Saturday, September 19, 2009

Too Windy For Blogging

Every Fall, I look forward to Doors Open London. It's the thrill of seeing forbidden places blended with the chance to be surprised by places I see everyday. I'm betting the whole experience stimulates the brain in the same way that checking out someone else's medicine cabinet can produce a tiny rush - a little bit of naughtiness with the promise of a 'wow' moment.

For various reasons, there's not a luxury of time this year to make the Doors Open circuit. Today, I did find some time (with The Boy in tow) to take a tour of the wind tunnel facility at UWO. I've never been able to get there in previous years, so I'm glad there was time today.

Our guide, who's name I never did get, was extraordinary. He truly seemed to love his work at the facility, with an enthusiasm for the subject matter that infectious. And for good reason - it's a bit of a geek paradise in there. There are shops that construct elaborate models of buildings and bridges (costing anywhere from $50K to well over $100K). There are huge puzzle-piece models of mountain ranges, the city of Hong Kong, and a section of London, England. There are computers, high-voltage cables, water tanks, smoke machines, software, metal catwalks, and all the other trappings that say "there are happy geeks on premises".

And there's the tunnel. Actually, that should plural. The main tunnel is actually a racetrack-shaped affair with 4 different testing areas. We were lucky enough to stand inside one of the testing areas and feel the gentle breezes, although the tunnel is capable of winds up to 100 km/h. All the while, our host interspersed facts and figures with war stories, wind science, and an obvious affection for the facility's founder and namesake, A.G. Davenport.

It was a heck of a 40 minutes. And I walked out wishing (just a little bit) that I was that happy geek we left behind for the next group.