British Science Week is a ten-day long celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths. To mark this important week we asked the Hybrid Air Vehicles team what their favourite British innovation was.
As a frequent hiker and cyclist (often in the cold, or pouring rain) and voracious tea/coffee drinker, my personal favourites have to be the Thermos Flask, invented by Sir James Dewar, whilst carrying out experiments in the field of cryogenics, and the Mackintosh Coat, invented when Charles Mackintosh developed a way to waterproof clothing using rubber.
Senior Electrical & Avionics Systems Software Design Engineer
Concorde demonstrated extraordinary British innovation across many technologies, and delivered a capability that has never been replicated or beaten in over 50 years of subsequent aerospace development. Although commercial success was not achieved, this does not negate the huge contribution that the project made to inspiring generations of young engineers.
Chief Operating Officer
Not only did John Snow pioneer anaesthesia, he is also the father of epidemiology. During an outbreak of cholera during the 1850s, Snow successfully identified infected water as the source of the disease by locating clusters, point mapping, using statistics, and tracing water sources.
Head of Communications & External Affairs
The best example of British innovation for me is the World Wide Web (the initial concept of global information sharing was the brainchild of Sir Tim Berners-Lee in 1989). It is not without its weaknesses, but it has transformed the way people run their lives and businesses and had a positive impact on training through knowledge sharing.
Engineering Department Manager
In 1840 Sir Roland Hill reformed the postage system and invented the postage stamp (the penny black), revolutionising the way we communicate.
Head of Defence & Security Business Development
For my favourite British innovation, I have three. Vaccination (Edward Jenner, 1798), which saved millions of lives and continues to do so. This is closely followed by Penicillin (Alexander Fleming and team, 1929), an innovation out of which grew the science of antibiotics, which also saves millions every day. Finally, the jet engine (Frank Whittle, 1930) which allowed modern high-speed mass-market physical connectivity around the world which would have been impractical with piston engines.
The steam engine has to be my favourite British innovation. The invention of the steam engine was an incredibly important step in our history and was crucial to the industrialisation of modern civilisation.
Senior Production Planner
Identified as one of the “founding fathers” of computer science, Alan Turing’s work in the tech sphere was impactful. The complexities of his Turing machine are many and varied, but the Universal Turing Machine laid the foundation for any modern computer capable of copying a file from one medium to another.
Head of Aviation Safety & Quality Assurance
My favourite British innovation has to be the Fuel Cell as it will enable us to fly Airlander with just water vapour as exhaust.
The British three pin plug is a fantastic innovation because it is safer than any other plug design in the world (Built in fuse; Shutter arrangement whereby the longer earth pin opens shutters to allow the live pins in; Robust structure and internal wiring layout resistant to damage).
Commercial Business Development Director
One of my favourite inventions is the steam engine. In 1698 Thomas Savery patented this wonderful machine which went on to power everything from bicycles to boats, farm equipment to nuclear electricity and industrial revolutions!
My favourite British innovation would be Electromagnetic Induction by Michael Faraday. This initiative paved the way for generating nearly all the electricity that has powered the world and is in every vehicle in some form.
The Hovercraft invented by Christopher Cockerell is over 60 years old and still being used today!
Head of Mechanical Systems
The first automatic electric kettle was invented in 1955 by William Russell and Peter Hobbs – an incredibly important British innovation for all tea lovers!