with some of the fundamental physics of the place, and at least have come up with a reason why they choose to ignore them.

Regardless of that, it’s still a pretty enjoyable film and I really like that it’s a proper, pukka, science fiction film. Far too often sci fi just means “set in space”, as opposed to what sci-fi actually means; stories based around some sort of scientific “what if?” – for instance, Star Wars isn’t really sci fi, its just set in space. Of course, it’s another thing completely to say how good a SF film Moon is. Given that it ignores fundamentals like gravity, you could argue possibly not…

Anyway, I enjoyed it. But then I should, because it steals elements from quite a lot of other Science Fiction. It takes bits from 2001 (sentient uber-computer – Kevin Spacey plays the part, and you can tell that his brief was “sound like HAL!”), Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (implanting fake memories), The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress (using a catapult to sneak people to Earth, amongst other things), a sort-of allusion to Asimov and the Laws of Robotics. I’m sure I’ve read a short story by Clarke too about clones which the film echoes quite a lot, but I can’t be bothered to look through the books to find one.

It sounds like I’m being negative, but I did enjoy it and it’s well worth watching. Frankly it’s a much better film than most of the trite that gets released (mentioning no Avatars). The story may not be groundbreaking but it’s watchable, and other things more than make up for it. It’s rather nicely shot, especially the scenes which are set outside. And I also think Sam Rockwell is pretty good too as the main character(s). Kevin Spacey is ok as the computer, but it felt like he was trying to be HAL and failing – he didn’t quite get the pure emotionless tone that Douglas Rain managed in 2001. And by the way if anyone hasn’t seen 2001, you really should because (except for the first bit with the apes) it’s stunning. But then Kubrick was a great director and Clarke a great writer, so it’d be odd if it weren’t.

I think though that the best thing about the film is the soundtrack. It suits the film really well, helps the pacing and overal “feel” of the film, but it’s also just really good music. At the end I actually left the end credits run, because I was enjoying the music that was playing. It’s on Spotify so I suggest you all go listen now.

An interesting point came out of watching this. The other day I was having a discussion with a housemate about how you’d build on the moon, and specifically we were talking about concrete. We couldn’t decide whether the curing reaction needs air to work (I’m not sure it does, looking at it now), but irrespective of that you’d need to ship materials up there, which takes a lot of energy. When I was reading about this film though I ran into an article on Lunarcrete, which uses stuff found on the Moon to make a concrete-like material. I think they’ve even suggested using lunar glass as reinforcement (glass has a ludicrously high tensile strength. Concrete has very little, so thats why reinforcement is used), which is pretty cool. Apparently Lunarcrete isn’t airtight though, which is a fairly glaring flaw. And It also requires a lot of energy to produce, which is another issue. I presume the energy cost is still lower though than transporting a similar amount of concrete to the Moon.

Personally I think I’d just build underground, but then that probably also requires a lot of energy.

Posted In: Engineering Tagged: | 5 Comments

The Relevance of Engineering

Thursday 14th January 2010

Exam Time. I have 3 next week, had one already this week. My last one next week is Structural Analysis, and a part of that is Finite Element Analysis. We first encountered this in the 2nd year (where it actually wasn’t taught to us as such, we just had to use the concepts for some coursework), and it’s pretty powerful.

Anyway, you’ll be more than aware that as well as being an engineer, I’m also an F1 geek. F1 teams use FEA too, to model various aspects of their cars. Earlier on I came across this on iTunes, an Open University thing about, uhm, how an F1 team uses FEA. This has got to be the best distraction from revision ever; not only is it F1 related and so therefore interesting, it’s actually vaguely relevant to what I should be doing anyway. More relevant than, say, watching past episodes of Charlie Brooker’s Screenwipe on YouTube, which I of course haven’t done at all…

Posted In: EngineeringMotorsport Tagged: | 2 Comments

Climate Control

Monday 21st December 2009

I’ve said before here that I don’t know much about climate change. In fact what I said was “I don’t know whether it’s happening and really I don’t care, because it’s irrelevant”, which taken out of context says something which I didn’t intend to say, but ho hum.

Anyhow, I was reading up on the science behind climate change the other day. I was reading up on how human activity causes it, and it’s fairly interesting. It also gave me a fairly large headache, because I don’t really understand it. I understand the argument thats being made, but I don’t see how the evidence which is being presented supports that argument.

Before I continue, I’m not writing from a “boo climate change isnt happening” standpoint, because thats stupid. I just don’t understand the science. That could be (probably is) because I’m missing something, and that’s ok because I’m not a climatologist. I’m kinda hoping that by writing this, someone will write a comment which says “ah, but you’re forgetting this…” and it’ll suddenly make sense.

Ok. So looking at the data from ice cores or wherever for CO2 in the atmosphere and comparing it with the temperature of the Earth, does show a clear correlation. Historically, when there’s been an increase in the Earth’s temperature, the increase in CO2 levels comes after the temperature increase. Now this makes sense, because theres lots of CO2 stored in ice and water, so when the temperature goes up (due to, say, fluctuations in the Earth’s orbit), obviously CO2 is going to be released. And CO2 is a greenhouse gas, so clearly increased levels of CO2 help to warm the Earth’s surface, amplifying the temperature increase which has caused the extra CO2 to be released. Eventually the thing which caused the Earth to warm up in the first place stops having such an effect, so eventually the temperature of the Earth goes down again. As the temperature goes down more CO2 is dissolved in water and ice, so there’s less in the atmosphere. As I understand it, that’s the science which explains the relationship between CO2 and temperature, right upto mankind having any appreciable effect on either.

Ok, some facts which I think everyone will agree on.In the last 150-200 years, humans have put a lot of CO2 into the atmosphere. More CO2 in the atmosphere will help warm the Earth up. The Earth has warmed up – more than it has in the “recent” past – in the last  few hundred years.

However. We’re told that the current increase in the Earth’s temperature is entirely due to the increase in CO2 emissions. I don’t see where the evidence is which suggests that CO2 is such a large driver of the temperature of the Earth. If CO2 in the atmosphere plays as important a part in this as people claim it does, how come the Earth’s temperature has dropped in the past when CO2 levels were high? If a lot of CO2 in the atmosphere was that catastrophic, surely in the past when there were high levels of CO2, the temperature would have remained high once the original warming action was removed?

Why are we so sure that the current increase in temperature is purely down to CO2? Why have we ruled out the possibility that other – perhaps natural – phenomena are taking place, as they have done for thousands of years?

(Ego, perhaps?)

This isn’t to say that CO2 doesn’t play a role or that we should ignore what we’re putting into the air. If natural processes are responsible for some of the increase in temperature, then clearly we’re responsible for the rest of it. I just think that perhaps simply focussing on CO2 as the silver bullet is a really silly – maybe even dangerous – thing to do. As I’ve written before, the thing which really scares me is the fact that we’re running out of energy. Distracting ourselves with jollies to Copenhagen may make us feel like we’re doing something, but does it really solve the problem? Irrespective of whether the science is right, it annoys me that so many people have simplified the issue so much, to the point that they’re not even trying to solve the right problem. Stop CO2 emissions with sustainable fuels. Problems solved. As I said in the last post, that should be our Apollo…

In a comment on Callan’s blog, I likened Copenhagen to rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic. That’s not true – it’s more trying to pump the water out to keep the ship from sinking. I mean it’ll work, albeit at great expense and inconvenience. But it doesn’t really solve the problem of the holes beneath the water, does it?

Posted In: EngineeringPoliticsRant Tagged: | 8 Comments

The Second Best Thing About Christmas…

Friday 4th December 2009

…is that it’s the only time of the year where I feel it appropriate to listen to this. It seems wrong to listen to it during the summer, so it feels like a treat to listen to it in December (even though it’s not christmas yet and I don’t feel particularly christmassy)

I love winter songs. There are a few things that when I listen to them, it just feels like winter. That song is one example, and another would be Echoes by Pink Floyd (also an absolutely stunning song). When I hear Echoes it just reminds me for some reason of winter. Perhaps it’s just a really good song to listen to on another cold wet dreary day; very good distraction. Another really good example is the whole of “In the Court of the Crimson King” by King Crimson.

On the other hand, “Wincing the Night Away” by the Shins and “The Long Goodbye” by The Essex Green are both summer albums, best enjoyed on a bright warm afternoon. Preferably whilst driving with all the windows open and singing along maniacally…

And no-one picked up on the Shins lyric in the last title btw? It’s because I wrote it in August and it was sat in my drafts since then (where it possibly should have remained…). I’d only just heard of them so I was mostly listening to them at the time.

I can’t wait to get to summer. Get rid of the crappy weather and the boredom of uni. I’m really bored at the moment. I feel stuck in a rut and it’s really, really frustrating. Ho hum.

And no-one showed us to the land
And no-one knows the wheres or why
But something stirs and something tries
And starts to climb towards the light

Theres a suggestion that Echoes was written to go along with the ending of 2001: A Space Odyssey. I don’t know how true it is but I’ve watched them together and even if it’s accidental, it fits the film really well. The film/book is really good too and if you haven’t seen/read it, you should.

Science fiction doesn’t seem to be as popular as I think it should be. Or rather, the term is horrendously misused. Science fiction isn’t a catch-all term for “set in space”; it’s way more imaginitive than that. Sci-fi isn’t mere fantasy, it’s fiction that dares to say “what if?”. Stories that may seem fantastic or far-fetched but which at some level have a grounding in science. They’re way more imaginitive than fiction that just makes everything up because, at the edge of the reader’s mind is the idea of “someday, maybe not in my lifetime but someday, this could happen”. The idea of sending manned spacecraft to Jupiter or establising a permanent colony on the Moon is far-fetched, but why not aim for that?

The science fiction of men like Asimov and Clarke inspired a generation of scientists to go and aim for the impossible, and some of them did it. We landed on the moon in 1969, and then we went back a few times, and now we don’t do that any more. Why is that? Doesn’t it make you mad? (yeah, I’ve been watching Cosmos lately, so this rang very true. I’ve mostly been watching because of this, which is very good)

I wrote a post in September about crossroads (oh and there’s another absolutely awesome song, whichever version you take) and this is what I was kinda getting at. In the 60s, Mankind (well, America, but lets not split hairs) set a challenge to go to the Moon. British and French engineers were tacking an even bigger challenge in making the first supersonic passenger jet. The network that became the Internet was just starting to be created. Massive projects which, at first glance, were nigh on impossible. A generation of kids grew up being inspired by science, partly from science fiction, and went on to do amazing things. Why does this not happen today? Fewer and fewer people are choosing to study science, maths or engineering, and don’t you think that is maddeningly weird? Whatever the reason, I find it staggering that so few people are interested in those fields because, well, what on earth is more interesting than finding out how and why the universe works, or shaping it for the future?

The point I wanted to make in that post in September was that we’ve showed in that past that when a bunch of smart people try to solve a problem, they can do amazing things. The human race is facing possibly the biggest problem we’ve ever faced, and what are we doing? As far as I can see, very little. What we are doing makes rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic look like a brave and noble effort.

So anyway, I actually only meant to write about a sentence before going to bed to carry on reading a book. And I really didn’t intend to write about most of what I’ve written about, I just forgot to stop writing and let thoughts splurge into the text box. If only writing dissertations and project reports was so easy!

Oh, by the way, the best thing about christmas is christmas lunch. Best meal of the year. The third best thing (to finish off the podium) is probably Scrooge. I think it’s widely recognised as fact that it’s the only good musical ever written. Marley still scares me a little bit, even if he is Obi-Wan Kenobi. It’s that little wave as he closes the door; I don’t care what you say it’s just spooky.

Posted In: EngineeringGeekMusicPoliticsRantSleepStuff Tagged: | 12 Comments


Wednesday 28th October 2009

I had to give a talk today about my year out. All the placement students have to give a presentation in front of 2nd years who are thinking of doing the same thing, and we get 15 minutes to cover the year. I’d imagine in most cases it’s pretty difficult to sum it all up in 15 minutes, but in my case I found it particularly difficult because I worked in three places doing two very different jobs. There was a lot that I missed out, which is a pity.

This is my final year of University. I was worried that I’d find it all incredibly tedious but actually I’m rather enjoying it. Yes some of my lectures are truly tedious (I really can’t find it in me to care about geotechnical engineering, possibly because the lectures are really hard to follow), but equally some are really fascinating (as ever, the water module. Who would’ve thought that the design of water/sewage treatment works could be interesting?), so it’s all good. I think my attitude is very different to before I did my year out, which is something I didn’t think would happen. I find it less difficult to motivate myself to do work now, which is pretty good seeing how I’ve got a hell of a lot to do this year…

I’m halfway through week 5 of the final year (yes, Cardiff University starts back at a proper time, unlike some “institutions” I could mention that can’t be bothered to start the year until about halfway into October… :-p). I’ve already applied for one graduate job, my to-do list for the rest of the week includes finishing the form for another one, and I’m considering a couple of other things too. All that, and I think I’ve still got a fairly good chance of getting a job with the company I finished my year placement with, should I want it. But the thing I’ve just applied for is the one I really want.

Whilst I was writing the talk I gave today, looking through my diaries and photos from the past year and thinking about how to cram almost a year’s worth of experiences into 15 minutes (the answer: 37 slides in PowerPoint), I started to miss working. In fact, I went with one of my brothers to watch my other brother play rugby the other day (yup, both my younger brothers followed me to Cardiff when they went to university. Oddly, we’re still all at different unis), and there was a building site right next to the pitch. As we walked past, I couldnt help thinking to myself “yeah, it’d be a lovely day to be out on-site today”.

The thing I miss the most is the feeling of “I did that”. It’s the feeling of having done something, of having made a difference in some small way and having something tangible to show for it. You can go and see the work I’ve done in the last year, and it’ll be there for a while yet. That’s a great thought.

I pretty much stumbled into engineering. I’m not sure how, but now I’m here I’m really glad that I did. It’s a fabulous profession because We Do Stuff. In the Victorian era, engineers like Brunel, Telford and Stephenson were celebrities; people queued up to visit their latest marvels. Engineers built your house, designed the circuits to carry electricity to it and worked out how best to lay the cables that carried this writing to your computer, which yet another engineer designed. Civil engineers are the reason you have clean drinking water, and I think we’re fairly justified in arguing that we save more lives every year through that one thing that we all take utterly for granted, than the medical profession could ever hope to achieve.

And I guess that brings us back to sewage treatment. On which I have a lecture at 9am tomorrow morning, so I should go to bed.

Posted In: EngineeringSleep Tagged: | 17 Comments

Silly Library

Thursday 1st October 2009

While I had my year out, the engineering library at uni was done up. It’s very nice, and one thing they’ve introduced is a self-service thing, for borrowing and returning books. All the books have RFID tags, so you put them on a shelf and it identifies them. You swipe your uni card to id yourself, and all is done. Snazzy.

The thing I don’t get though is that the thing reads a barcode on the card, and like all barcodes it can take a few attempts. Our uni id cards (which double as library cards) have RFID, so why use the barcode, especially as the thing has an RFID reader anyway? Seems daft.

But I’m nitpicking, it’s a fairly good use of technology.

Posted In: EngineeringRantTechnology Tagged: | 7 Comments


Monday 28th September 2009

I think this is an important time for mankind. We face a variety of really massive problems and the way we deal with these is, I think, going to shape the rest of human history in a way that very little has in the past.

Our lifestyles are a result of hundreds – no, thousands of years of development and progress. We constantly strive to go one better; to do the impossible thing, solve the unanswerable question. In my opinion it’s one of the fundamental characteristics of the human race and probably the most admirable one too. Especially in the last 100-odd years, we’ve developed ourselves and our environments at a dizzying rate, and things that we take for granted today would baffle our ancestors from the early 20th century, let alone anyone older than that.

The problem is that it’s not sustainable. We’re heavily reliant on various depletable resources, and we’re using them pretty damn quickly. What’s more, those energy sources are tremendously flawed and by using them we’re damaging not only the environment but also ourselves. We only get one shot at this; we have one life to live and (currently…) one planet on which to live. One planet for us and – with any luck – millennia of our descendants. To be so accepting of both of them being damaged in such a way just seems so insane.

I have to say that I don’t know much about climate change. We’re told that the evidence really does point towards man-made climate change being a fact, but when I’ve looked at it on my own (admittedly not in massive detail) it all seems so… inconclusive. So I don’t know whether it’s happening and really I don’t care, because it’s irrelevant (and not the point of this post so please don’t try to comment about it). As I see it, burning these things is really harmful even before we take into account any possible effect on climate change. And besides, we really need to find an alternative because the stuff is running out. While we’re at it, that replacement may as well be non-damaging because it makes sense and it’s possible.

We’re being told that the way we live our life is wrong. Our cars are too big, we fly around the world too much, we don’t recycle enough. But really, it isn’t. It’s imperfect, but I don’t subscribe to the view that we should effectively regress in order to reduce emissions by a tiny amount. Our parents got to fly around the world, experience being on the cutting edge of mankind. Who the hell are they to deny us the same priviledge? Yes we should change our lifestyles (for instance more people should use public transport – but first the public transport system should be less horrendously terrible), but there’s a balance to be struck. The big problems arent individuals, it’s big businesses. But I guess it’s bad politics to attack them…

My point is that the issue we’re facing is not climate change. Of course it’s something to be aware of and try to counter, but it’s not the really scary problem. That problem is that we’re going to run out of energy soon and as far as I can tell we’re doing very little about it. We need answers pretty soon, but we’re stuck asking the wrong questions.

Posted In: EngineeringRantSleepTechnology Tagged: | 7 Comments

Can’t They Just Move It Forward a Couple of Weeks?

Wednesday 29th July 2009

Schumacher back in F1. The circumstances are awful, but it’s fucking brilliant that he’s coming back. I really can’t wait for the next race. Pity I’m gonna be at V that weekend and will miss it; I despise not seeing races/qualifying live at the best of times…

I mentioned in a previous post (if you can remember back that far…) that I was moving away from Brize. Well, I spent 2 weeks in the office in Erdington (which was amazingly dull), before starting on another site. This time I’m in Cardiff, doing the hospital that I was meant to be working on back in January… It’s nice not working away. I like the actual travelling – I quite enjoyed my Monday morning blasts to work – but it’s shit being away from home for the week. It means that when you get back you’ve got a list of things that you want/need to do, but it’s the weekend so you just want to chill out. And, daft as it probably sounds, it’s nice to get back from work and be in your own space.

So anyway, I’m in Cardiff now. I was actually one of the first people to get on site and get everything set up for the job to start, so it’s cool to see it all progressing now. It’s actually gonna be kinda crap to leave, because I wanna see the rest of the job through. But, uni beckons. Which is another reason why it’s gonna be crap to leave. I fundamentally enjoy my course and whatnot, but work is just so much more interesting. And uni means homework, which is just crap. At least with work, I get there at 8, do whatever it is that I need to get done, then leave at 6 and after that I don’t have to worry about it. It doesnt feel like a chore or anything like that, because it’s work and thats what I’m there for. The problem with homework is that it’s done in your own time and I can never really be bothered. But then if I don’t do it, there’s the nagging guilt that I really should be doing some work. It’s shit.

I’m telling myself that I’m gonna try to stick with working 9 to 5 and sort of treat uni like a job. If I can get into the discipline of going down to the library (the only place that I can reliably get stuff done), then I’ll be ok. I’m not sure what the likelihood is though…

Apart from work, it’s been a fairly busy few weeks. Went to Silverstone a few weeks ago for the Renault thing; then the week after I went home for a gig/general drunkenness, then straight to London for, uh, a gig and general drunkenness. Then last weekend went to North Wales. Lots of good times. There’s much less planned for the next month (except for V, which I’m sorta regretting saying I’d go to), which kinda sucks.

I’m really tempted to go to Monza for the Italian GP in September. There’s gonna be a great atmosphere with Schumacher racing again (the Tifosi love him, for obvious reasons). I’d love to be there. And I’d love Schumacher to win a race. It’s probably contraversial for a Brit to like him after what he did to “Our Damon” in 1994, but fuck it. He’s an absolutely amazing driver – anyone who can finish 2nd in a Grand Prix with a car that’s stuck in 5th gear for most of the race, deserves some serious kudos.

Also, Hamilton vs Schumacher. Now there’s a battle that I hope we get to see…

Posted In: EngineeringMotorsport Tagged: | 2 Comments

I Really Can’t Think Of A Decent Title For This Post

Monday 25th May 2009

Watching the Monaco Grand Prix yesterday, I was extremely jealous of everyone who was there to watch it. I’d love to go to any Grand Prix, but rarely do I watch and wish I was actually there. But the idea of watching the race around the streets of Monaco, over the gorgeous harbour and under a fantastic blue sky, then retiring to a bar for several (probably overly-expensive) cold beers, really appeals.

The race at Monaco is definitely one of the worst. It’s fairly (very) processional, with very little overtaking. Unless it’s raining, it’s very rarely a massively exciting race. Yet if you ask most F1 fans, it’s the race they most want to go to. That’s because even though it’s a crap race, it’s a unique opportunity to see massively powerful, massively fast cars racing on a public road; cars doing an average speed of 100mph on roads that otherwise take normal traffic, and doing it in close proximity to barriers which punish the slightest mistake. On a properly fast lap, the drivers actually brush the edge of the tyres against the barriers. At over 100mph. Oh, and because it’s all really cramped, it’s also the race where you can get the closest to the track and see all this taking place. Great stuff.

Anyway, there are a few things that I’ve been meaning to blog about (and how many times have I said that now?). I’m gonna try to write some of that stuff down though soon. To sort of nudge myself into doing it, I’m gonna list some of the topics here. Hopefully that’ll shame me into writing it, cos in a month or two I’ll look at the list and think “oops, I said I’d write about that”…

  • Technology
  • Photography (this one could be contraversial…)
  • Alcohol
  • Business/economy
  • Politics
  • Life, the universe, everything
  • Driving
  • Engineering/work

Some of those could get amalgamated (“Alcohol” and “Life/universe/everything” are good candidates for that), and I might think of something else to write about before I do any of the above. The list is just there to prod me into writing more (and maybe someone else will prod me, “Oi, you said you were gonna write about x and you still havent!”).

I was somewhat amazed to read the comments on Flix’s blog a while back, with people saying they wouldn’t wanna change uni-world for the real world. I’m the exact opposite. As much as I moan about it sometimes, and as much as I’m utterly bored of getting up at quarter to 7 (or quarter to 6 on Monday mornings), I much prefer work. I like being finished at half 5, I like the feeling of Getting Something Done, and I absolutely adore being out of the Student Bubble. Being paid really doesn’t suck, either. I was back in Cardiff on Friday and went to the pub with a load of my mates down there, and all of us who have done a year out this year agree that we prefer working. In some ways, I’m kinda dreading going back to Uni.

Anyway, 3 months left and allegedly I’ll be moving away from Brize soon, to work in Head Office on another project. Be annoying to be off-site during the sunny summer, but it’ll be interesting to try yet another thing this year. Reduce my fuel bills a hell of a lot, too…

Posted In: EngineeringMotorsportSite Tagged: | 1 Comment