Sunday, October 17, 2010

1,000 mph on the streets of London

I like fast cars, and none come faster than Britain's latest attempt on the world land speed record - Bloodhound SSC. SSC stands for Super Sonic Car, which is precisely the aim of this latest project - a car which breaks the sound barrier (around 750mph) and then press on to over 1,000mph. Fiction you might think? Well, think again, as today the full-sized mock-up of the car was on-show on The Strand in London.

I have childhood memories of Richard Noble breaking the record in Thrust 2, but it was Thrust SSC (the first and only official supersonic record holder) which really captured my imagination. This car was run in the Black Rock desert in autumn 1997, a time when I was in Canada attending an extended software training course at Nortel. It was a fantastic time, and to be able to follow the record attempts on line, via the web site and e-mail updates, was cutting edge at the time and really engaged us followers in the runs. The webcam pictures of the Airshelta told you when the car was running (i.e. it was empty), and I still remember checking my e-mails in the classroom when instead I should have been paying attention to the lesson, and the day the record was broken. I wish I'd kept that e-mail!

Now the team are attempting to break their own record with Bloodhound, and I'm both a member of the supporters' '1K club', and an educational ambassador for the project, which is one of the key objectives of Bloodhound. In a world where land speed records may be a little out of fashion (ecologically, financially, etc) Richard Noble has put the emphasis on Bloodhound to make it a vehicle to inspire young students to pursue careers involving Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. To this end, Bloodhound is working closely with the UK government's STEM organisation, and ambassadors like me are taking the Bloodhound message into schools and hopefully inspiring more kids to go on to be the UK's technology pioneers of the future. I think it's a great idea, and I understand Bloodhound is proving a very popular addition to the curriculum.

Below are a few shots from today's demo in The Strand (including an appearance by Mr Noble who is a real star wherever he goes). I hope the traffic wasn't held up too much - buses, taxis, coaches, and even traffic wardens were pulled in to help set the scene! Good fun. Meanwhile, I urge you to visit the project's web site, and join the 1K club or contribute in any way you can.

Some of my shots made it to the project's web site!

Thanks for reading,