Letter: Physics rules

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Sir: Last Saturday's essay by Stephen Bayley, "Popularity is fine, but it's not what makes art great" (Weekend Review, 26 September), gave the immediate impression of prejudice parading as knowledge. At bottom aesthetics is a matter of opinion, and with many fewer objective considerations than are relevant to engineering and related fields of activity, where the laws of physics cannot be ignored.

The unfortunate "brute" engineer who raised Bayley's ire would doubtless, and justifiably, claim that an equally lengthy period of study was required to produce a design such as the street light under discussion, but with all the restrictions required by the relevant laws of physics.

Despite Bayley's enthusiasm for the "subtle and complex aesthetic considerations that went into the design [of the Ford Focus]", modern car body design is determined in detail in the wind tunnel as much by the laws of aerodynamics as by the designer. The similarity of families of modern cars is neither coincidence nor plagiarism but simply the recognition of the paramountcy of aerodynamics in securing fuel economy.


Crookham, Hampshire