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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Very fast cars

You may not have heard of Richard Noble and Andy Green, which is a shame because you really should have.  Richard is a former land speed record holder with Thrust2 (1983-1997) and Andy Green is the current land speed record holder with Thrust SSC (1997-present). Both projects represent the best of British innovation, technical expertise and sheer bloody-minded determination.

They are now engaged in the Bloodhound SSC project which aims to propel Andy in their new car to a speed in excess of 1,000 mph on the Hakskeen Pan in South Africa in 2013.  But this time speed is not their only aim.  Bloodhound's full mission statement is here but in short they are aiming to inspire a new generation of scientists, engineers and mathematicians and to reverse the decline in the study of STEM subjects in schools and universities.  

They already have 4,500 schools signed up to the project but have yet to exploit the full potential of the internet.  My involvement with the project will be to help pull together the informal and social learning aspects and to create a virtual learning community for STEM subjects under the Bloodhound banner.

Whilst I won't be the one strapped into a metal tube with a Eurofighter jet engine and Falcon rocket, I have a feeling this is going to be an exciting ride.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

What I learnt on my holidays

It's been a while.

As a friend pointed out to me with a certain degree of relish only yesterday, I am not likely to have a holiday this long again until I retire and given the parlous state of the nation's finances I may never be allowed to retire...

Nonetheless, I have had the most wonderful summer!

I took my daughter and Becci across Europe for the best part of two months and came back tanned and engaged (neither of which tends to happen to middle-aged redheads too easily).

But this is supposed to be a blog about learning, so what have I learnt in my extended vacation?

If you want to learn, you must accept responsibility.  If you blame other people for setbacks, which is often all too easy, you are unlikely to change yourself for the better.  The difficult bit is accepting your part without getting stuck and dwelling on it.  Learning is hard work and the alternatives are often significantly more attractive but perhaps without the long term rewards.

Happiness is as much an attitude as an emotion.  What I mean is, it is as much about what you do as it is what is done to you.  If you simply sit around waiting for a winning emotional lottery ticket you are more likely to go without.

I also learnt never to leave a cool-box plugged into your car battery overnight if you want to catch the boat home.