Old and new

Can’t resist telling you this…

Tuesday, after the conference sessions had finished and before the conference dinner, I travelled with my students by train from Wellington to Lower Hutt, to do a lightning visit to a couple of labs at Industrial Research Ltd. It was a very informative visit – I need to spend a bit more time there when I have the opportunity. Amongst other deeply technical things which I won’t bore you with I got to see official NZ standard time – The Clock that by definition is correct (at least in NZ) – you feel kind of privileged to be able to set your watch from it, knowing for an instant at least, your watch is going to be right. Really right.

But that’s not the point of the story. It’s the trains. It was the first time that I’d taken a suburban train in Wellington, and boy was it a retro experience. A rickety old carriage with nets for luggage racks, little cardboard tickets, that nostalgic rattle-rattle-rattle sound from underneath you. It was much like 1970’s British Rail – took me right back to my childhood.

There’s something deeply ironic about travelling to a place that is a world leader in technologies such as superconductivity and nanotechnology, by a mode of transport that is, ….well, …shall we say, not world-leading.


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