Timmy elsewhere

At the ASI:

Competition: what are the glories of the modern world?

34 thoughts on “Timmy elsewhere”

  1. It certainly isn’t a wind turbine in County Tyrone. How about the internet? After the need for shelter and food is satisfied, a basic level of security attained, access to medical services – and assuming you’ve gazed at the view, seen the Taj Mahal – then the internet’s portal to knowledge, to potential answers – or at least something that acts as a signpost to potential answers, could conceivably be considered a contender as one of the glories of the modern world. But then a computer screen will never stimulate the hairs at the back of your neck in quite the same way nature can.

  2. So Much for Subtlety

    I think one of the wonders of the world are the open cut mines you find in places like Canada, America’s West and Australia. The problem really is that in a thousand years time, people will think they are natural. Probably slap a preservation order on them.

    I have been in airports and train stations that are truly impressive. But nothing compared to some shopping malls.

    It is a shame that pretty soon they will dismantle all the old Soviet Blast Furnaces – and so few people got to see them anyway.

  3. I think Google Earth is one of the most amazing pieces of technology; a real wonder for me. I can spend all day procrastinating on it.

  4. The fact that I can leave my house in the Cotswolds and be in Australia the next day, having travelled there for a couple of thousand pounds and been served champagne by a pretty girl for 12,000 miles, while watching movies or reading books on an electronic device, and that I can make that journey just to watch a rugby match.

    Leisure. At all levels of society, we have more than comparable humans have ever had, if we choose to enjoy it.

  5. One of the wonders of the world for me has to be a combination of human achievement and natural beauty. The Smithsonian Institution Museums in Washington DC. You can go there and look at a piece of moon rock. And think, some bloke went there, hacked it off the lunar landscape, and brought it back, and now anyone can go look at it. That’s not just awe-inspiring, it’s completely mind-blowing.

  6. Bloke in North Dorset

    Can’t be done now but landing at Kai Tak was a wonder to behold. I even had an office on Kowloon overlooking the flight path for a few weeks and was always mesmerised watching planes threading through the buildings.

  7. @”So Much for Subtlety
    January 5, 2015 at 10:41 am

    I have been in airports and train stations that are truly impressive.”
    Really I thought Douglas Adams was correct when he said
    “It is not a coincidence that No language on earth has the phrase as pretty as an airport”.
    However I can believe that I have only been to ugly ones.

  8. In terms of physical structures, of things to visit, the Channel Tunnel and the Millau bridge stand out for me.

    Sadly, many of the most impressive structures out there are basically wastes of public money. I respect the engineering work in the O2, but it was £1bn of public money spent on a dog’s breakfast of an idea that then got sold off on the cheap.

    A lot of our most impressive things are the things considered as a bit tacky. The organisation of casinos is really impressive. Theme parks innovate with entertainment and are brilliantly organised. And our most advanced, most visually thrilling art that humanity has ever created is showing at your local multiplex (I’ve seen various Rembrants, Monets and van Goghs and Gravity in 3D with Dolby Atmos beats the pants off them).

  9. bloke (not) in spain

    Think this got dealt with on another thread. The phrase “surrounded by nubile young ladies in various states of undress?” cropped up a few times.
    If one is, sod nature & the wonders of architecture & admire the view.

  10. “Those bits of the world that could be and almost certainly were viewed and possibly even enjoyed by our Australopithecene ancestors.” Eh? Why this prejudice against everything outside East Africa?

    Anyway, I nominate Skara Brae. The idea that in Orkney, about as far north as you could pursue agriculture, there was a little village with drains, and roofed alleys, about five thousand years ago, is stunning. I’m assuming that by “modern” you mean after the birth of agriculture. If you mean something from the last millennium, I nominate Venice. If from the last couple of centuries, I nominate seeing a big coke oven at a steel works, in the dark, with a cascade of glowing coke falling out. Its main competitor would be a tour of a Magnox power station: a riveting thing for a youngster. If you mean the last few decades, it must be the mobile phone.

    I agree that the big coal holes in Oz are jaw-droppers. A first visit to Manhattan is pretty good too (or at least it was fifty years ago). Also, three decades ago, a trip through the enormous oil refinery/petrochemical area in Houston.

    If you want something threatening and disturbing, standing under a B-52 fits the bill. Pootling around Concorde was pretty good too.

    For recent beauty, I nominate

    For an unlikely thrill, I suggest you go inside a hyperbolic cooling tower. You will be astonished by the “Tardis effect”: they may look quite big from the outside but inside they seem utterly ginormous.

  11. If you want something threatening and disturbing, standing under a B-52 fits the bill.

    Standing under a Vanguard (or even Resolution) class submarine* is very impressive. Albeit usually cold, wet and fairly miserable.

    * Best tried in dry dock or in the shiplift. Otherwise very cold and extremely wet.

  12. Let me add that for sheer superficial glamour, some of the set-ups in the laser holography lab that I worked in the seventies were pretty good. To see those red threads of light in the darkness being directed hither and yon by splitters and mirrors was quite exciting at first. But oh the headaches afterwards!

  13. bloke (not) in spain

    Just a thought.
    Used to live in a place where the view was absolutely astounding. Sort of view people travel a long way to enjoy.
    At least, that what they told me when they’d done the traveling & were gawping at it.
    Seeing it every day, can’t say I noticed.
    Bit like working round the corner from magnificent architecture. You notice the traffic lights.
    Even the Mona Lisa must get a bit ordinary if you’re the floor polisher at the Louvre.

  14. @Jack C: “Supermarkets?”

    Yes, if that is a summary for the provision of safe food and (sometimes) rational information in books and other media. Safe food and water, along with safe waste disposal, are the bases of human longevity. Rational thinking and dissemination of ideas allow us to create stuff that makes life interesting.

    Don’t forget that if you don’t have to worry whether your food will kill you, you have lots more time to indulge in pleasure and study.

  15. My iPod Mini and the Kindle app. I can carry my entire library around with me in an object the size of an A5 notebook.

  16. OT:

    Tim, seems like China have finally see the economic light and lifted their rare earth export quota http://tinyurl.com/mk6f4t6 (wsj link). You’ve predicted exactly what did happened and China is finally facing the economic reality.

  17. “Its main competitor would be a tour of a Magnox power station”

    Even better, and now lost forever, was to clamber into the half-built graphite core of an AGR.

    I enjoyed the privilege a number of times.

  18. Tim N. Looked it up and that Prelude is awe and then some.
    Thanks Tim W for putting this thought through a brain cycle or two.
    Im glad no one has said the pyramids. Though astounding cant help but think of the opportunity cost!

  19. From memories of growing up, I would say central heating and the internet. Before these life was cold and extremely boring.

  20. So Much for Subtlety

    Hallowed Be – “Im glad no one has said the pyramids. Though astounding cant help but think of the opportunity cost!”

    Hey, don’t knock them. 5000 years and old still Egypt’s biggest export. The best investment ever.

  21. Crossrail is pretty good especially those diggers like worms in Dune, now buried forever beneath the metropolis, or not, should the reawaken….

  22. SMFS:” 5000 years and old still Egypt’s biggest export. The best investment ever”
    In that case someone should build some more!

  23. The Other Bloke in Italy

    My Brother in Christ not in Spain makes a couple of good points.

    Even the villagers here pause at the magnificent view not twenty yards from my door, but they may be mostly taking a breather on their trudge up the hill.

    But, you live in the World’s great treasure-house, and take much of it for granted.

  24. So Much for Subtlety

    Hallowed Be – “In that case someone should build some more!”

    I would be delighted to fund the Great Pyramid of Cheshire! But only on one condition. That Polly does her best Elizabeth Taylor impersonation and gets walled up inside.

    Go on, admit it, it would be worth it.

    (Actually a pyramid would be a lot more sensible than most of the things the government spends my money on)

  25. Jubilee line. Channel tunnel. (Neutral on North Sea platforms -suspect I’d nominate with more knowledge. Gulf of Mexico/Brazil? Calling Mr Newman.)

  26. False teeth and glasses. Old age would be pretty miserable without them. I wouldn’t be sitting here typing this and eating a bacon sandwich, for a start.

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