Last night, London's BT Tower went mental. Twitter posters reported that it looked like it was about to explode or take off. But don't fear. It's not the end of the great phallus of Noho -- it's just a new lighting system. You know the lovely lights that gently lit up the BT Tower in a cycle of colours? Well, those bad boys are gone, replaced by the mother of all LED screens.
The screen is wrapped around the Tower's 36th and 37th floors, 167m up. It's built to resist the elements, and wind-tunnel tests have ensured it can survive 190km gusts and kamikaze pigeon attacks. It's made of vertical strips of LEDs, with space in between so that the wind can pass through without it taking off like an insane umbrella.
As with the more modest screens in some home TVs, red, green and blue LEDs give the screen its full-colour beauty. The new screen will be readable from Waterloo Bridge and visible even on a bright summer day. Its 177
separate panels consist of 529,750 LEDs. It has an area of around 280m2 and a circumference of 59m, which is the same as seven London buses
end to end.
Although the new screen will use more electricity than the Tower's old mood lighting, each LED will last many times longer than the old bulbs, according to BT.
BT told us that, rather than being a pilot-distracting menace, the Tower's new screen is welcomed because it's so bright that it can't be missed by planes -- or, rather, it can easily be missed by planes. BT denied that the Tower will contribute to light pollution, since, apparently, London is already so polluted by light that you can't make the situation worse even with the world's biggest LED screen, which, allegedly, is visible from the Moon.
BT also assured us that the Tower would not attract every moth from within a 1,000-mile radius, surrounding it in a heaving mass of winged horror. But what about Mothra, BT? Ever considered that?
The screen will start up in earnest during Saturday's lottery draw, and will start its life by displaying a countdown of the 1,000 days or so until the London Olympics begin. But the screen is a permanent fixture, and we hope that BT will heed our suggestion of a lottery for getting your own message on the big boy.