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Archive for Friday, May 23, 2008

Optical device connects NY, London in real time

May 23, 2008

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— Hello, London! Jolly good show, New York!

New Yorkers could see their English cousins across the pond Thursday without benefit of cable TV or video conferencing, courtesy of an unusual live optical hookup created by a conceptual artist with a fanciful tale of a long-lost tunnel.

An optical device called a "telectroscope" was placed at the Fulton Ferry Landing in Brooklyn and another one on the Thames River in London.

Spectators stepped up to the machine on both sides of the Atlantic and waved and wrote greetings to each other in real time on wipe-off message boards. They told knock-knock jokes, asked about the weather and found time for a few shout-outs to Queen Elizabeth and the Manchester United soccer team.

The contraption is the invention of Paul St George, a London artist known for his tiny replicas of monumental pieces of art.

Publicists will say only that it uses fiberoptic communication. St George prefers to stick to his story that the machine was started by his great-grandfather in Victorian times and transmits images via a tunnel under the ocean.

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