This year’s theme for British Science Week is ‘Change’. As management consultants, we are responsible for ensuring change happens every time we step on client site, and we like to make sure that change sticks when we leave. Here are nine fascinating change projects that will either push the boundaries of science or be made possible by science this year, and we’d love to be involved in just one of them:
Event Horizon Telescope
In one of the most exciting and complex projects ever undertaken, scientists will attempt to take the first ever picture of a black hole in April of this year. By linking radio receivers from all around the globe, to create an “Earth-sized telescope”, they will hopefully achieve this unfathomable feat. In addition to producing an incredibly cool image, this may also test Einstein’s general theory of relativity and throw our understanding of gravity into disarray.
The first project we can thank Elon Musk for on this list, Hyperloop is potentially the future of freight and passenger transportation. It would work by propelling pods round low-pressure tubes at speeds in excess of 600mph; that’s faster than air travel?! As well as reducing travel times significantly, they are also promising it will be as cheap as a bus ticket. Although we won’t all be climbing into pods and tubes anytime soon, the project has started to gain some real momentum at the start of this year.
An engineering masterclass, the original London sewerage system was completed in 1865. Fast forward 150 years, the system is no longer capable of coping with the sewerage needs of the capital’s bulging population. When completed in 2023, the Thames Tideway Tunnel will stretch 16 miles under the Thames and prevent sewerage from spilling out and polluting the river.
Second Avenue Subway
First planned in 1919, you wouldn’t have been wrong in thinking that this addition to the New York Subway system was a myth that was never going to happen. But after almost 100 years, the wait was finally over on 1st January of this year as they opened the first phase of the project. The new service will ease crowding on the existing Subway lines and serve over 200,000 people. The whole project is not yet finished however, and three more phases are in the pipeline. With fresh optimism and momentum, 2017 is the year to push on into phase two.
There seem to be a million and one driverless car projects at the moment, so I think it’s safe to say that they are no longer a fictional idea and we will all have our own personal chauffeur in the not too distance future. Uber, Ford, BMW and Google are just a small selection of companies that are actively testing and making great progress with their respective projects. UK road testing will commence this year.
Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge
That just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? This huge infrastructure project will connect the three main cities on the River Pearl Delta using a series of tunnels and bridges. When finished, the bridge will bring the travel distance from Hong Kong to Macau and Zhuhai down from 100 miles to just 20, significantly reducing travel times and easing the reliance on water transport in the area. Originally due to open in 2016, the revised completion date is now December 2017.
Another project which seems to have been stuck at the station for a number of years, the High Speed Rail link project has been rife with issues since its conception. However, the project received Royal Assent at the end of February and now it should be full speed ahead. It promises to be “the world’s most advanced passenger railway and the backbone of our rail network”.
Robotics and Artificial Intelligence
Much like driverless cars, the news is seemingly full of robotics and artificial intelligence projects; be it Dyson and Waitrose investing in new technology or that all of our jobs will be replaced by robots imminently. The overriding theme seems to be automation and driving efficiency through automation, which everyone would agree is a good thing. Progress is being made at an astounding rate, but there’s still a lot more to be achieved before you have an artificially intelligent robot running your business.
Founded by the previously mentioned Elon Musk, Space X is looking to push the boundaries of space travel, with the ultimate goal of colonising on mars. 2017 will be a huge year for Space X as they finalise their plans to send two fee-paying “tourists” on a week-long journey around the moon next year?! We hope they’ve got an exceedingly good risk manager in the company.