Wednesday, August 29, 2012

medicine and literature

A new issue of Granta is out which may interest some readers of this blog. It not only has a beautiful cover - evoking, amongst many things, Carl Zimmer's science ink - but also a wonderful range of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and photoessays.

Depending on where you live, there are a festival of events to coincide with the issue, such as "A Spoonful of Fiction" at The Last Tuesday Society (admission price includes the Granta issue and a Hendrick's gin and tonic - see also other lectures in this series, including Sam Alberti's upcoming history of medical museum and the field trip to St Bart's pathology museum) and other events in London at the Wellcome Library, The Freud Museum, The Horse Hospital and the Hospital Club.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

opening the tubes up to tourists

Pneumatic tube aficionados visiting Prague in the near future should be interested to know that the pneumatic post system there has recently been purchased by Zdenek Drazil from Windcom, who plans, according to the Prague Daily Monitor, to "revitalise it and use it in education as well as a tourist attraction at Prague Castle".

And it seems that those longing to send their mail by pneumatic post may have a chance to relive this experience if the venture goes ahead. Drazil says, "I would like the principles (of the pneumatic post) to be used in teaching the physical principles to students. I am also sure that the terminal at Prague Castle in the spaces of Ceska posta could be successful. Tourists could inspect it and send a postcard or a letter through it". Reason enough indeed for a visit!

Image of Prague tube station from m4r00n3d's photostream

Sunday, August 19, 2012

golden postboxes

Just like the golden chocolate wrappers in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Royal Mail (and a few interlopers) have sprinkled gold dust on several postboxes around England, to celebrate their medals in the Olympics.

What a golden time to send a letter!

Image from eltpic's Flikr photostream.

Monday, August 13, 2012

objects, things and stuff

A conference for the lovers of material culture, or in other words, things and stuff.

The Lives of Objects
September 2013
The Oxford Centre for Life-Writing (OCLW)
Wolfson College, Oxford

"Everything from scientific instruments, technological artefacts, mementos, mundane and domestic items, and aesthetic creations such as sculpture and portraiture can provide clues to lives lived, and this conference will go beyond biography to investigate the lives of objects and the relation of those objects to human lives".

See the webpage for more details - - and for a wonderful English ethnography of material culture/stuff and what this tells us about people, see Daniel Miller's The Comfort of Things.

Image from conference website.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

winding dizzying putkiposti

I have just finished yet another great Norwegian novel, and one more awaits, freshly picked up from the library. At night I am watching The Bridge, halfway between Sweden and Denmark. Soon I will be in Copenhagen. What can I find out about Scandinavian pneumatic tubes in the meantime?

While pneumatic tube systems do not seem to be as resplendent in Scandinavian cities as they are in other European places, there are still a number of companies situated in this part of the world, such as the Finnish PutkiPosti company Teho Tecknikka, and others in Sweden. At the Kommunikationens Hus, the Post and Tele Museum in Denmark, they had a popular exhibition on pneumatic tubes, where they described them as something between a vacuum cleaner and a postbox. The exhibition summary says that there were no extensive pneumatic networks in Copenhagen, although some buildings did have their own systems, such as Riget Hospital and the Odense University Hospital. Whether these still exist I am not sure. Finally, there is a lovely poetic post (so I gather from Google Translate) by Johanna Eriksson on the Swedish blog [squinch][researching] about pneumatics: "Criss Cross and Around ... A single long water slide ...Where? Already gone. There it was again!".

Image from Teho Tecknikka.
Thanks to for the pneumatic post translations.