From Londonhua WIKI

Nicholas Johnson

Nicholas Johnson


For my Humanities and Arts requirement, my depth is in History and my breadth is in Art. In London two of my milestones were History focusing on World War II and one was Art focusing on Architecture. The two focusing on History are about British World War II codebreakers and The impact of the Royal Air Force on the Battle of Britain. My milestone on architecture focuses on three distinct architecture styles found in cathedrals here in London and surrounding areas. I have taken 20th Century American Foreign Relations at WPI, but that is the only Humanities and Arts class that I have taken prior to this trip. My main takeaways from this whole experience is the amount of rich history that is in London and what a wonderful world a global world is.

Milestone 1

Cathedral Architecture
Objective: Comparing the architectural styles of Cathedrals in England including Norman, Decorated Gothic, and Perpendicular Gothic

This project was about the styles of the many churches/cathedrals around England. I visited several of these to get a first person experience of them and photos. After outlining what makes the three chosen styles unique, those photos are then the basis for illustrating the differences between the styles.

The styles studied each are distinct, yet have influence on the styles that follow it. This concept was an interesting one to see and was a big part of the comparison aspect of this project. Yes, the pieces are different, yet you can see that the preceding style has shaped it. This was evident in both the written descriptions and the visual comparisons.
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Milestone 2

British World War II Codebreaking
Objective: The British Codebreakers effort to break Enigma during WWII, housed at Bletchley Park, including Alan Turing’s contribution, and the impact on the war from that accomplishment.

This milestone is all about the Enigma machine and its impact. The Enigma machine is a device that was designed to encrypt a message for the German Military during WWII. In the end, the war was shortened by the British breaking of the Enigma machine and how that was accomplished is described in this milestone. It was an impressive effort of tens of thousands of people to accomplish this. New technology was invented and old technology was used in new ways to break Enigma all spearheaded by mathematicians who would become heroes for their work in shortening the war.
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Milestone 3

Impact of the Royal Air Force on the Battle of Britain
Objective: The impact the RAF had on the Battle of Britain during World War II and how they were able to accomplish their goal of the defense of Britain.

This milestone is about the Royal Air Force, its major effect on the Battle of Britain, and how they were able to accomplish this task. It looks at the technical details of the aircraft from both Britain and Germany then moves into the British Fighter Command structure. The Fighter Command structure is a very large command and the system the British were able to put together is quite impressive. It coordinated forces from all branches of the military to respond to incoming aircraft that were detected by the new technology of radar. This system may have been complex but it worked exceedingly well.
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Activity Journal

The activity journal represents an ongoing log of reflections gained through each and every project activity on the calendar.

Day 1 Activity

This morning as a group we visited Westminster Abbey where we received a 2 hour tour around the site. We began in The Cloisters and then moved into the church where Gothic architecture was on full display. Many burials and memorial plates were visible all around the church. It felt inappropriate to step on them. Near the front of the Church, the House of Bath banners, where previous members were shown, were a really neat thing. Seeing how many were previously in each House was really interesting. Also, behind the altar was the memorial for pilots of the Battle of Britain which was a great commemorative touch. Henry VII's Chapel at the front of the church had some distinct signs of Perpendicular Gothic which is needed for one of my milestones. Unfortunately, pictures were not allowed inside, but I managed to get a few from the outside that still illustrated the point.

In the afternoon we visited the Tower of London in small groups. Some distinct items we saw were the White Tower, Crown Jewels, and Glass Cushion. Inside the white tower the travel through medieval times of armor and weapons was really interesting to see how armor has evolved to become more protective and more practical. The intricate detail on the swords used by the monarchy was unbelievable and very beautiful. The Crown Jewels exhibit took my breath away in the amount of jewels on each item and the amount that were made. The Glass Cushion was a very peaceful environment, quite fitting actually. St. John's Chapel at the tower is a part of my milestone but pictures were not allowed which will make things more difficult.

Lastly, we visited The British Library where we attempted to get our library cards but needed specific books to get them, so we will be going back in the next few days.

Day 2 Activity 1C

Today our group went to the The National Gallery. While there we saw many paintings throughout time. The amount of paintings and quality of them are astounding. Some notable artists that we saw were Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. Paintings spanned religion, landscapes, and portraits, but the majority were religious. There was not much that applied to my milestones, but the exhibits were still interesting to see and read the descriptions as there were some that were quite odd.

In the afternoon we joined up with our scavenger hunt group to work on getting pictures for the list. We ended up getting all but two of the items which we were quite happy with. Several of the items we found around Westminster Abbey while we waited for the Evensong service. The service was quite impressive, what they can do with their voice is absolutely amazing, also being inside such a beautiful building only added to the experience. Being only 45 minutes it was a short and sweet service that was thoroughly enjoyable.

Day 3 Activity 1B

Today our group visited the British Museum which is absolutely massive. With such a large footprint and multiple levels, it took a very long time to make it through this one, but it was time well spent. The amount of history there, the amount of pieces that are there is astounding. Of all the exhibits, the currency and clock showcases were my favorite. Looking at how currency has changed throughout history, how counterfeiting has changed. The clock showcase had all the different styles of timekeeping, even the ridiculous one that has a ball rolling around to keep time but didn't do it very accurately. Also being able to see the Rosetta Stone in person was really cool, another thing to check off the bucket list. There were some pieces that showed some architectural styles but nothing really directly applied to my milestones.

Day 4 Activity 1A

Today our group visited St. Paul's Cathedral. The cathedral is breathtaking, especially the paintings and mosaics. Unfortunately, pictures were not allowed inside the Cathedral which was quite disappointing. The most interesting thing for me was the book that honored the US and Royal Air Forces during World War II which was located behind the main altar. The crypts below were quite creepy and it felt weird stepping on everyone's grave, but it's not avoidable because of how many graves they put down there which is impressive.
This afternoon, in addition to working on my milestone, I also got my library card which was a painful but successful process. Some books are now on order but won't be in until Monday which is going to hinder my progress a little but I'll make do.

Day 5 Activity 1D

Today our group went to the Natural History Museum. The size of the museum is not obvious from the outside, as it seems it is a decent size building with multiple levels. After going through it seemed like it never ended, it just kept going. There were many amazing exhibits inside including many hands on ones. As a kid this would have been the best thing to ever have happened as there are many kid friendly exhibits. For me the two coolest exhibits were the earthquake house, that really moved the entire setup house, and the animatronic T-Rex that they had set up that had many degrees of motion and a roar that really shook you. There were a few exhibits that I wasn't the biggest fan of, not because they weren't good but just because I'm not into insects and fish. Other group members were loving it but that part dragged on for me. There wasn't anything at this museum for my milestones but in the afternoon I worked on my milestones at the library doing research but unfortunately some of my books won't be ready until Monday.

Day 6 Activity 2C

Today our group went to the Victoria and Albert Museum. Once again the size of the museum is just mind boggling. There was so much to see and with all the different sections in different parts of the museum I don't know if I saw everything. The wide range of items was an interesting thing, furniture was there, ceramics, sculptures, and many other things. The most interesting thing for me that I saw was the quick pick up collection. This collection is a unique one in that it includes movement style items, such as protest items and influential game changer items, and most are very current. The item the peaked my interest was the 3-D printed gun in the collection. It makes sense considering it was a game changer in terms of security, as the only metal part is the firing pin. Since the designs for it were put online anyone could access it which is a cool thing knowing it's possible but also scary in that it has some very bad uses. The museum did not have anything related to any of my milestones but I went to the library in the afternoon to get some good sources of information to continue working on my current milestone.

Day 7 Activity 2D

Today our group went to the Tate Modern. The building had an interesting design in that it had two halves separated by a large open central area. There were a few exhibits that required tickets which we didn't buy but there was still plenty to see. The layout of some of the rooms didn't make much sense and could lead you to a dead end which required you to double back but that just means more exercise. There were plenty of cool pieces and there were some why is this art pieces. One of those pieces was a white canvas with white paint so it was very boring. The more interesting pieces were the optical illusions, of which there were several. The oddest exhibit for me was the room of sacks, it was one of the largest rooms but only had this one exhibit and it made no sense. Modern art has some cool things, but most of it makes no sense to me as some could be done by a four-year-old. The tenth floor had a wraparound balcony which allowed for some great shots of London, including The Shard. Also visible was a pedestrian bridge spanning the Thames. Nothing here pertained to my milestones so I will not be revisiting it in the future.

Day 8 Activity 2E

Today our group went to the Museum of London. Inside there was the history of London and England from beginning to current. The Roman exhibit was really cool with the armor they had and the models of some key buildings. Some of the other notable items were the bronze map of London, first automobile taxi, and old cell phones. By far the best thing there was the Cauldron from the 2012 Olympic games, or at least pieces of it. They had many of the individual pieces there, but only a couple were set up in the partial shape of the original cauldron. One thing that I learned was that each one was a custom piece and not two were the same which is crazy. The linearity of the museum was a nice relief from some of the other museums odd layouts and allowed us to easily see everything without fear we missed something. At the end a nice cup of Hot Chocolate was great at the Cafe they had available. The Cafe had some really awesome time lapses from around London on a screen, from traffic to restocking an airplane. There wasn't really anything that pertained to my milestones here, but some events upcoming will.

Day 9 Activity 2A

Today was a day to work on Milestone 1. This is all I did today, sit back, look through photos and type away. There was no need to go to the library as all data was already gathered, just needed to tweak things and explain photos.

Day 10 Activity 2B

Today our group went to the Tate Britain. On the way there we passed MI5 which being a nondescript building makes it a little difficult to find but makes sense. It was interesting seeing how many cameras there were, the reinforced windows, and the very large and heavy doors there to protect it. Once inside the Museum it had many works but wasn't nearly as expansive as some of the other museums. There were a few sculptures and paintings that I would like to know what the artist was thinking when making it, but congrats to them for getting it into a museum. Surprisingly there was only one exhibit that required paying for unlike some other museums that had multiple exhibits requiring separate payment. On the way back we took a slight detour to get a good shot of MI6 which is a really cool building. The color of the glass really contrasts with the stone and being along the water I'm sure gives some great views for the employees.

Day 11 Activity 3C

Today our group went to the Hampton Court Palace. This place was quite far away from the flat and it was kind of a challenge to get to. We left a little early to make sure that we would be ok on time if there were delays. Sure enough there were several delays with trains that had ill people on them. This, coupled with the rerouted train on the way back, made the trip not so worth it. It was a large palace with beautiful gardens but I don't think it was worth the long trip. There were better places that we have already gone to that were much closer. Since we did go I think the gardens were the highlight as they were so large, it seemed as if they would stretch forever. What was disappointing was that they charged extra for the maze even though it looked quite easy and short so we skipped that. This excursion had nothing to do with any of my milestones so I won't be needing to revisit it.

Day 12 Activity 3B

Today our group went to the Museum of London Docklands. This was a cool trip as it took us a different direction than we have been going previously and got to experience a new line for the underground. The museum was a smaller, but interesting museum. One of the more interesting things there was the recreation of some of the living areas and atmosphere that would have existed. Also, there was a video explaining the preparations for WWII and the impending air raid and invasion. It was a pretty quiet day at the museum compared to some of the other museums we have visited even though there was a young student field trip there for a learning day. After our excursion to the Docklands we immediately went to the British Library to grab lunch and then worked in the Reading Rooms for most of the afternoon working on our Milestone 2 background in preparation for the weekly presentation meeting on Wednesday.

Day 13 Activity 3A

Today our group visited the Imperial War Museum. This is one of the best places we have gone so far with all of the amazing things it has inside. The first view you get of the museum is two very large guns for battleships from WWII and it only gets better from there. On the first floor it is all about WWI, the wars beginning, the equipment used during the war, gas canisters, a recreation of the trenches, and the final endings of the war. All of the artifacts on display were amazing especially the large artillery pieces. Moving up inside brings you to the second world war. On this floor they had several vehicles that were used during the war and also hanging in the main area were some as well. In the central area there were two planes, one WWII and one Harrier which is more recent. Also contained here were the V-1 and V-2 rockets which I never thought I would see in person, which truly are massive in scale. Up another level is more recent items stemming from the end of the second world war all the way to Iraq and Afghanistan. The nuclear exhibit including a recreation of Little Boy was really cool and scary at the same time. A section of the Berlin wall was also there to remind us of what occurred during those years. Some of the most recent pieces are the UN vehicle and the Light Armored vehicle used by the British in the Middle East. The end of the museum was one of sorrow as the Holocaust exhibit spanned two stories yet no matter how large it is could not possibly express what was done to those poor people. In the end it was a great museum and some shots of the WWII aircraft will help with my third milestone dealing with the RAF.

Day 14 Activity 3D

Today our group went to the Horniman Museum. It was a further journey than most locations but it wasn't as bad as one of the other ones. While there it was a pretty small museum but was tightly packed full of specimens. Outside the gardens were massive, spanning many acres. Taking a walk around was very soothing as it was a beautiful day to be outside. There seemed to be a photo shoot for a wedding or something like that happening onsite which got us a few odd looks for how under dressed we were for the occasion. In the end it was a cool but short museum with some amazing gardens. Nothing here applied to my milestones, but not everything will. Here in the afternoon there is plenty of time for milestone work to get done which is a good thing as there is much to do.

Day 15 Activity 3E

Today I worked on my milestone 2. I went to the library for several hours while working on my background. A lot was accomplished with much more that still needs to get done.

Day 16 Activity 4B

Today our group went to the London Science Museum. While the museum was expansive much of it cost extra to see. I paid for a few of the exhibits which were cool but weren't amazing like I was hoping they would be as they were really short experiences. Of the free exhibits the space exhibit and the computing exhibit were the best. The space exhibit had very few real objects but the computing one had many which was great. I had no idea that the British institutions participated in ARPANET but it does make sense with the goal of the project and wanting to push the boundaries with a transatlantic communication. With the transatlantic cable they also had a repeater used in the first operational one which was really cool but I was not expecting it to be so large. In connection to my milestones, there was an enigma machine here but it didn't really affect me as I've already seen plenty of them and have as many photos as I could ever need. Other than that there wasn't much of a connection to my milestones.

Day 17 Activity 4A

Today our group went to The Wallace Collection. It wasn't a huge place being only two floors, but it had many pieces ranging from ceramics to paintings to swords. The Armory was the best part of the whole collection as there was every version of every medieval weapon you could want. There were swords, maces, crossbows, pistols, rifles, and much more. The other rooms weren't nearly as exciting as most of the paintings and ceramics were similar to one another. In the middle of the building sat a nice courtyard with a cafe that I'm sure on nice days must be beautiful. As for connections with my milestones there were none here, although now after seeing some of the medieval weaponry I should have done a milestone in relation to that which would have been awesome.

Day 18 Activity 4C

No activity, just worked on my milestone. Went to the library for several hours and found some more good information to use in my background. The Enigma machine needs some more tweaks so that is still in the works.

Day 19 Activity 4D

No activity so more milestone work. Couple tweaks to the background but mainly worked on the deliverable Enigma machine. Still has some bugs that need to get worked out but mostly operational.

Day 20 Activity 5B

Just went to the library to gather information and try to flush out exactly what I want for Milestone 3. I now have a pretty good idea of what I want and have a plan. Some good background research was accomplished.

Day 21 Activity 5A

More library work for research on Milestone 3, nothing huge to report on. In the evening the entire group went to The Globe Theater for a production of Romeo and Juliet. Overall it was a pretty good performance, but there were a few scenes that was like, why is that here? As some things didn't feel like they belonged. The worst part was the downpour that occurred in the first half of the performance. As no umbrellas were allowed in the standing area everyone was soaked. Having a covered seat would have been so much better as everyone's legs were dead by the end of the performance. The walk to the bus station after the performance was a little rough with very stiff legs and ankles. No photos of the performance were allowed which was unfortunate as the makeup that they had on was very weird and something to make note of.

Day 22 Activity 5C

Today was another workday in the library for Milestone 3. More good information was found on the RAF and its command structure. There are a few things I am having difficulty finding but being persistent usually allows me to find these things eventually.

Day 23

Today the entire group went to Stonehenge. To get there a bus was chartered with a tour guide, but it was a little chaotic trying to get everyone together and on the bus, in the end it worked out. The trip out to Stonehenge took a while but we got some history of London, the UK, and Stonehenge on the way there. The weather was dismal while at the site but it wasn't a hindrance of the event unlike Romeo and Juliet. The visit felt like a check off a list as the actual sight was about as unimpressive as I expected. It was still a fun stop anyway. We then stopped in Bath for lunch and some history of the city. Everyone went their separate ways to find lunch, yet it seems like half the group showed up at the pub our group went to. The good was really good and filling, some people ordered the dessert that was a to die for dessert. Afterwards, we got a small walking tour of Bath including the abbey and the bath houses. On the way back to London we stopped in a small town which was quite exciting for the Harry Potter fans as several of the scenes were shot in the town. One scene was the house scene where Harry's parents die, the second was a graveyard scene. It was quite a cute town in its own right. After this was just a ride back to London with nothing notable along the way.

Day 24 Activity 5D

Today I went to the library to work on milestone 3. Some more information was added along with editing the background. The background should be complete after tomorrow's trip to the RAF museum for photos.

Day 25

Today the group went to Windsor Castle. It was a cool place to go and visit, definitely one place I really wanted to go while here. It wasn't nearly as big as I expected, there were only a couple of places allowed for us. Of the places we were allowed the Dollhouse was really awesome, but very extravagant. There really is no reason for it to exist but as with the royals everything is over the top. This was again evident in the apartments where there is a different room for every activity for each person. Due to this the apartments were quite large but as I have already seen the same thing at Hampton Court it was not too exciting. The highlight of the visit was seeing the changing of the guard when we were about to leave. It was a longer event than I was expecting but was great with the outgoing guard lining up and being inspected, then the band marching in with the new guard and do their exchanges before the old one marches away. It was something I've always wanted to see in person so now I've seen the changing of the guard in the US at Arlington and the UK even though with the same title they are very different.

Day 26 Activity 6B

Today was another day to work on milestone items. I worked on the deliverable for milestone 3 trying to animate things which is a very time consuming process but worthwhile.

Day 27 Activity 6A

Today was another working day for milestone 3. The animation work continued and some good progress was made.

Day 28 Activity 6D

Today I worked on milestone 3 animation again. Some tweaks have been made due to input about the UI but is almost complete.

Day 29 Activity 6C

Today was another milestone workday and the animation was finished an sent off to be uploaded. In the early afternoon I went to St. Martin in the fields to listen to the Cavendish Winds performance. The group is a quintet based out of London that was formed at the Royal Academy of Music in 2014. At the concert today they performed three songs: Ravel – Tombeau de Couperin arr. Jones, Ehrlich – By Air, and Danzi – Wind Quintet in G minor Op 56 No 2. By Air was a world premiere performance for the song by the group. It was a lovely performance but we did have a crying kid in the back distracting from it, unfortunately some people don't know what events not to bring kids to because really what were you expecting from a child during a 45 min performance with nothing for them to do.

Day 30 Activity 7C

Today was another day to finish up milestones. I worked on milestone 1 at the library to beef up my background on the architectural styles.

Day 31 Activity 7D

Today was more work on milestone 1. I went to the library to work in the air conditioning and to get more research. At the end of the day Manzo said the background was good so time to move onto the deliverable.

Day 32 Activity 7E

Today I went to Winchester Cathedral to get some photos for the deliverable of milestone 1 as things had to change. It was a little bit of travel but it needs to be done.

Day 33 Activity 7A

Today was the last day for edit on milestone items. It was a day that consisted out error checking all of my pages for typos, grammar errors, etc.

Day 34 Activity 7B

Today was a day to sit back as all assignments have been completed and am just awaiting grade results which may take a while as there are quite a few projects for them to look over.

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