Supersonic car at Farnborough Air Show: science class at Mach speed

The supersonic car 'Bloodhound' at the Farnborough Air Show is a math and science teaching tool in 30 countries already as students learn what it takes to roll through the sound barrier.

By , Correspondent

  • close
    The Bloodhound SSC is seen traveling at speed in this undated artists impression, received in London October 2008. The supersonic car becomes a teaching tool at the Farnborough Air Show.
    View Caption

From 0 to 1,000 miles per hour in 40 seconds. From Los Angeles to New York City in 2-1/2 hours. It’s a bird. It’s a plane. No, it’s a… car?

It’s the world’s fastest car, actually. And along with getting from Point A to Point B faster than the speed of sound, it is sparking students’ interest in math and science.

Though untested, the Bloodhound SSC unveiled a life-size, 42-foot-long model this week at the Farnborough International Air Show in Britain. Perhaps more important, the car is part of an initiative to bring real-life math and science into the classroom and inspire a new generation of engineers.

Recommended: STEM Heroines: Math role models for girls

Bringing velocity to 3,471 schools

Bloodhound project director Richard Noble says the idea was born out of concern that most of Britain’s mathematicians and scientists were between 40 and 60 years old.

“You’ve also got the problem big-time in the US, you know,” says Dr. Noble in a telephone interview from the Air Show, referencing how American students lag behind many of their international peers in math and science.

The Bloodhound Education Program aims to change that. It brings concepts such as velocity and acceleration into the classroom through questions geared around the supersonic car. With vetting from Britain's National Foundation for Educational Research and collaboration from California-based Intel Corp., the program is already taught in 30 countries worldwide, including the United States and Canada, and throughout Britain in 3,471 primary and secondary schools, 229 colleges, and 40 universities.

“When you get your math lessons from a 1,000-m.p.h. car, it’s much more exciting,” says Bloodhound project spokesman Julius Tipler. “They’re bringing the science lessons to life.”

Hooked on engineering

Noble himself is an example of how exciting interactions with math and science can put young students on the path toward engineering. When he was 5 years old, he says, his father took him to see British racing motorist John Cobb attempt to break the water speed record at Scotland's Loch Ness in 1952. Noble, a Scot, was hooked for life.

“I had to build a jet car,” he recalls, and in 1997 he teamed up with test driver Andy Green to set the land speed record at 763 m.p.h. in the rocket-powered ThrustSSC. It still holds the record.

“We thought we probably had time to do one more of these,” says Noble, now 64 years old.

Attracting sponsors

The Bloodhound is powered by two engines: a Eurofighter Typhoon jet engine sends it to 100 m.p.h., and then a hybrid rocket kicks in to send it 10 times faster. British rocket scientist Daniel Jubb designed the hybrid rocket.

Its appearance at the Farnborough International Air Show has already attracted three new sponsors for the Bloodhound project. Money is coming in and interest is ramping up. And with the world’s leading rocket scientists on the project, Bloodhound is planning to challenge the world record in early 2012.

“We know we have the right power,” says Mr. Tipler, the spokesman. “We know we have the right shape. We’ve done all the math. We know we can do it.”


Share this story:

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.




eZ debug

Clear cache:

Quick settings:

Timing: Jul 09 2014 14:19:10
Script start
Timing: Jul 09 2014 14:19:10
Module start 'content'
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 14:19:10
Undefined offset: 0 in /var/www/ on line 1190
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 14:19:10
Undefined offset: 0 in /var/www/ on line 1190
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 14:19:10
Undefined index: path in /var/www/ on line 158
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 14:19:10
Undefined index: path in /var/www/ on line 175
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 14:19:10
Undefined index: path in /var/www/ on line 158
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 14:19:10
Undefined index: path in /var/www/ on line 175
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 14:19:10
Undefined index: meta_class_identifier_ms in /var/www/ on line 111
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 14:19:10
Undefined index: meta_class_identifier_ms in /var/www/ on line 111
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 14:19:10
Undefined index: meta_class_identifier_ms in /var/www/ on line 111
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 14:19:10
Undefined index: meta_class_identifier_ms in /var/www/ on line 111
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 14:19:10
Undefined index: meta_remote_id_ms in /var/www/ on line 1028
Warning: eZTemplate:def @ extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/templates/content/datatype/view/ezbyline.tpl:10[1] Jul 09 2014 14:19:10
Variable 'story_source' is already defined.
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 14:19:10
Undefined index: meta_class_identifier_ms in /var/www/ on line 111
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 14:19:10
Undefined index: meta_remote_id_ms in /var/www/ on line 1028
Timing: Jul 09 2014 14:19:10
Module end 'content'
Timing: Jul 09 2014 14:19:10
Before parse_includes
Strict: PHP: E_STRICT Jul 09 2014 14:19:10
Non-static method MugoViewExtras::get_view_extras() should not be called statically, assuming $this from incompatible context in /var/www/ on line 37
Warning: eZTemplate:def @ extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/override/templates/extra/archive.tpl:21[1] Jul 09 2014 14:19:10
Variable 'view_extra_node' is already defined.
Timing: Jul 09 2014 14:19:10
After parse_includes
Timing: Jul 09 2014 14:19:10

Timing points:

CheckpointElapsedRel. ElapsedMemoryRel. Memory
Script start 0.0000 sec0.0169 sec 1,286.1563 KB1,162.2344 KB
Module start 'content' 0.0169 sec2.0886 sec 2,448.3906 KB12,653.4609 KB
Module end 'content' 2.1055 sec0.0172 sec 15,101.8516 KB397.6797 KB
Before parse_includes 2.1227 sec0.0485 sec 15,499.5313 KB274.0703 KB
After parse_includes 2.1712 sec0.0008 sec 15,773.6016 KB-184.8203 KB
End 2.1720 sec  15,588.7813 KB 
Total runtime:2.1779 sec
Peak memory usage:21,575.2266 KB

Time accumulators:

 Accumulator Elapsed Percent Count Average
Load cache0.0088 sec0.4031%370.0002 sec
Mysql Total
Mysqli_queries0.3456 sec15.8478%2340.0015 sec
Looping result0.0609 sec2.7915%2230.0003 sec
Template Total2.1223 sec 97.3% 8 0.2653 sec
Template load0.0068 sec0.3130%80.0009 sec
Template processing2.1153 sec96.9934%80.2644 sec
Template load and register function0.0003 sec0.0145%40.0001 sec
state_id_array0.0104 sec0.4789%170.0006 sec
state_identifier_array0.0141 sec0.6448%240.0006 sec
Cache load0.0069 sec0.3160%1190.0001 sec
eZ Find
Search0.2093 sec9.5967%20.1046 sec
Query build0.0062 sec0.2833%10.0062 sec
Class attribute list0.0723 sec3.3137%10.0723 sec
Engine time0.0371 sec1.7025%10.0371 sec
MoreLikeThis0.0000 sec0.0000%00.0000 sec
Sytem overhead
Fetch class attribute can translate value0.0011 sec0.0507%40.0003 sec
Fetch class attribute name0.0003 sec0.0130%120.0000 sec
Image XML parsing0.0180 sec0.8232%40.0045 sec
Instantiating content class attribute0.0001 sec0.0066%140.0000 sec
String conversion0.0000 sec0.0017%30.0000 sec
dbfile0.0099 sec0.4562%850.0001 sec
View Extra building0.0119 sec0.5455%40.0030 sec
Total script time:2.1808 sec

CSS/JS files loaded with "ezjscPacker" during request:


Templates used to render the page:

UsageRequested templateTemplateTemplate loadedEditOverride
1node/view/full.tplfull/article.tplextension/csm_base/design/csm_design/override/templates/full/article.tplEdit templateOverride template
22content/datatype/view/ezxmltags/paragraph.tpl<No override>extension/ezwebin/design/ezwebin/templates/content/datatype/view/ezxmltags/paragraph.tplEdit templateOverride template
3content/datatype/view/ezimage.tpl<No override>extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/templates/content/datatype/view/ezimage.tplEdit templateOverride template
24content/datatype/view/ezxmltags/link.tpl<No override>extension/csm_base/design/standard/templates/content/datatype/view/ezxmltags/link.tplEdit templateOverride template
6content/datatype/view/ezxmltags/header.tpl<No override>design/standard/templates/content/datatype/view/ezxmltags/header.tplEdit templateOverride template
8content/datatype/view/ezxmltags/strong.tpl<No override>design/standard/templates/content/datatype/view/ezxmltags/strong.tplEdit templateOverride template
6content/datatype/view/ezxmltags/li.tpl<No override>design/standard/templates/content/datatype/view/ezxmltags/li.tplEdit templateOverride template
2content/datatype/view/ezxmltags/ul.tpl<No override>design/standard/templates/content/datatype/view/ezxmltags/ul.tplEdit templateOverride template
1content/datatype/view/ezstring.tpl<No override>design/standard/templates/content/datatype/view/ezstring.tplEdit templateOverride template
1content/datatype/view/ezxmltext.tpl<No override>design/standard/templates/content/datatype/view/ezxmltext.tplEdit templateOverride template
1content/datatype/view/ezbyline.tpl<No override>extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/templates/content/datatype/view/ezbyline.tplEdit templateOverride template
1content/datatype/view/ezobjectrelationlist.tplcontent/datatype/view/story_images.tplextension/csm_base/design/csm_design/override/templates/content/datatype/view/story_images.tplEdit templateOverride template
1content/datatype/view/eztext.tpl<No override>design/standard/templates/content/datatype/view/eztext.tplEdit templateOverride template
1content/datatype/view/ezstring.tplcontent/datatype/view/image_credit.tplextension/csm_base/design/csm_design/override/templates/content/datatype/view/image_credit.tplEdit templateOverride template
1content/datatype/view/ezxmltext.tplcontent/datatype/view/story_info_box.tplextension/csm_base/design/csm_design/override/templates/content/datatype/view/story_info_box.tplEdit templateOverride template
1content/datatype/view/ezmatrix.tplcontent/datatype/view/ezmatrix_article_related_external_links.tplextension/csm_base/design/csm_design/override/templates/content/datatype/view/ezmatrix_article_related_external_links.tplEdit templateOverride template
1pagelayout.tpl<No override>extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/templates/pagelayout.tplEdit templateOverride template
1modules/mugo_view_extras/extra_cached.tpl<No override>extension/mugo_view_extras/design/standard/templates/modules/mugo_view_extras/extra_cached.tplEdit templateOverride template
1setup/debug_toolbar.tpl<No override>design/standard/templates/setup/debug_toolbar.tplEdit templateOverride template
 Number of times templates used: 83
 Number of unique templates used: 19
 Time used to render template usage: 0.0005 secs