William and Kate

Before the Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton in early 2011, they considered a variety of ideas to try to make the event even more momentous than it was certain to be.

I tried to suggest an idea to both the British Royal Family and to BBC News, where they could have done that.

I suggested that they find or create a high resolution photograph of the Queen and the Royal Couple. They would make that photo into a digital photograph of a specific type called a BMP file. I thought they might use a resolution of maybe 3000 pixels horizontally and 1000 pixels vertically. A BMP file has the format of three bytes (or nine bytes) of data for each pixel, where those bytes specify the three component colors of each pixel, as RED, GREEN and BLUE quantities.

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I then wanted the Royal Couple to let every schoolchild in every country in the British Commonwealth to have the opportunity to create a standard 3x5 index card which would have the correct color of one pixel on it. On the back of the index card, the schoolchild would print his or her name and age and country, along with two other numbers which he or she would get from a web-site which identified the exact horizontal and vertical location of the pixel in the image.

Then 3,000,000 schoolchildren would mail their index card to a specific address in London. Workers would take the index cards to an airport hangar where they would affix each index card to its correct location on many plywood panels.

On the night before the Wedding, construction crews would truck the many plywood panels into London, where they would be temporarily attached to the side of some large building, maybe 20 stories tall and 600 feet wide.

The result would be the largest photographic image that has ever been created, around 600 feet by 200 feet, which would be an image which would have remarkably excellent quality. The image would likely be clearly visible more than 15 miles away!

The most important feature of this project would have been that many millions of young children from everywhere in the British Commonwealth would have realized that THEY had participated in the Wedding, even if they never left New Zealand or Australia or Canada. A second important feature would have been that this entire project would have had very minimal cost!

This presentation was first placed on the Internet in April 2012.

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C Johnson, Theoretical Physicist, Physics Degree from Univ of Chicago