The airplane of the future

A simple white paper napkin depicts the future: at an informal dinner with aviation professionals the lead technical design engineer of Boeing sketches his personal vision of the airplane of the future, which is so futuristic that it even outranges the companies conceptual airplane. Any minute when a plane is not flying is a waste of money – the goal is to minimise the downtime. Leading airline companies already try to have their birds in the air around the clock. What still takes time is passenger boarding and de-boarding from an aircraft. Since there is no way to beam the humans aboard, the creative engineer found another solution to save time. In his futuristic vision, an airplane consists of a movable compartment, a ‘container’, where all passengers can be seated in a comfortable way before the plane has even landed. After embarking, while the passengers already enjoy their welcome drink, the whole compartment will be safely moved and secured to the fuselage, which consists mainly of one big airfoil with the engines.

Facilitating researcher mobility

One of the recurrent themes at the Vitae Researcher Development Conference 2010 was how to better facilitate the movement of researchers throughout the European Union. Representing the British Council, Dr Claire McNulty’s conference workshop, Research as an International Career, broadened the discussion to how to encourage and make easier the transition for scientists moving between continents, as well as between countries that are geographically, but not politically European nations.

Is Europe in the space race?

There are a surprising number of European countries with space programmes, especially if compared to the days of the cold war when the US and USSR led the race. Germany (DLR), France (CNES), the Netherlands (SRON), Norway (NSC), and Sweden (SNSB) all have current projects underway, as well as the umbrella pan-European organisation, ESA, which has 18 member states and six cooperating states, which includes, interestingly, Canada.