History by Design


Bruce Chalmers was welcomed as a guest today but intends to become a full member.

The meeting was well attended with 42 members and 1 guest.


Today Chris Freeman gave a talk entitled “History by Design”, in which he demonstrated (with examples) the links between history and modern day inventions. He pointed out that the two booster rockets on the side of the space shuttle were proportionately long and thin when the designers really would have liked them to be shorter and fatter. These boosters were built away from the launch site and had to be transported by train. But the track and loading gauge are restricted by the 4’ 8 1/2” standard, so the booster had to be long and thin to go through the tunnels. But why is the track so narrow when Brunel had suggested a 7’ gauge. Well, the people who were manufacturing the new railway carriages were keen to use the standard jigs they were using for stage coach bogies and wheels. And the standard stage coach wheel gauge came originally from the width of a Roman Chariot.

He went on to show how winglets on modern jet aeroplane have been developed as a result of observing eagles soaring and turning. And that the bulbous bows on modern container ships are direct copies from the anatomy of dolphins and porpoises.

There was ample time for questions at the end of the talk and a lively discussion ensued regarding the correlation between ships speed, length and draught.

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