Rocket technology has evolved for more than 2000 years. Today’s rockets are a product of…
This is the first post of a three-part series on great engineers, inventors, pioneers, aviators and pilots that have shaped the history of aviation. Each profile provides a little nugget of information about their key achievements and invites you to learn more about these pioneering men and women by clicking on the embedded links. While […]
A very important parameter when designing jet engines is specific power – the amount of power output divided by the mass of the engine. In general, a good heuristic to keep in mind when designing anything that moves is that maximising the power output per unit mass leads to a more efficient design. Afterburning is […]
Aeroelasticity is the study of the interactions between dynamic, inertial and aerodynamic forces that arise when a body is immersed in airflow. The unique challenge of aeroelasticity is to analyse how vibrations, static deflections and lift and drag forces combine, and to make sure that any interaction of these three forces does not lead to inferior aircraft […]
After Germany and its allies lost WWI, motor flying became strictly prohibited under the Treaty of Versailles. Creativity often springs from constraints, and so, paradoxically, the ban imposed by the Allies encouraged precisely what they had actually wanted to thwart: the growth of the German aviation industry. As all military flying was prohibited under the Treaty, […]
On November 8, 1940 newspapers across America opened with the headline “TACOMA NARROWS BRIDGE COLLAPSES”. The headline caught the eye of a prominent engineering professor who, from reading the news story, intuitively realised that a specific aerodynamical phenomenon must have led to the collapse. He was correct, and became publicly famous for what is now known as […]
How quickly do the small bubbles of gas rise in a pint of beer?
To answer this question we will use the concept of aerodynamic drag introduced in the last two posts […]
In a previous post we covered the history of rocketry over the last 2000 years. By means of the Tsiolkovsky rocket equation we also established that the thrust produced by a rocket is equal to the mass flow rate of the expelled gases multiplied by their exit velocity. In this way, chemically fuelled rockets […]
“Engineering is not the handmaiden of physics any more than medicine is of biology”
What is science? And how is it different from engineering? The two disciplines are closely related and the differences seem subtle at first, but science and engineering ultimately have different goals.
A scientist attempts to gain knowledge about the underlying structure of the […]
Earlier this year, I had the privilege of working on a research project at NASA’s Langley Research Centre. Apart from interacting with world-renowned scientists and engineers, what impressed me most was the mind-blowing heritage of the site.
NASA Langley is the birthplace of large-scale, government-funded aeronautical research in the US. It was home to […]
In previous posts I have discussed the unique characteristics and manufacturing processes of a certain type of composite material, namely continuous fibre-reinforced plastics (FRPs). Just like many other composite materials, FRPs combine two or more materials whose combined properties are superior (in a practical engineering sense) to the properties […]
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- The History of Rocket Science
- From Glider to WII Fighter: Lessons Learned from Glider Design
After Germany and its allies lost WWI, motor flying became strictly prohibited under the Treaty…
- From Wright Flyer to Space Shuttle
On December 17 1903, the bicycle mechanic Orville Wright completed the first successful flight in…