Sunday, 13 February 2011

Computer Science meets King's Cross

Platform 9 3/4, from
I haven't been to London for a while, but I was there last week to give a talk. As I got off my train at King's Cross, I thought I heard an announcement: "The train currently standing at platform zero is the...". What? Platform 0? I listened to check I wasn't hallucinating, and there it was again: "Platform zero for the ..."

Now, I know King's Cross quite well, I thought. It has eight platforms on the main concourse, and also platforms 9 to 11 hidden away in their own private little siding. (Forget finding platform 9-and-3/4s: I've know people fail to find the real but well-hidden platform nine!) But platform 0? Srsly? Only computer scientists start counting from 0!

Platform 0, cropped from
So when I got onto the main concourse, I checked, and sure enough, there were signs to platform 0. When I got back in Google-range, I consulted that fount of all knowledge, wikipedia. Yes, there is now a platform 0, as part of the refurbishment scheme. On the one hand, it seems a shame they've gone with platform 0, since that means platform 9-and-3/4 is still a "mistake" (there are tracks, not platform, between 9 and 10). But on the other hand: platform 0. Cool.

So I was disappointed to discover that once the refurbishment is completed, the platforms will be renumbered, starting from the much more unimaginative 1. (Presumably resulting in hilarity for all concerned as the zombified commuters, with the current numbering scheme hardwired in their cortexes, start making off-by-one errors, and end up scattered all over the country.)

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