Brian Micklethwait's Blog
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Michael jennings on ASI Boat Trip 9: The man driving the boat
Brian Micklethwait on ASI Boat Trip 9: The man driving the boat
Brian Micklethwait on ASI Boat Trip 9: The man driving the boat
Michael Jennings on ASI Boat Trip 9: The man driving the boat
6000 on God was overheating and now needs radical transplant surgery (and Dawkins now has to do my email)
Michael Jennings on My week in Brittany 2: A crane holding a bridge at Canning Town!
BT on Confirming my String prejudices
Tatyana on Man 3D-prints Thing in his back garden
6000 on 5G Boris
Michael Jennings on 5G Boris
Most recent entries
- God was overheating and now needs radical transplant surgery (and Dawkins now has to do my email)
- A swimming pool in a skyscraper
- God is dead
- PID at the Times
- My week in Brittany 2: A crane holding a bridge at Canning Town!
- ASI Boat Trip 9: The man driving the boat
- Back from France (plus cat photos)
- Big Things through a gasometer
- The view from Stave Hill
- Confirming my String prejudices
- Cat photo and cat news
- Man 3D-prints Thing in his back garden
- Oxo Tower with bus advertising The Expendables III
- Something at Samizdata
- 5G Boris
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Category archive: Bridges
I departed for France on Tuesday August 5th.
My flight from London City Airport to Quimper in Brittany was due for lift off at 11.40am, so I obviously had to leave home at about 9.20am, thereby reaching City Airport as early as I could without having to pay for the journey. (Old Git passes only cut in at 9.30am, or such is my understanding.) We infrequent flyers can’t be too careful. I would far rather wait two hours at an airport while reading a good book than endure any fear of missing my flight at any point on my journey to the airport, still less actually risk missing it.
One way to get to London City Airport would have been to take the District Line to Tower Hill, and then the D(ocklands) L(ight) R(ailway) from then onwards, with just the one (somewhat complicated) change. But my computer said it would be quicker to change twice, first at Westminster from the District Line to the Jubilee Line, and then again at Canning Town to the DLR. The Jubilee Line is quicker than the trundlingly antique District Line and quicker than the relatively new but cautiously robotic DLR, and it may also have realised that both these changes are far easier than the one change from Tower Hill (District) to Tower Gateway (?) (DLR). So, I changed at Westminster, and again at Canning Town.
All of which explains why, when I got to Canning Town, and was awaiting the DLR train on to City Airport, I got to see this:
I couldn’t believe my luck. I hadn’t even left London, yet already I was beholding once-in-a-lifetime wonders! For yes, your eyes do not deceive you. That is a crane, holding a bridge. I love cranes, especially when they are doing something interesting. I love bridges, especially new ones and especially when they are still being built. So you can imagine my delight at observing a bridge being craned into position, by a crane. And all of this presented to me as if by a performer who is determined to communicate to the maximum effect with his audience, assembled on the top deck of Canning Town Tube/DLR station.
On the left there, the first picture I took. On the right, a later picture which shows where the bridge was about to be deposited. There are two bright red bits, the same bright red as the bridge itself, clearly at each end of where the bridge would shortly be.
All of this happened on Tuesday August 5th. A day earlier and it would not have started. A day later and it would have been a fait accompli, with the installed bridge presumably looking exactly as it looks now. Only by being there exactly on August 5th, and only by choosing the exactly correct railway journey combination, was I able to observe this delight.
(Imagine if I had happened to sale past this, on August 14th 1999.)
My week in Brittany had got off to a great start.
Here is a picture, taken from Lambeth Bridge in March of this year:
This is basically one of those “I just like it” pictures, that I came upon last night when trawling through the archives, although I liked it a lot more after a touch of rotation had been applied. I particularly like the contribution of those leafless trees.
The red brick tower that dominates this scene is something to do with St Thomas’ Hospital, but further googling made me none the wiser about its exact purpose or provenance. It was, it seems built in 1865. Other than that, I could learn little.
But googling did cause me to learn about this other tower, which used to be a hospital water tower and has now been converted into a home.
This sort of modernistic box-mongering can be very dull, when that’s all there is. But put it next to some more ornate Victoriana, and both styles often look the better for it.
That is also part of the pleasure I get from the above photo. Even if ancient and modern buildings are not next to each other for real, they can put them next to each other, with a camera.
I still have more pictures to show you that I took on that Adam Smith Institute Boat Trip.
But this was London, from a boat, on the river. Had there been no people on the boat besides me, I would still have been in Digital Photographer heaven.
In particular, there were also bridges, typically from angles that I had never seen them from before. And what with it being such a very sunny evening, there was that bridge over bright water effect that I do so like, where the light bounces back off the water and illuminates the undersides of bridges:
Those bridges are: Blackfriars Station Bridge, Blackfriars Station Bridge again, London Bridge, Tower Bridge, London Bride again (on the way back), and the Millennium Bridge (the one that wobbled).
What’s that you say? One of these is a shot of an individual, and not a bridge shot at all? Look again.
Inevitably, the categories here (individuals, groups, crowds, photographers, bridges) overlap, if only because, when I do photoing, I like to combine as many as possible of the things I like to photo in one photo. In particular, four of the above six shots are crowd shots as well as bridge shots, and the other two are indeed individual shots as well as bridge shots.
There have also been Big Things to be seen in all these photos, and if you don’t know how much I love to photo those, you are very new here.
From Stuff Matters by Mark Miodownik (pp. 80-81):
Given that literally half of the world’s structures are made from concrete, the upkeep of concrete structures represents a huge and growing effort. To make matters more difficult, many of these structures are in environments that we don’t want to have to revisit on a regular basis, such as the Oresund bridge connecting Sweden and Denmark, or the inner core of a nuclear power station. In these situations it would be ideal to find a way to allow concrete to look after itself, to engineer concrete to be self-healing. Such a concrete does now exist, and although it is in its infancy it has already been shown to work.
The story of these self-healing concretes started when scientists began to investigate the types of life forms that can survive extreme conditions. They found a type of bacterium that lives in the bottom of highly alkaline lakes formed by volcanic activity. These lakes have pH values of 9-11, which will cause burns to human skin. Previously it had been thought, not unreasonably, that no life could exist in these sulphurous ponds. But careful study revealed life to be much more tenacious than we thought. Alkaliphilic bacteria were found to be able to survive in these conditions. And it was discovered that one particular type called B. Pasteurii could excrete the mineral calcite, a constituent of concrete. These bacteria were also found to be extremely tough and able to survive dormant, encased in rock, for decades.
Self-healing concrete has these bacteria embedded inside it along with a form of starch, which acts as food for the bacteria. Under normal circumstances these bacteria remain dormant, encased by the calcium silicate hydrate fibrils. But if a crack forms, the bacteria are released from their bonds, and in the presence of water they wake up and start to look around for food. They find the starch that has been added to the concrete, and this allows them to grow and replicate. In the process they excrete the mineral calcite, a form of calcium carbonate. This calcite bonds to the concrete and starts to build up a mineral structure that spans the crack, stopping further growth of the crack and sealing it up.
It’s the sort of idea that might sound good in theory but never work in practice. But it does work. Research now shows that cracked concrete that has been prepared in this way can recover 90 per cent of its strength thanks to these bacteria. This self-healing concrete is now being developed for use in real engineering structures.
Maybe Miodownik is very good at explaining things, or maybe I am just ready to be learning this stuff. Probably both. I chose that excerpt because my average reader may not know about such things as bacteria which automatically repair concrete. But the truth is that I am almost embarrassed by how much I am reading that is new to me, or only vaguely known, as a sort of historical rumour.
I had no idea, to take just one example, who invented/discovered stainless steel, or where, or how. Now, I have a much better idea. The story is told on page 29 of this book, which I heartily recommend to all technological illiterates who would like not to be technological illiterates.
Last Saturday, I was out and about by the river, taking pictures like this one:
But then, I noticed that bird, at the bottom of the left hand tower of Tower Bridge, and started snapping away in a more zoomed wayr than for the picture above. Hence the title of this posting:
I don’t know what brand of bird that is. I do know that it is not one of those avian imposters that calls itself a “crane” (thus clothing itself in dignity stolen from the mighty urban machine of construction), but other than that, I can only guess. A cormorant perhaps?
Pick and click.
Photographing birds properly is not my strong suit. You probably need to know their habits, the way I know the habits of the digital photographer, the one living creature that really interests me.
If, on the other hand, birds were to start taking photographs ...
Yes, here are yet more snaps I snapped on that boat trip. This time they are not of people posing in groups, but of individuals, if not on their own, then photoed on their own by me. Other people are strictly background:
The point of these pictures, for me, is not who the people are, simply that I like the pictures. But, for the record, the one’s whose names I know are: 1.1 Damien, 1.2 Noreen, 2.3 ASI Co-Supremo Madsen, 3.1 Mr Devil’s Kitchen, 3.3 ASI Junior Supremo Sam. If anyone knows others, please comment accordingly.
Once again there is a propaganda message here. As well as adding up to a happy and companionable movement, these people include some very interesting separate, individual people, distinct characters. What I like to think these pictures get across is how clever these people are, as well as good humoured and good fun.
The light in these pictures was not perfectly handled, nor was it in the previous batch of photos from this trip, of people posing in groups. But photoshop (or whatever you personally use) is a wonderful thing, and great pictures can be extracted from very average ones these days with no great strain, the way only fictional spies used to be able to do.
Besides which, I really like 3.2, of the young woman next to the no smoking sign. I think all that light and shadow makes her look really good. Okay, it wouldn’t do as a portrait, and it certainly wouldn’t do as a passport photo, but as a picture in its own right, I like how it came out. She looks intelligent, I think. Not that she didn’t to begin with, but you get my point.
In general, I think it creates a far better photographic atmosphere to have lots of light splashing around everywhere, even if that sometimes makes for somewhat unsightly shadows and badly lit faces. The point is not: these are great photos, artistically speaking (even though some of them are pretty good even from that point of view). The point is: it was a great boat trip, and everyone had great time.
I also think that bridges, which I like for their own sake, make good backgrounds for head shots.
City A.M. has a report about another possible bridge across the Thames, this one being one that will connect Chelsea to Battersea. There is another map here, also showing all the various options for where exactly to put this bridge. And I see that I already mentioned this Chelsea to Battersea bridge idea in this earlier posting.
This makes three new London bridges that are now being talked up, planned, hustled, whatever. There is also the Joanna Lumley bridge, which will go from Temple tube station to across the river from Temple Tube station, or then again maybe not. Both this and the Chelsea to Battersea bridge are footbridges and bikebridges, but they are also forever talking about a big road bridge just down river from City Airport.
If this Chelsea to Battersea bridge gets built, it will be only a dozen minutes (two to three dozen minutes if I want to get close) from my front door, so you can bet that (although I promise nothing) I will be photographing its progress relentlessly.
I hope they make it look good. Bridges can look so great that it is a serious shame when they don’t look great. It’s good that they’re going to have a competition for this one. This, I think, will unleash a contemporary force that is starting to interest me a lot, which is internet informed public opinion. Now, all the various contending pictures of what they might or might not do can get published and talked about beforehand, far more easily than in the years B(efore the) I(nternet). The people who rule the world basically don’t care exactly where, or even if, this bridge gets built, so they are perfectly willing to let its final design be settled by Vox Pop. And Vox Pop, when it comes to bridges, is a force for good, I think. If you are going to spend 8X million quid on a bridge, you might as well spend 9X million quid and make it look really good and distinctive. That’s what I think Vox Pop will say, and for once I agree.
LATER ON FRIDAY (i.e. not the small hours of Friday morning): More bridgery today from City A.M., this time in the form of a plug for that East London road bridge, already mentioned above.
If you’ve not been there before, I recommend visiting Handpicked London. I’ve just been browsing through it, and found my way from it to Photographs of Tower Bridge being constructed are found in a skip, from December 2011, which I do not remember noticing at the time. (The first two of those are Facebook links, and maybe they don’t last. You have to register, is what the second one just said.)
These photographs of Tower Bridge being constructed have been unveiled after a stash of hundred-year-old photos were found in a skip. The 50 sepia pictures, the most recent of which date back to 1892, reveal in incredible detail the ingenuity behind one of the capital’s most popular tourist destinations.
Hybrid modernism. Modern in its manner of creation. Ancient in appearance. An architectural style with a lot of mileage in it.
LATER: More stuff from me about towers here.
Wikipedia on it, here.
More pictures here. Plus, this:
To celebrate the 38th anniversary of the liberation of Da Nang, the government of Vietnam has constructed the world’s largest dragon-shaped bridge over the Han River. Not only is it the steel bridge the largest of its type in the world, but it is covered in over 2,500 LED lights - and it breathes fire!
Inauguration report, and another great picture here:
I think that’s terrific. I just went looking for new bridges, not having done this for a while, and this one jumped out at me.
As a general rule, I find sunsets both difficult to photo and rather pointless to photo. After all, we have all seen as many sunsets as we want to have seen, photoed by the best of the best, photography-wise. But, the effect of the setting sun on things is a different matter entirely:
I checked the blog and could find no trace of this photo at the time (June 2012), but I reckon it deserves a showing, if not then, then now. It’s those big diagonal things that make it so pretty. We’re looking down river from Waterloo Bridge.
But what is that building? Maybe a commenter will know, or someone cleverer at Streetview than I. But I don’t. But, I didn’t want this ignorance on my part to postpone me showing you the picture itself.
The boring concrete stump top right is the inside of the Walkie Talkie. And nearer to us, we see the new Blackfriars Bridge railway station, with its ziggy-zaggy rooves, under construction.
LATER: And, I just found this snap, taken moments before the one above:
I have sliced out the sky, but I think it looks better with the sky, dwarfing the buildings. Click if you want to see whether you agree.
Gherkin, but no Cheesegrater.
Thank you Jackie D, who saw this and thought of me. Everything an incoming email to BrianMicklethwaitDotCom should be.
Google this and you’ll get a lot of hits. I’m not the only one who is impressed.
Follow the link above, and you’ll read the headline “China build the World’s Longest Bridge - Jiaozhou Bay Bridge”. But bridges like this, across huge chunks of sea and with hugely long approaches over that sea, are fairly common now, even if this particular one happens to be the biggest in this genre, for the moment. The photo has it right. The bridge is just another bridge, and is rightly stuck away in the distance. The motorway junction is in the foreground, and quite right too. Is there, anywhere else on the planet, a motorway junction resembling this one, all at sea?
Ordinary bridge, astonishing approach. Reminds me of this.
In Germany. Done just with paint. Excellent, I think. Found here (scrolling down is highly recommended). Which I found because 6k recently linked to the same site, concerning something else, also very entertaining.
Taken by me, Thursday evening:
This was definitely the best picture I took during that little session, between leaving the meeting at the Rose and Crown and arriving at Blackfriars Tube on the other side of the river, but it always takes me a while to be able to see which are the best. I think it is because I need to forget entirely about which ones I had highest hopes for at the time.
Incoming, entitled “Request Link Removal”:
I am contacting you on behalf of Eurostar, we work with their Online Marketing team and are currently reviewing the number of links pointing to the Eurostar website. In order to comply with Google’s regulations, there are a number of links which we are required to remove or nofollow. We have identified such links from your website and would like to request that you either remove the link or add a nofollow tag to it.
The link(s) we wish to be removed can be found here:
[original link written out but it doesn’t fit properly here]
Please can you let me know once you have altered the link or if you have any questions,
SEO Account Executive
360i | 62-70 Shorts Gardens | Covent Garden| London, WC2H 9AH
The link in the above email is to an entire month of postings here, so it took me a while to find the offending link in question. I was half hoping I wouldn’t find it, so I could send a sarky email back saying: Be more specific. Which posting? No such luck. It’s in this posting, where is says “November”. Worth following that link because it is to one of my very best ever (I think) photos.
I don’t understand what a “nofollow tag” is or how to make such a thing work, so I just removed the link.
My link originally went “http(semicolon)//stpancras.eurostar.com/en-gb/why-we-moving” (I’ve changed “:” to “(semicolon)” there to stop this version causing more grief). Trying StPancrasDotEurostarDotCom now gets Google saying:
Oops! Google Chrome could not find stpancras.eurostar.com. Did you mean: www.eurostar.com/stpancras
Interesting that Google omits the question mark there, I think.
So, presumably this is a case of an old Eurostar website that they no longer want anyone reading.
Or is it? I don’t know. Can anyone tell me more about what just happened?
To me, it all has a slightly objectionable taste to it. The link to our site no longer works, so you must remove your link to it. Why? Why can’t the link just not work any more? Does it clog up the internet, or something, with repeated attempts to make the link work? Is that what this is about?