Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Paris Day 5

On our fifth day, we started off with a visit to another school, Ecole Superior des Mines (ESM), which is another top school in France. We started it off with a tour of the various research labs, which were located underground, curiously.

After that, we had a very nice tour of the Stone Museum housed within the school. Our tour guide was a very passionate and experienced professor who showed us the major highlights of the museum. He started by showing us cassiterite, which is the native ore for tin, because most of us were from Malaysia.

At one point, he showed us how geologists classify crystals and stones by using it's (1) common name (2) chemical composition (3) crystalographic orientation. He then showed us diamonds. There were a few really large looking ones, which was cool, until I noticed the word "fac simile" under them.

He finished by showing us man made crystals, which are chiefly used in the electronics industry as many of us on the visit were electrical engineers. He also explained to us how the same crystal can have many different colours, by simply having dopants in them. Very cool. I never really thought of gate and field oxides as quartz.

After the wonderful tour, we were on our own. As we were already inside central Paris, we split up into groups. Some went to Musee d'Orsay to look at impressionist paintings. Our group decided to go 'hollanding', which is to say, randomly take a bus and see where it takes us. We ended up at the Invalides area and got to see lots of interesting stuff.

In the evening, we were given the back-door tour of le Tour Eiffel. It was wonderful as we kept going into places with 'do not enter' signs on the door. We got to see the underground bunker, which used to house all the telecommunications equipment. We also got to see the internal water lifting mechanism that powers the elevators.

As dusk began to creep up on us, we decided to walk up to the second floor of the tower. From there, we got some nice evening pictures of Paris. After that, we got a group picture and ended the tour of the tower. Some of us then proceeded to go to visit Moulin Rouge, while others went home. I would have to say that the red-light district in Paris seems too commercialised. People were queuing up to enter the Moulin.

As this was the night of the official PS3 launch in Paris, Chris, Yijin and JiaHui decided to go catch the launch. According to them, it was fairly disappointing and from media reports that I've read, it was a flop, with the Xbox360 stealing the show from them. The three of them had a real 'hollanding' trip as much of the Metro was closed and they had a lot of trouble getting back.

*** photo: crescent moon within the structure of eiffel tower ***

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Shawn,

My first post!

Thanks for the detailed blog on our trip -- saves me from having to blog it myself :)

I had not come across the term "hollanding" and Googling gave your page as the 3rd result -- on the same day it was created!

Google is scary :O