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I happened across this BBC news report about a stolen bus brought to a halt on the M1 motorway by a police stinger. If you want to see a stinger up close, you’d be better off visiting our Making the Modern World gallery and seeing the one we’ve got on display, rather than stealing a bus: Quite by chance, our stinger is on display right next to a piece of the M1 motorway: And to complete this very literal interpretation […]

I had a great day yesterday at the Science Museum Wroughton, recording a series of video interviews promoting the Festival of Innovation (12 – 13 September). I was there to talk about twenty transport icons that shaped the modern world. One was a Moulton bicycle, the first significant design change to the bike since J. K. Starley’s ‘Rover’ safety bicycle hit the scene in the 1880s. The Moulton is a small-wheel, compact cycle with full suspension that is easy to […]

Last week I showed you one of our family of crash-test dummies, called Sierra Susie. I was never really sure whether that was a type name or a one-off until I found, quite by chance, a 1996 NATO report on crash test dummies. It was stuffed in a filing cabinet I had never previously had the courage to open. My office is full of them. Anyway, right at the front I found a table of dummy types. The first whole-body […]

Last week our Antenna team brought in a pair of self-guided ‘pod cars’ that will soon be installed at Heathrow airport, transporting passengers from the car parks to the terminals. There’s no driver in the four-seat cabins – they’re controlled by lasers bouncing off an external guideway and feedback tells the pod to steer as necessary. It’s a sophisticated new take on a fifty-year-old concern. The Science Museum has a 1960 Citroen DS19 car which was modified by the Road […]

I saw a report in last week’s Daily Telegraph suggesting that whilst road deaths are on a general downwards slope, drink-driving deaths were up last year. The report then brings up the perennial debate about speed cameras. This is, of course, a complex matter, involving the intersection of people, technology and legislation. Cars and trucks are big, heavy and fast, so road safety – for passengers and pedestrians – has been the subject of life-saving innovation for decades. On display […]

In a previous post I mentioned Malcolm Campbell and his remarkable speed records set on land and water in his Blue Bird vehicles. Campbell was buried in St Nicholas’s churchyard in Chislehurst, near Bromley. I was planning to go on a walk in Petts Wood (near Chislehurst) last weekend with friends anyway, so I thought I’d take a photo of his grave: Close to Malcolm’s plot is the grave of somebody perhaps less well known, but whose actions have had […]

Back in January, a Japan Airlines Boeing 747 airliner successfully tested a camelina-based biofuel, prompting hopes that a non-petroleum-based jet fuel might one day power the world’s airline fleets (and maybe cars and trucks too). At the Science Museum we’ve been tracking jet engine technology since it was first developed, back before the Second World War. Of particular note in our displays is the Gloster-Whittle E.28/39, Britain’s first successful jet aircraft: That’s in the Flight gallery, and you can find […]

It’s a busy time for transport anniversaries. I’ve already mentioned the centenary of Bleriot’s flight across the Channel and the ninetieth anniversary of Alcock & Brown’s crossing of the Atlantic. Today, I’ll talk about one more pioneering flight across water. The craft was called ‘SR-N1’ (Saunders Roe Number 1), and it too flew across the Channel, fifty years to the day since Bleriot first flew over. But this flight, in 1959, was very close to the water. You guessed it: […]

We’ve got the remarkable Greenbird vehicle parked on our back lawn right now (until Thursday). It’s the fastest wind-powered vehicle on Earth, having won the record back in March. 126 miles per hour! Here’s the record-breaking craft: The need for speed can still be met in the new carbon-aware age. Here was a team who’d built a vehicle powered only by wind yet reaching speeds that wouldn’t be too shabby for many petrol cars. I spoke to Richard Jenkins, the […]

Last time I was recalling Louis Blériot’s historic crossing of the Channel a century ago. That got me thinking about other memorable sea crossings. Ninety years ago, John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown were the first people to cross the Atlantic by air, non-stop. Their Vickers ‘Vimy’ craft, pictured here, is on show in our Flight gallery: The first solo crossing was by Charles Lindbergh eight years later. Then there was a flight of the Friendship in June 1928 which […]

Flying over to mainland Europe this summer on holiday? Last Saturday (25 July 2009) was the centenary of Louis Blériot’s historic flight across the Channel – the first ever successful flight across a major body of water in a heavier-than-air craft. It took a little over half-an-hour, and it won the French aviator the Daily Mail’s coveted prize of £1000 (about £60,000 in today’s money) for doing so, beating rivals Charles de Lambert and Hubert Latham. Here’s Blériot posing for […]

What have you always wanted to ask a curator? You might have a question about the Science Museum’s exhibitions or galleries, about our collections, library and archives, or more general questions about life in a museum. Leave a comment and we’ll try to find the answer for you.

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