Thursday, January 14, 2016

slow speed

Pneumatic tubes and pneumatic-tube inspired trains such as the Hyperloop are often all about speed and efficiency. Since the invention of trains, designers have wanted them to go faster and faster. There is a photoessay on these fast trains for those interested here.

But fast is not always best. Germany's new ICE trains are in fact slower than the predecessors, but more energy efficient. Slower trains also made me think of an unforgettable trip from Tokyo to Sapporo on the slow, overnight train, Hokutosei.

My husband and I bought the last sleeper tickets available when we arrived in Tokyo, the transaction seemingly impossible from Melbourne. The gorgeous midnight blue train with golden trim was waiting patiently at the station the day of our departure. We had to make our way through a little collection of train enthusiasts, long lens cameras in hand, to board. Inside we found curtained windows, wooden finishes and banker's lights at the restaurant tables, where we sipped on cherry liqueurs and watched the night go by.

I know it is not about pneumatic tubes, but sometimes it is just nice to travel in the slow lane for a while, rather than be speeding and whizzing along, with those capsules.

p.S. I just found out that the Hokutosei is one of those treasures and joys of travel which have disappeared, the line discontinued in August last year.

Photos my own.

Friday, January 8, 2016

utopian superbuildings

The superhospital is upon us. No, not a hospital for superheroes, nor one that heals lesions with spells like St Mungos, but rather a big big hospital, stretching across and up, networked with dense layers of infrastructure.

Montreal has been long awaiting it's new superhospital, for better or worse, and the wait is now over. The Montreal Gazette reports on the sparkling new facilities, including robotic radiological equipment and "Cyberknives", hybrid operating rooms and yes, of course, pneumatic tubes:
The pneumatic tube system (PTS) doesn't qualify as medical equipment, but it's arguably one of the coolest features of the new hospital ... There is already a smaller such system at the Montreal General Hospital, but the one at the Glen is state-of-the-art and considered the optimum way to transport specimens around a hospital.
The journalist can barely contain their excitement about this "state-of-the-art technology", the coolest addition to the sparkling new superhospital breathlessly discussed.

Many thanks to Long Branch Mike for sending these links!

Image of another utopian megastructure in Montreal, Habitat 67, from AV Design Flikr, under Creative Commons Licence. See the hospital's website for pictures of their system.

Friday, January 1, 2016

fast in an emergency

It took a broken arm unfortunately, to realise how fast things can happen in the Dutch healthcare system. Through a series of relayed messages I went from my GP, to radiology, to emergency before I could open a trashy magazine. Messages travel fast, not only pneumatically. Then look what my husband spied in the emergency department as we waited for my arm to be set in plaster!