The need for speed: the downhill toboggan world record

Sometimes you get a phone call and someone asks you for help: they get you on a good day, at a positive moment and you think “yeah, why not? That sounds like fun”.  Later, you realise you’re committed to helping to break a world record — the fastest speed for a gravity powered sled — and people […]

Cycling’s a drag, but it doesn’t have to be

After a regrettably lengthy hiatus from the blog, this article was inspired by the excellent aerodynamics segments of the ITV’s tour de France coverage (in collaboration with Southampton University). Cycling aerodynamics in the 1980’s A few years ago my colleague Dr Richard Lukes wrote a review paper titled “The understanding and development of cycling aerodynamics” […]

Humidity doesn’t affect cricket ball swing

This July sees the next biannual conference on Sports Engineering, held at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. The conference always has a lot of interesting papers on the subject of engineering and technology in sport. Thanks to the internet age, the papers at this conference are also available online for anyone to read. Before the […]

How can we cycle faster?

At the museum we have a great exhibit with two racing bikes along a simulated course; this has sparked a range of questions on the topic of cycling, from the physics of riding a bike to the most popular question; how can we cycle faster? How do we master the art of balancing on two […]

Indoor skydiving as an Olympic sport?

I was lucky enough recently to visit a relative in California with a house above the San Francisco Bay.  How excited was I when I realised I could see NASA Ames’ Moffett Field across the bay?  This houses Hangar One, an old airship hanger like something out of Flash Gordon, and the World’s largest wind […]

A year to go: engineering sport for London 2012

The common perception of engineering and sport is that of shiny new bikes, aerodynamic helmets and sleek bobsleds.  I often get asked, “isn’t it just the best equipment that wins now, rather than the athlete?”  The answer – as far as I’m concerned – is obviously “no” and I’ve spent my working life in the […]

The problem of the Wimbledon roof

The comments made about the new roof over Wimbledon’s Centre Court have puzzled me.  The Wall Street Journal and the Times had the headline “Wimbledon Roof Slows Balls Down” while the Daily Mail had “How Centre Court’s new roof puts a dampener on Andy Murray’s serve” (I admit that I’m quoted in this one).  One […]