The Anonymous Widower

The Schoolgirl Who Helped To Win A War

The title of this post, is the same as a programme to be shown on the BBC News Channel, this weekend.

Seeing the trailers on the BBC this morning, I am reminded of my mother, who was my mathematical parent. The girl in the story is Hazel Hill, who was the daughter of Captain Frederick William Hill, who worked on armaments research.

My mother would be a few years older than Hazel and won a scholarship to one of the best girls schools in London at the time; Dame Alice Owen’s, which  was then in Islington.

I get the impression, that contrary to perceived opinion, that in the 1920s and 1930s, girls with aptitude were well-schooled in practical mathematics.

I’d be very interested to know, where Hazel Hill went to school.

I shall watch the programme.

July 10, 2020 Posted by | World | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Toilet Paper Calculator

Have you ever wondered how many toilet rolls you need to buy?

Those clever mathematicians at Omni, have now come up with a Toilet Paper Calculator.

It’s just one of their suite of Coronavirus Calculators.

I use their other calculators regularly.

This suite of calculators have a slightly humorous edge, that I find acceptable in these troubling times.

May 15, 2020 Posted by | Health, World | , , , | Leave a comment

My Past Is Worrying Me!

It must have been in the early 1970s, when I was acting as a mathematical-modelling consultant.

I was asked to do some modelling by a major drug company of the propagation of a virus through the UK population.

Their aim was to show how serious these pandemics could be and they wanted to get substantial grants from the Government to fund various lines of research.

With their data and the model I built, we were able to show how a dangerous pandemic could evolve.

But I never found out how successful they were in obtaining the money needed to start the research!

It does look like this pandemic could be the one that researchers at the company were predicting nearly fifty years ago.

March 13, 2020 Posted by | Computing, Health | , , , | 2 Comments

Could Modern Energy Systems Have A Secondary Role?

Close to where I live is a small heat and power system, that I wrote about in The Bunhill Energy Centre.

I first went over the centre during Open House.

Several of these modern systems are very good demonstrations of the principles of maths, physics and engineering.

So do these innovative energy systems do their bit in educating the next generation of scientists and engineers?

Some of the modern systems, that are in development like Highview Power’s energy storage using liquid air would be ideal for a secondary education role!

Most too, are very safe, as there are no dangerous processes or substances.

And in the next few years, there will be more systems all over the country and many in the hearts of towns and cities. Some schools, colleges and especially universities, will have their own innovative energy sources.

Liverpool University already has a system, which is described here.

January 16, 2020 Posted by | Energy Storage | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Lonely Electric Bus

I found this bus at its terminus by the old Barts Hospital.

It is an Alexander Dennis Enviro200ev.

They are built in Britain on a Chinese chassis from BYD.

This week, I read the obituary of Simon Norton, who was a mathematician, who had an interest in group theory and bus routes and timetables.

He could have worked out a strategy, of how to keep London’s fleet of electric buses fully charged.

Consider.

  • London’s single-deck routes are generally the shorter ones, so are probably ideal for electric buses.
  • My instinct is telling me, that if all small buses were to be replaced with electric ones, the tight network would show up places for charging points.
  • Would some be at the end of routes and some where several routes crossed?

It would be a fun calculation.

I suspect, I would solve it using a graphical method.

March 10, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

More About Steamology Motion

In Grants To Support Low-Carbon Technology Demonstrators, I talked about a company called Steamology, who were given a grant by the Department for Transport to develop a method of converting hydrogen into energy.

The company is called Steamology Motion and in Issue 872 of Rail Magazine more details are given in an article, which is entitled DFT Hands Out £350,000 Each To Five Rail Green Schemes.

This is said in the article.

Steamology Motion, the final recipient, aims to create a new zero-emmissions power train for a Vivarail Class 230 train. The W2W system generates steam from compressed hydrogen and oxygen stored in tanks. The steam then drives a turbine to generate electricity.

The concept is aimed at being a ‘range extender’ able to charge onboard battery packs.

My mathematical modelling skills for this type of system have never been strong, but I’m sure that others will know how much hydrogen and oxygen are needed to charge a 200 kWh battery.

  • A quick search of the Internet reveals that small steam turbines could be available
  • I very much suspect, that as the system is a ‘range extender’, rather than a power unit to take the train hundreds of miles, that the physical size of the gas tanks will be smaller than those proposed by Alston for their hydrogen conversion of a Class 321 train.

I also don’t think that the DfT would have given £350,000 to the company, if the the physics and the mathematics weren’t credible.

Conclusion

If this technology is successful, I suspect it could have other applications.

February 11, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mathematics Of Energy Storage

I am particularly talking about the sort of energy storage that is attracting the attention of Energy Storage Funds, that I wrote about in Batteries On The Boil As Fund Attracts Investors.

The Times article of the same name has this paragraph.

A typical 50-megawatt energy storage site of the kind the company intends to acquire hosts 19 containers each housing thousands of lithium-ion cells. A fully-charged container has the energy to boil 32,000 kettles.

This page on ConfusedEnergy.co.uk, says this.

We are often told to only use as much water as we need in a kettle and not to fill it to the top, but what are the potential annual saving in doing this. Well it takes roughly 4.5 minutes to boil a full (2 litre) kettle with a power rating of 3kW (kilowatts).

This means that to boil a kettle needs 0.225 kWh.

  • Boiling 32,000 kettles needs 7200 kWh or 7.2 MWh
  • Which means that the total capacity of the nineteen container energy storage facility is 136.8 MWh.

So the energy storage could provide the rated 50 MW for nearly three hours.

Lithium-Ion Batteries, Supercapacitors Or Both?

The article in The Times doesn’t mention supercapacitors.

If you watch the video in A Must-Watch Video About Skeleton Technologies And Ultracapacitors, Skeleton Technologies state the following about their ultracapacitors.

  • They are more affordable.
  • They generate less heat.
  • They have a higher energy density.
  • They can handle more charge/discharge cycles.
  • They have a faster response time, so would respond better to sudden demands.

I suspect there may be several operational and financial advantages, in replacing some of the lithium-ion batteries with supercapacitors.

 

 

November 10, 2018 Posted by | Energy Storage | , , | Leave a comment

Faster London Trains Could Make Your Commute Even Longer

I have spent much of my working life calculating the dynamics of systems, be they complex sets of calculations for a Bank, the solving of massive sets of differential equations or calculating how many days, hours and minutes a project will take and how many pounds, groats or donkeys it will consume.

So when I saw an article in New Scientist with the title of this post, I had to read it.

You should!

In my modelling of complex systems, nearly fifty years ago, I used state-of-the-art, digital and analogue computers to model complex interactions in chemical reactions and plants. In more than one case the answer that was obtained was unexpected.

But then you can’t argue your feelings against thoroughly correct mathematical equations!

The same is happening in this transport example. Your feelings may say faster trains will get you there quicker, but properly modelled it would appear that the reverse may be true.

One thing that may be true in some places, is that adding new stations to a line reduces the time taken to commute.

So sometimes residents wanting a new station near their houses, may just be right!

Only a rigorous mathematical model will tell the truth!

Leeds seems to have an ambitious station  building program, whereas only one new station;Lea Bridge, is being built in London.

And intriguingly in London, Crossrail is being built with only one new station; Woolwich, although some are being substantially rebuilt!

I hope they’ve done their modelling extensively enough!

September 10, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , | 2 Comments

Clever Tricks Improve Breast Scans

I like this story from the BBC’s web site.

One of the keys to fighting cancer is good diagnosis and the article shows how being clever with scientific, engineering and mathematical tricks, X-rays can be improved.

We’ll see a lot more of this type of innovation in the next few years and it’ll help in all sorts of fields and not just medicine.

December 3, 2012 Posted by | Health | , , , | Leave a comment

Bad Maths

I’m 65 this year.  Could my generation’s everyday maths, be better, as we had to cope with £sd? When I served in a bar in the 1960s, you learned things like 3 bottles of Guinness at 1s. 8d. were 5s. You had to do it all mentally, as the till was just a drawer.

I also played a lot of cribbage and other card games.  Many of which need a certain amount of arithmetical dexterity.  So have computer games lost all this?

But in some ways my biggest advantage was that my mother had very good arithmetical skills, partly brought on as she had been a comptometer operator before and during the Second World War, at Reeves just down the road from where I now live. So when we travelled in the car, she would always set me puzzles.

Interestingly, comptometer is rejected by the computerised spelling on this computer and WordPress.

May 22, 2012 Posted by | Computing, News | , , | 3 Comments