Energy, Globalisation and the Left Hand Side of my Desk


This picture is informative rather than elegant, but…

I was sitting at my desk thinking about nothing in particular when it struck me that there were a surprising number of different kinds of energy represented on the left hand six square feet of my desk.

The phone and the speaker both convert electricity into sound, while the former also converts air waves into vibrations that in turn convert into electrical pulses. The Click and Grow hydroponic grower converts electricity into light that the plants then use to photosynthesise, er, more plant stuff. The old windup clock converts muscle power into spring tension and the mechanism then transforms that into movement.

The green Tate and Lyle tin is labelled ’By Appointment to Her Majesty the Queen, Tate and Lyle PLC, Sugar Refiners’. It once held syrup which has long since been converted here (and no doubt in Buckingham Palace too) via biochemical processes into human energy. Behind that the red and yellow recycled tin lamp on the window ledge, if filled with paraffin/kerosene, could create light and heat. The tin top of the lamp is made from a BP 1 litre petrol/gasoline can, the base from a tinned food can. (The slogans on it read  ‘Makes a Meal Taste Better’ and ‘Kwa  Ladha Spesheli’.)

And globalisation? The speaker is from China, the phone probably from Japan or some other part of SE Asia. The clock is probably English, though the numerals come from an Republic and Empire that disappeared over a thousand years ago. The syrup tin was probably made in Britain and most likely at that time the steel used would have been made in South Wales or England, while the syrup itself probably came from sugar cane grown in Central America or the West Indies. The lamp was made in Tanzania and brought back for me by our son.

Finally the hydroponic grower was built in Finland and Estonia by a small company based in Tallinn, Estonia and Palo Alto, California largely staffed (as far as I can tell) by very pleasant Scandinavians. And, to complete the globalisation picture, the development was part funded through the European Union’s Regional Growth Fund and  through Kickstarter, so financially owes its existence to some 3000 people from all round the world.

Adds up to a more complicated six square feet of desk than I expected Smile

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12 Responses to Energy, Globalisation and the Left Hand Side of my Desk

  1. So many generations (or epochs I should say). I don’t know if you referred to “the left side of your desk” meaning the clock; but there it is: time: a universal conception. It exists or at least pretends to do so through the clock. Is there indeed such a thing as time, or a space in which we travel. A desk can be a reminder of such notion.

    • Trifocal says:

      The time reference was to the clock and the Latin numerals which date from the Roman Republic at least. It is a strange thing to me that we live about 100 yards away from a road that was first built by the Romans about 2000 years ago. As you say, so many generations…

  2. I see you’re also germinating something. Thanks for mentioning Hydroponics. I’m also germinating two Syzygium trees in water, and germinated all of Delnoix regia trees with florescent lamps.

    • Trifocal says:

      Yes- the hydroponic system is still a bit experimental and not quite right; not sure if they are selling it generally yet. It is for complete beginners like me. It is nice to watch the plants develop- currently Lemon Balm, Thyme and Basil- and I took off the first six leaves for a salad dressing this week 🙂

  3. >This picture is informative rather than elegant, but…
    Actually, it looks almost like a painting. Maybe by Edward Hopper.
    Do you have a link for the grower?

    • Trifocal says:

      Hadn’t even thought of Edward Hopper but now you mention it… Maybe I should get a cigarette, put on a fedora and take in again on the timer from 10 metres further away 🙂 For the grower the address is:
      They have had an earlier grower on sale for some time and the production model of this one can be ordered this month it seems. I am not convinced they have got it working quite right yet but they are very frank about problems and seem far more interested in design and production than PR so I have every confidence in them!

  4. That’s amazing!! Apparently how it works best is with herbs and smaller plants. I don’t know that hydroponics works with trees though. It’s principle is germinating with water and minerals. I’m germinating my Syzygium trees in water, they will eventually be transplanted to soil, however, because I’m not running the risk of not having it work with trees. The concept of “urban gardening” is now becoming very popular; and if you’d like to see something interesting, watch this:

    • Trifocal says:

      Yes that sounds very like the system they are using. The water flows in automatically as required and they have small mineral elements spread evenly through a neutral growing medium in the pots to get an extended root network. For more details see:
      As I said it may not yet be quite right yet (there is a problem with the automatic water level alert with my prototype that other people have had too). But I am sure they are working hard on it.
      Thanks for the fishtank hydroponics reference- I will have a look at it. And hope you are successful with the Syzgium trees. Maybe worth showing them in a future post?

  5. Yes, they have already began to root; but as soon as I see the leaves sprouting I will definitive post them on the blog. But I’m still waiting for at least two leaves to sprout, because it’s a new type of seed and I’m still getting familiar with it. I’m also thinking now that they will have to be placed under the fluorescent lights in order to begin the sprouting. As of now they’re only getting 4 hours of sunlight, and tree seedlings are supposed to get at least 16 hours daily of fluorescent lighting; so tonight they will go under the lamps.

  6. Emilio Pasquale says:

    I’m getting a headache.

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