London (Science museum & RAF museum

April 15-17, 2008

We arrived in London very late and it was raining. The rain was no problem; we had 2 cabs bringing the 4 of us and our luggage from the airport to the Hilton Kensington hotel. We would only stay 2 nights in London, visiting the Science museum the 16th and the RAF museum the 17th, after which we would fly to Munich in the afternoon.

In the Science Museum in London there was a axhibit about early computers. This is the "Mechanical Analogue Computor" built in 1958, which can solve differential equations of upto fourth order.

A differential analyser built of Meccano.

Part of Difference engine No.2 as designed by Charles Babbage.

The back of the flight gallery. The gallery is chronological, so the back of the gallery contains the modern aircraft, symbolised by the slice of the 747 Jumbo.

After visiting the science museum, we had a few hours until dinner. My professor wanted to see the Brittish museum (famous for its Egyptian exhibit) but I thought I'd rather see Greenwich. I got permission to go there on my own and although it was a bit far (I knew) and the Dockland rail line broke down some stations before my stop and I had to take a bus, I made it there. Due to the train breakdown, I had to walk quite a bit extra, taking the foot tunel under the Thames. Actually it was not so bad, as the little park at the riverside and the tunel entrance was quite scenic.

Tunel underneath the Thames

After crossing through the village of Greenwich I arrived in the park and climbed up to the observatory. Next to the observatory is a nice open space to view the skyline of London.

It was almost 5 by the time I got there and it was not possible to enter (anymore), actually, I would not have had the time anyway. (I also wanted to see the Thames Barrier still...). The red ball on top of the roof is probably a time ball, going up just before, and dropping down exactly at noon or so.

Greenwich (and more precicely, this observatory) is famous for its standards. Most famous probably: GMT. If you want to check your watch, do it here! However, I guess nowadays even this clock is synchronised using an atomic clock from time to time... Below the clock there are references for the British Yard, 2 feet, one foot, 6 inches and 2 inches (?).

The other famous thing is that the 0 meredian is defined to pass exactly through Greenwich, this line stating so officially. Left is east longitude, right is west longitude.

From the observatory I walked on a little through the park on the eastern hemisphere (I feel more at home there :-p ). I then walked back to the main street and walked further east, toward a tube station. I thought of taking a bus (my feet started hurting more seriously, somehow it always happens in London...) but I was progressing faster than the traffic next to me... When I had to turn left there was almost no traffic, and surprisingly there was a bus going to the station stopping just in front of me.

Being on the other side of the Thames again, I got off a few stations before London City airport and walked toward the Thames barrier.

The next day we visited the Royal Air Force (RAF) Museum.