I'm always looking for new ways to bore the wife.
Which country is credited with designing more than half of the world’s most important inventions. Is it Germany, home of the VW? Japan, birthplace of the Walkman? The US, land of NASA and Google? No: Britain. Scientists, engineers, architects and inventors in Britain have made their mark on the world with trains, jet engines, …
Spent many a hapy day there as a child and later as an astrophysics student.
The Lovell is awesome, if you can see it being repositioned, it's worth the trip alone. I did hear from people who did actual research there that you can walk under the "new" surface and along the old one under it.
Never done it, but if you guys can pull some press weight and get pictures...
The Wrights weren't the first to achieve powered manned flight by a long shot. Nor was Pearse. There were a couple of previous straightline takeoffs/landings, but only under ideal conditions (these crashed in the slightest crosswind, etc)
The Wrights were the first to achieve CONTROLLED, REPEATABLE, manned powered flight - and it's ironic that the method they used (wing warping) is being considered for high-efficiency aircraft, given it was abandoned quickly in favour of ailerons because it was extremely dangerous in a turn.
"Contrary to popular belief, porcines can aviate quite well, given sufficient thrust and vectoring. However manouvering and landing remain areas with outstanding issues."
By all accounts Pearse ended up in a hedges on his first few attempts after (probably) stalling a wing in the edge of ground effect. While there are plenty of reports of him in controlled flight they all date from after the Wright Brothers sucess at Kitty Hawk. His real achievement was the invention of the lightweight opposed-piston engine, but as he never bothered making notes that wasn't realised until 50 years after someone else reinvented it.
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Ah yeess... Martlesham.
I did a short secondment there in the late 80's and remember three things about it specifically :-
1. The 'inspirational' slogans hanging above doors (e.g. 'Research Is The Gateway To Tomorrow')
2. Having to eat lunch at 11 a.m. otherwise the canteen would fill up and you couldn't get in
3. Being asked in total seriousness 'Are there any women where you work?'
"So dust off the GPS, fire up Google Maps and join The Reg’s Geek's Guide to Britain for a geeky potter around our nation's sci-tech hotspots."
Marine chronometer (working), UK, 1761 - GPS still uses precise time
Decca Navigator System, UK/USA, 1944
AutoRoute, UK, 1988
Ordnance Survey, UK, 1995 - large-scale electronic mapping
Visit the Crofton Beam Engines in Wiltishire to see an original Boulton and Watt stream engine, still in its original location, and still capable of doing what it was designed to do two centuries ago. When it comes to tech that changed the world, you can't much important than the Industrial Revolution.
...(well, it was actually a long time ago ~30 years) I went on a brewery visit in South London where they were still using a Stephenson beam engine to transmit rotational power around the building. They claimed it was an economic proposition because they had lots of residual low-pressure steam available from the cask cleaning processes.
I left the country, never to return shortly after, so I don't know if it still exists. The visit was the culmination of a pilgrimage to visit all the pubs that brewery served. I didn't make it to all of them, but was still invited. It was Young's, I think.
Remember that the Crofton Beam Engine was secondhand when it was installed at Crofton. It had been used in a Cornish mine before that.
Well worth the visit especially is there is a Steam special going down the 'Hants & Berks' line that runs close to the Canal.
Then there is the Arkwright Mills in Derbyshire, Leadhills (public library) Scotland
And naturally Ironbridge/Coalbrookdale where the true industrial revolution began (IMHO)
Coat with a copy of my 'guide to the industrial archaeology of the UK' in the pocket
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I remember the pre-Adastral days when BT was adding to the campus there. A very high tech-looking building was going up near the entrance, and staff took great delight in impressing visitors, telling them that it was the new chip fabrication facility. It was, of course, the new staff restaurant...
Don't forget the Porthcurno Telegraph Museum down in Cornwall.
Not just undersea cable stuff, all sorts of communications technology, actual working spark gap transmitters too. It's all housed in a shielded nuclear bunker so can demonstrate stuff that is not possible (legally) elsewhere.
And while you're down there there's the Goonhilly satellite ground station.
And if you're into steam engines there's a working one at one of the tin mines on the north coast. I forget the name for the moment though.
The first self-powered road vehicle was another British invention - there's a replica doing the rounds which is worth seeing in motion if you can - the steering mechanism is especially entertaining!
The original scored many points for Britishness by burning itself out while the drivers were in the pub...
Ran into it by accident during a cycling trip around the Norfolk Broads. I spent 4 hours there, but an entire day is probably required to do it justice. The experience is enhanced by some of the curators having worked there during it's operational use
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