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Audi, pardner, from up here in space.

Byline: By Ben Goldby

It's going to be one small step for man and one giant leap for a West Midlands space enthusiast.

Staffordshire science buff Ian Anderson was celebrating last night after winning a trip to outer space in a magazine competition.

Mr Anderson, 32, a data analyst, of Armitage, Staffordshire, entered a contest in New Scientist and beat 2,500 rivals to claim the trip of a lifetime. Readers had to select the "best invention of all time" and write about their choice. Mr Anderson (below) argued the case for radio, explaining that it had opened up new scientific horizons which have transformed the world. He plans to take his wife along to watch his rocket launch, scheduled for 2009. "I used to dream of being an astronaut as a child, so this really is a dream come true," he said.

"I am not scared about going into space because I've done a lot of flying and I was in the Air Flying Corps as a teenager. I've also done some gliding. I think the most exciting part is that so few people have done what I am going to do. But I'm really looking forward to the flight itself, the fact that I'm going to be above the atmosphere, and the views of Earth. You see it on TV, but to view it myself will be incredible."

The competition, jointly run by New Scientist and car manufacturers Audi, promised the winner a thrilling ride 62 miles above the Earth aboard the Xerus rocket plane. The craft has not yet flown, but is due to be ready for Mr Anderson's trip.

It is being developed by the Californian rocket company XCOR Aerospace. The rocket only has room for the pilot and one passenger and looks like a miniature space shuttle.

Mr Anderson entered the contest five times, but judges were most impressed with his impassioned argument for the humble radio. His other essays were in support of the induction motor, antibiotics, anaesthetics and energy-saving light bulbs. The winner and runners-up were chosen from the entries which showed the most imaginative arguments in favour of different inventions.

Mr Anderson, who has a degree in polymer science from Birmingham University and a PhD in Chemistry from Durham, explained how radio had been a catalyst for some of the biggest technological advances of the 20th century, including television, radar, mobile phones and hospital scanners.

He said the chemistry qualification helped him to fill in details on the more exotic uses of radio, such as in 3D imaging and magnetic resonance. His winning entry read: "Of all the inventions of the 20th century radio has done the most to promote world peace - helping to bring us all closer together, bridging distances at the speed of light and making the world seem much smaller than it actually is. It is our entertainment, our communication, our lifeline and the greatest patented invention of all time. One day it may also be our telephone to the stars."

Jeremy Webb, editor of New Scientist, said: "Anderson was simply the best. He gave a justification that goes way beyond what we normally associate with radio. Everything from medical scanners to mobile phones relies on radio; during the last war it gave us radar and afterwards it opened a new window on the universe with radio astronomy. It was the best of a very good bunch." Runner-up entries paid homage to inventions including the steam engine, the camera, internet search engines, the silicon chip, and the tin can.

The competition is partly to promote the new Audi A6, which has a history of 9,621 patents compared with the 6,509 filed to date by NASA.

CAPTION(S):

And on your right, Mr Anderson, is in Armitage, in Staffordshire, in the Midlands, in England, in Britain, on Earth
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:May 31, 2007
Words:640
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