Tuesday, June 08, 2004


I went to the summer members' event at the Royal Institution last night. It was a balloon debate, with four eminent scientists each taking the role of a famous director of the RI. Represented were Count Rumford (founder of the RI), Michael Faraday, Lawrence Bragg (inventor of X-ray crystallography) and George Porter (discoverer of the ozone layer hole).

I left home late, and was thus late getting to the RI (the train from Oxford being half an hour late didn't help much), but fortunately I only missed the introductory comments. Lawrence Bragg's suggestion that he hadn't actually got anything left to contribute to the world of science resulted in him being thrown out first, and George Porter got thrown out second for being too smarmy, though I thought it would have been good to have a final between George Porter and Count Rumford. Count Rumford won; although some could claim the result was rigged because Count Rumford was being played by the current director, Baronness Susan Greenfield, she was to most confident and funniest of the group.

After the debate, there were Pimm's and strawberries in the library, which was nice.

Getting home was traumatic. First I decided to wait at Paddington for a fast train to Oxford, because I didn't feel like slumming it for hours on one of the inevitable dirty and smelly local stopping trains, and so, having left the RI at half-past nine I finally left London at quarter to eleven. Then there was a points failure at Reading, so I didn't get into Oxford until quarter past midnight, whereupon I had to wait for the last bus home.

Result being that although it took me two and a half hours to get to the RI from home, it took me nearly four to get home from the RI. Understandably, this morning I feel knackered.


Anonymous said...

Hi there, it's Dani (I'd have signed up but I already have a livejournal!) Nice to see you got home safely, even if it was late; last time I travelled home from Oxford, I was three hours late and rather traumatised by the time I reached Wembley!

I agree; a playoff between Porter and Rumford would have been a rare treat. Smarminess versus self-promotion...that ought to have produced enough hot air to fly the balloon to China and back! There's no beating Baroness Greenfield as a speaker, though (I thought I was laughing hard until I heard Ilan!) and I thought she was a clear winner from the moment she opened her mouth.

Anyhow, I've probably said enough for here and now, so speak to you soon!


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