Monday, May 31, 2010

In Paris

Friday, May 28

France Télécom and Pasteur Institute in Paris
Friday, May 28

We arrived in Paris by Chunnel at the Gare Du Nord and took the coach to our hotel, Hotel Opera Cadet on Thursday evening.

The next day, Friday, we visited the France Télécom, a.k.a. Orange, and the Pasteur Institute. France Télécom is the main telecommunications company of France, much like AT&T is of the U.S. They provide landline service, mobile phone service, internet, and broadband services. We visited their headquarters in Paris, a central hub of digital information in France and Europe.

Our France Télécom tour guide could not speak fluent English, so he was assisted by an employee who spoke both French and English. The tour guide brought us through the facilities. As the discussions became more and more technical, the translations became more and more difficult. The tour guide would give a long speech in French, pointing and gesturing as we stared blankly. At the end of the speech, the flustered translator would simply paraphrase with something along the lines of, "There are eight nodes."

From what I could grasp, a majority of the facility space consisted of power and cooling systems that maintained the telecommunications systems in a suitable environment. With a hub as important as the France Télécom headquarters, there is always a lot of redundancy, backup power, temperature control, and of course security. It seemed as if every door of every room and hallway required some sort of secure access. Not pictured are the very high speed routers.

The source of the countless photos is Matt Hedlund, the genius responsible for many of the higher quality images. My contribution to this blog is nothing more than to steal his camera and upload his photos.

Power Distribution room at France Télécom

Satellite Antenna at France Télécom

The 18 of us, the professor, the Orange interns, the guide, and the translator all on one elevator


Pipes as a part of the France Télécom cooling system

Stay with the group, or you'll get trapped behind a security door.

A tour of the server racks

Translation Frustration

Jay and the server racks

The France Télécom was followed by lecture tours of the Pasteur Institute in Paris. The institute was named after Louis Pasteur, a famous chemist who created the first rabies vaccine and invented pasteurization. The key tool of the institute was the microscope, for there was at least one in almost every lab. However, the lab spaces were extremely cramped because real estate in Paris is precious.

Matt Hedlund and his camera as we walked to the Pasteur Institute

A microscope at Pasteur

Lab coats to prevent dust from getting on the expensive equipment

A fluorescent microscope in cramped quarters

I'm not sure how this photo is relevant, but Rhonda insisted I take it.

From the labs we were taken to the Pasteur Museum, Pasteur's preserved apartment, and then to Pasteur's crypt.

The Pasteur Museum

Louis Pasteur's apartment

A room in Pasteur's apartment

A mirror in Pasteur's apartment

Pasteur's crypt

That concludes the first technical visit in Paris.