Engineering at the speed of light

2.30pm to 4.00pm, Sunday 2 September

The Theatre

The Royal Institution of Great Britain GB United Kingdom W1S 4BS 21 Albemarle Street London

This event has already taken place

  • How can an understanding of our complex universe help engineer the future?

    Credit: Walter via Flickr


Standard £16


Concession £10


Ri Members and Ri Patrons £7

Event description

Anita Sengupta is a hyperloop engineer and former NASA rocket scientist, working at the extremes of her field, from studying quantum physics in the space station to building 1000km/h hyperloop transport systems. Join Anita to hear the story of how understanding the complexity of the Universe, from the subatomic scale to dark matter and dark energy, can help us develop the technology of the future.

About the speaker

Dr Anita Sengupta is a rocket scientist and aerospace engineer who for over 20 years has been developing technologies that have enabled the exploration of Mars, Asteroids, and Deep Space. She started her career working on the Delta IV launch vehicle at Boeing Space Systems. Her doctoral research at NASA focused on the development of the ion engine technology that powered the Dawn spacecraft to reach Vesta and Ceres in the main asteroid belt. She was then responsible for the supersonic parachute system that was integral to the landing of NASA's Curiosity Rover on Mars in 2012. From 2012 to 2017, she led the development of NASA's Cold Atom Laboratory, a laser-cooling quantum physics facility which is now on board the International Space Station. In 2017 she joined the executive team of Virgin Hyperloop One, as Senior Vice President of Systems Engineering. Anita and her team are designing and readying for human use, a new mode of transportation know as the hyperloop. This magnetically levitating, electromagnetically propelled, passenger transport system in a vacuum tube, is the first new mode of transportation in over one hundred years. It can best be desribed as a spacecraft travelling on the ground. The hyperloop has the ability to revolutionize transportation with speeds up to 1000 kph and a low carbon footprint operating entirely off of grid based power.

Dr Sengupta received her MS and PhD in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Southern California, where she teaches spacecraft, entry, and landing system design for planetary exploration. In her spare time she is an avid pilot, motorcyclist, scuba diver, snowboarder, runner, public speaker, and science fiction fan.


The doors will open at approximately 2.00pm, with a prompt start at 2.30pm. There will be time for questions after the talk.

Latecomers will be admitted into the gallery.


This event will be filmed and on the Ri's YouTube channel within a few months. Subscribe for free to hear when new videos are released.

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