Recently in Kensington Category

Science Museum - The Difference Engine & The Science of Spying


Science Museum
Exhibition Road
South Kensington


GPS grid coordinates:
Latitude: (WGS84) N51:29:51 ( 51.497488 )
Longitude: (WGS84) W0:10:28 ( -0.174507 )

Apart from the general Computing section, there is special CyberPunk interest in the working model of Charles Babbage's mechanical computing device, the Difference Engine, which is on display.

Ada, Countess of Lovelace, was one of the first "computer programmers" who helped Charles Babbage to program his prototypes.

Both of these historical figures also featured in William Gibson and Bruce Sterling's "SteamPunk" novel The Difference Engine

The main Computing display also includes a scaled down working model of a machine called Pilot ACE. This was was Alan Turing Blue Plaque in Hampton High Street, in the outer London suburb of Richmond, which is where he lived during that period.

Alan Turing was also one of the pioneers of computer based Artificial Intelligence, giving us the Turing Test, so popular in science fiction. The "Turing Institute", which supposedly regulated advanced Artificial Intelligences (AIs) , features in WIlliam Gibson's famous CyberPunk novel Neuromancer

The Science Museum also has an example of the hand cranked Curta Calculator, as featured in William Gibson's Pattern Recognition

Also, The Science of Spying exhibition (until 2nd September), is aimed at children of all ages, and covers techniques and technologies of espionage and surveillance, and the basic science which supports them. [This exhibition is now closed]

Polonium-210 - the murder of Alexander Litvinenko


The sensational murder of Alexander Litvinenko, a naturalised British citizen and former Russian KGB agent turned Russian dissident opponent of President Vladimir Putin at the end of 2006, by means of the extraordinary use of a massive dose of the radioactive isotope 210Polonium is inevitably of interest to CyberPunk tourists with a penchant for high technology and the macabre. Exotic high tech poisons have

Lots of aeroplanes and several locations were contaminated with trace amounts of 210Polonium, which is a very active emitter of alpha particles, which are usually blocked by the human skin, but which is lethal if inhaled or ingested. It is so active an isotope, with a half life of 138 days, that it tend to spall or sublime, if left exposed to the atmosphere i.e. atoms of 210Polonium are knocked away from the surface by the vigour of the alpha particle flux from the bulk of the solid or liquid containing the isotope, thereby leaving minute traces at the sites where the victim and the poisoner(s) visited.

Most of these locations in central London are in Mayfair except for 1 Cavendish Place and UCL Hospital.

There are other locations which were contaminated with traces of 210Polonium, in North London e.g. Litvineko's home in Osier Avenue 140 Osier Crescent in Haringey, Arsenal football stadium, Heathrow Airport etc., outside of Central London, either by contact with Alexander Litvinenko or with his alleged murderer Alexei Lugovoi.

N.B. all of these locations have been declared safe - remember the half life of 210Polonium is138 days.

Also involved in this high tech spook saga, were:

  • Metropolitan Police Counter-terrorism Command, New Scotland Yard, Broadway
  • Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Whitehall
  • Embassy of the Russian Federation, 6 - 7 Kensington Palace Gardens

Russian Embassy


Embassy of the Russian Federation
6 - 7 Kensington Palace Gardens
W8 4QP


GPS grid coordinates:
Latitude: (WGS84) N51:30:25 ( 51.506992 )
Longitude: (WGS84) W0:11:26 ( -0.190685 )

The refusal by the Russian government to allow the extradition or prosecution of the chief suspect in the murder of Alexander Litvinenko, namely Andrei Lugovoi, has resulted in a Cold War style declaration of 4 Russian diplomats and / or spies fromthe Russian Embassy in London, with equivalent retaliation against 4 British diplomats / spies in Moscow.

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Zero history blog

Zero History blog -

- documenting and analysing William Gibson's current novel in progress, with some London / UK locations already.

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Spook Country blog - htpp://

This documents and analyses William Gibson's novel Spook Country which has some London locations, and from which this London CyberPunk Tourist Guide was spawned.

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