Friday, November 16, 2012

treasure in a tube

I have spent some time researching pneumatic tubes now, and they always seem to be found in American and European places. But a recent ABC podcast from Canberra, has revealed where these tubes are hidden in Australia too.  In the walls and ceilings of Old Parliament!

Michael Evans, the manager of visitor experience at the Museum of Australian Democracy in Old Parliament House, spoke to Louise Maher on the radio recently, to talk about this treasure in the museum.

He describes how there were several sets of tubes, one to the Postoffice and another 3km line to the government printers for sending out the Hansards.

For those curious to see the tubes at the museum, you can see them in the downstairs gallery, at the old post office and in the Attendant's Booth in the House of Representative's Chamber. Not all the tubes are there, but there are "some ends of it you can see" (see photo). Michael exclaims, that it is "really an untapped project to go and map what is there and what isn't there".

There is one section that still works but is not in action at the moment in order to preserve the technology - however Michael says that they want to get this working so that their visitors can see and hear the tubes (the thunk!).

Listen to the Treasure Trove podcast here.

And read the museum blogpost on Lamsons here.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

science fictions

Rosalind Williams, author of the wonderful Notes on the Underground, is a keynote at a graduate conference at Rutgers University, Friday, March 1st 2013, titled "Science Fiction & Fictions of Science".

See the website for more information.

Friday, November 2, 2012

you can't fax a blood sample

Save space, save money, save time, and what's more, better patient care ... A new development at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre ticks off all of the reasons to install pneumatic tubes between their network of hospitals, and extend upon the existing lines. Pneumatic tubes are described this time, in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, as an "age-old technology that has disappeared from much of the business world", but one needed in hospitals because "you can't fax a blood sample". These Swisslog tubes extend far - almost two city blocks. The journalist describes the 3D plans for the installation as like a page from a Dr. Seuss book, interviewing a number of developers, including representatives at Swisslog and Pevco about the tubes. One states "as hospitals expand, they're rarely one building anymore", the new hospital one that requires a centralised lab connected easily to the different buildings. Space is about patient care, and the more you can hide away the better - pneumatic tubes are perfect for this, their metal pipes invisible to most who visit a hospital. It is not so invisible to many hospital designers and engineers however, who are designing the tubes in more and more hospitals, nor to the many lab staff whose positions now become redundant as the tubes do their work.

Image: Pneumatic tubes in a parking garage from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.