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'Tunnel' links New York to London

By Matthew Price
BBC News, New York

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People in New York see as far as London

It was possibly the most laborious and least informative interview ever conducted.

It took about five minutes, yielded a one-word answer, and gave little real flavour of the subject.

Still - it was conducted using two whiteboards, two marker pens, and it was done over a distance of 3,471 miles (5,585 km).

How? Well there are two answers to that.

If you believe artist and inventor Paul St George then his "Telectroscope" connects New York and London via a (very) long tunnel running through the earth's crust, with the images bouncing back and forth using mirrors.

The other explanation is that it is all done by optical fibres - take your pick.

One end of the "tunnel" emerges next to Tower Bridge on the banks of the Thames in London - the other is next to Brooklyn Bridge on the banks of New York's East River.

It looks like something HG Wells might have imagined.

Each end has a giant telescope-like construction which appears to punch its way out of the earth.

There are dials, and levers, and thermometer gauges on the side of the 20m long brass and wood construction.

Peer into it and you can see people on the other side of the Atlantic.

Wave at them, they wave back at you.

Write on the whiteboard, and ask a question, and they will write back.

Mesmerising

It is rather like using a giant web-cam, live streaming (though we are told the internet is not involved and there is no audio connection) between two of the world's biggest cities.

So now you know why the following interview took so long.

Once you have got the whiteboard, and written your message on it, you have to angle it correctly so they can read it over in Europe.

"What is your name?" I wrote.

The stranger at the other end, standing in front of Tower Bridge and surrounded by onlookers, picked up his marker and replied.

"Mik," came back the answer, once he had angled his board correctly.

"Where are you from?"

It is a piece of art, and it's also a sort of curiosity in a public space
Peter Coleman
New York organiser

"Bangladesh."

"What do you think of this?" I asked. (Top journalism, huh?)

"GREAT!" came the reply.

Told you it was informative.

Still it is kind of addictive and mesmerising, which strikes me as strange in a world in which we type, text, and Twitter every day, within seconds, to individuals on the other side of the planet without even thinking about it.

Peter Coleman is the producer for the New York end of the project.

"It is a piece of art, and it's also a sort of curiosity in a public space. London and New York are cities with millions of people.

"They can't believe that those are actually people in another city looking at them. That's what I find all these people are sort of amazed at. It pulls you right into it."

English sarcasm

A group of children from California now cluster round the "Telectroscope" - waving and writing messages to the London end.

"That's so cool - they can see us!" one says as they get a wave back from Tower Bridge.

"They're like way over there, and you're sort of talking to them. This is so much fun!"

A New York policeman stands in front with a message. A man at the other end writes something down.

"How's the band?"

"I'm with the NYPD, not the group The Police," the copper writes back.

English sarcasm clearly does not work down a tunnel.

A New York football fan who presumably supports the English club Chelsea steps up: "Man U. Suck!" he writes.

The view through the "Telectroscope"
Tunnel vision - the view of London from New York

The people in London look perplexed, and a little annoyed to be frank - until someone points out that perhaps to them it reads: "Man, you suck."

Then everyone gets very excited.

There are two women at the London end who are from New York City - they are writing where exactly they come from.

They hold up their sign.

"Bay Ridge Brooklyn, yer, go Bay Ridge!!" the New York crowd shout, and for a moment, two groups of strangers, in two cities thousands of miles apart, jump up and down and smile at one another.





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