Saturday, January 11, 2014

pneumatic dispatches for 2013

2013 was another wonderful year of pneumatic discoveries, marking the fourth year of this blog. A highlight was certainly my tour of the Hortig pneumatic tube factory in Bayreuth Germany, documented in a series of posts about the beginnings of the adventure, the workshop, sounds of the factory and the testing room (with more posts from this tour possibly to come). I also had a fantastic tour of a Melbourne Hospital pneumatic tube system, and others also had tours of pneumatic tube systems guided by Atlas Obscura.

Another exciting moment in 2013 was being interviewed by Jacob Aron for an article in New Scientist about pneumatic tube systems. His article was published around the time that pneumatic tubes made general news, when Elon Musk announced his intentions to revolutionize transport with his Hyperloop system. Many reporters compared the Hyperlink to pneumatic tube systems (although it somewhat different, it is in a tube). Fans of pneumatic tube systems were aware of course that this is not such a new idea, with VacTrains and Atmospheric Railways previously capturing the imagination of engineers.

Last year saw a few art installations such as PNEUMAtic circUS, a networked postal art project curated by Vittore Baroni, and the basement oracle in Madison Central Library, as well as DIY projects such as one cool dad's home built pneumatic tube system for tooth fairy transportation. I also attempted the beginnings of a list of pneumatic tubes in fiction, which I updated as the year progressed, sometimes finding mention of the tube in surprising locations (Mr Ian McEwan). More detailed posts were written about Fahrenheit 451, The Atmospheric Railway and The Innocent.

There were also posts throughout the year about pneumatic tubes in newsrooms, dancehalls and cafes. And finally, who could forget the unfortunate Tesco's duty manager who got his arm caught in the supermarket's tube system, not the first it seems, with others also finding their limbs sucked into a pneumatic system.

Image my own from fieldwork in Melbourne, Australia.

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