How scientists relate to buildings

So I came across this article in Wired that seemed unhappy with the security at Los Alamos National Laboratory–perhaps a legitimate concern–but it also seemed unhappy with how grubby the LANL buildings were, which isn’t such a big deal. Let me explain. When I was a kid, double majoring in astronomy and physics, in university eighteen or so years ago, the things that struck me were the priorities of the professors in the engineering/science buildings on campus. One could walk by or through these buildings and see what shacks they were–peeling paint, dirty windows, hallways cluttered with boxes filled with photocopies of preprints. The machine shops where always busy and the instruments where first rate or at least adequate for job, but everything else was worn through heavy use. These scientists spent their limited resources on what mattered: gear and data. To most scientists, whether archeologists in the field or engineers at NASA, a building is a place that protects your data or instruments from the elements–that’s it. You want air conditioning? Well, you’d better hope they have a server farm, because otherwise you aren’t going to get it. They’ll spend money on the dewar’s flasks first before spending money on a masterpiece of architecture.

This entry was posted in Personal. Bookmark the permalink.