London Calling Part 1

By Phil Plait | October 2, 2009 7:49 am

Pip pip, ladies and lords! I’m in England, getting ready for TAM London! That starts tomorrow, though there are some festivities tonight (George Hrab in concert!). My hotel charges as much for internet as my last hotel room in the States cost in total, so I’m sitting in a cafe across from my hotel to use their wifi, and drinking so much espresso to make up for it that I might fly home without an airplane.

I have already had a fun adventure or two, and will be blogging about all this and uploading photos as I can. I’ve been told the wireless at the Mermaid Centre (the venue for TAML) is good, so I’ll be live tweeting the whole thing as I can as well.

And if you’re in the UK/London area, there are still tickets available. Go to the TAM London site and come see us!


Comments (26)

  1. I’m jealous! Looking forward to hearing the stories and seeing the pictures. Have fun on the aircraft carrier in the Atlantic. ūüėČ

    (That last bit is just for Ivan! ūüėÄ )

  2. Nigel Depledge

    Hey, Phil, welcome back to Blighty.

    I could get picky about your use of the … erm … vernacular (for want of a better word), but that would be rather missing the spirit of things.

    I had hoped to attend TAM London but (for various reasons, not least of which are fiscal) cannot. So I wish you an enjoyable and sceptical time.

    Oh, yes, now you’re in England you’ll have to use British spelling until you leave. But don’t forget to try some British cuisine (by which I mean curry) and proper beer (given where you are, London Pride or any of the Shepherd’s Neame beers should be readily available in any good pub or bar).

  3. Nigel Depledge

    @ Larian (1) –

    That joke comes from (IIRC) about 1985. After the Lockerbie bombing (PanAm flight 103), when Reagan ordered Libya bombed by aircraft stationed in bases in the UK.

    Q: What’s the largest aircraft carrier in the US fleet?
    A: Great Britain.

  4. I have a friend in the UK named John. Please say “hi” for me when you bump into him. Thanks.

  5. will be there tomorrow … can’t wait … there’s an amazing line-up of great people!

  6. Sounds like a great meeting.

    I probably won’t be able to come since we have a friend coming in from the US this weekend, but I put a blurb on Secular Cafe to see whether any of our London-area members can make it.

  7. DrFlimmer

    You made a step into a better world — oh, sorry, couldn’t resist. Btw: Be happy that you needn’t pay 10Euro (or pounds) for coming in…..

    Have fun!

  8. Adam

    Wetherspoons pubs generally have free wifi (other pubs/chains do). There’s quite a few around and you can find individual ones here:

    They can be a bit hit and miss though and I’d recommend not using the one in Elephant & Castle, if you’re in that area.

  9. If we’d realised you were coming, we could have rounded up some area sceptics and sciencey folks to meet you. At least you would have got some free beers out of the deal, and you wouldn’t have to be drinking overpriced coffee on your own.

    I think most Wetherspoons pubs still have free WiFi, and their coffee and beers are cheap. Check one out.


    Back in 2006, I used to have access to free Wi-Fi broadband for about six months — until my damn neighbour put a bloody lock on it!

  11. Tickets available?

    I thought the thing sold out months ago.

  12. Martin Moran

    I live in London and from my house there are 4 unsecured networks I could connect to. I wouldn‚Äôt do such a thing of course, except that time we had a power cut… London is strange in that way sometimes you can have a power cut, but you are still within range of someone who doesn’t and has an unsecured network, cool! My brother though he was in the gobi desert.

  13. armillary

    Tickets WERE available, you mean. I wonder how many minutes they lasted?

  14. @Nigel, While that joke may have had a resurgence from Operation El Dorado Canyon, its genesis is from WWII I believe.


    @ Larian LeQuella and @ Nigel Depledge,

    Unsinkable aircraft carrier

  16. Gavin Flower

    Remember in WW II (the Second World War, for the uneducated) the RAF (Royal Air Force) did their best to defend Great Britain from the Luftwaffe (German Air Force).

    Later the RAF mounted heavy bomber raids in to German occupied territory, and to Berlin (the capital of Germany).

    In fact the bombing of Berlin saved Great Britain. As Hitler (the supreme leader of Germany) got so incensed that he ordered the Luftwaffe to bomb civilian areas of London and other British cities. This meant that there were much fewer attacks on British radar stations, RAF air bases and other British miltary installations. This was hard on civilians, but it meant that the British military could then build up and eventually overwelm the Luftwaffe.

    So towards the end of WW II, the bulk of the RAF, and aircraft from the American Air Force, based in Great Britain could hammer German tagets.

    Probably at this latter stage, the Americans began to call Great Britain an ‘unsinkable aircraft carrier’.

  17. Gavin Flower

    TheBritish radar satuons were used to detect the incoming German bombers, and were vunerable to attack themselves, even though they were defended.

  18. I’m extremely jealous that you’re in London and at TAM. I very much wanted to go, but it didn’t work out this year. You all are going to do this again next year, right? Hopefully, I’ll have better luck then.

  19. MPG

    Speaking of Britain and scepticism, Derren Brown has just launched a website that sort-of ties in with his Channel 4 pyschological/magic show thing, exposing the tricks behind “psychic” abilities and so on.

  20. PeteC

    “Pip, pip, ladies and lords”???

    Presumeably, when you touch down back in the states, the first thing you’ll say is “Yeee-haw! Yippee-ki-yay! Yee-haw!”, spit your chewing tabacco into the nearby spittoon, fire off a few shots from your pearl-handed revolvers into the air, adjust your ten-gallon hat and complain about the horse ride from the airport being a problem due to “savage in’jun” attacks?
    :) [joke in fun – national stereotypes of the 18th century seem wierd]

    But welcome back, hope you enjoy this stay too :)

  21. A visit to the John Snow Pub should be a job-related addition to the itinerary for any skeptic. You could join The John Snow Society. They ought to be having their annual Pumphandle Lecture about now.

  22. TheTrueScotsman

    Great that you got into the country OK, seems we Brits are a little discriminating in who we allow entry…

  23. Nigel Depledge

    @ Ivan3man (14) –

    Well, hey, you learn something new every day.

  24. TimH

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!


See More

Collapse bottom bar