Each week, Professor Jim Al-Khalili talks to leading scientists about their life and work, finding out what inspires and motivates them and asking what their discoveries might do for mankind. This week he talked to Professor Ann Dowling about mathematics, engines and how she always wanted to do something useful.
"There is a saying, that may surpise many, that says engineers save more lives than medics"
Professor Dowling, and her team worked on The 'Silent' Aircraft Initiative which had a bold aim - to develop a conceptual design for an aircraft whose noise would be almost imperceptible outside the perimeter of a daytime urban airport. This required radically different aircraft and engine designs. Professor Dowling and her team proved it is possible to build an aircraft that barely makes any noise. A brilliant mathematician and a keen pilot, Professor Dowling now heads the Department of Engineering here at the University of Cambridge, one of the largest engineering departments in Europe. Her design for a silent aircraft could improve the quality of life for millions of people living near airports worldwide: so does she mind that it never got off the ground?
To listen to the interview visit: www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01m5gth