Does your physics building suck too?

  • As many already know, studying for the physics GRE and getting accepted into a graduate program is not the final hurdle in your physics career.
  • There are many issues current physics graduate students face such as studying for their qualifier, deciding upon a field of research, choosing an advisor, being an effective teaching assistant, trying to have a social life, navigating department politics, dealing with stress, utilizing financial aid, etc.

What do you think of your physics building?

It's great... nicer than most of the buildings on my campus!
9
17%
It's great, but most other buildings on my campus are great too.
6
12%
It's OK.
18
35%
It sucks! It's much worse than most of the buildings on campus.
13
25%
It sucks! But my whole campus sucks too.
6
12%
 
Total votes: 52

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quizivex
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Does your physics building suck too?

Postby quizivex » Sun Jan 04, 2009 6:30 am

College students usually spend the majority of their academic time in one building, depending on their major. The atmosphere of the building has a substantial influence on the student's learning, productivity, and even social life. Important factors may include...

-Is the temperature comfortable and controlled consistently?
-Are there lounges or study areas where students can work together or chat?
-Is there a small cafe or refreshment area?
-Are the black/whiteboards in good shape?
-Are the chairs comfortable, perhaps with padding, or do you have to sit in those tiny pathetic desk/table contraptions?
etc...

I once had a discussion with a student from RPI about this and he said that the physics buildings at the schools he's visited have all been "crappy". At my undergrad school, the physics building is an absolute disgrace in lots of ways and it was filthy. The air was stale and the temperature was erratic etc... In the core classes I had in other buildings, all of which were nicer in some or many ways, I came to realize how much an effect your surroundings have on your experience.

I assumed when I came to Princeton that the physics building would be great. But to my disappointment, it's the crappiest of all the buildings I've seen on campus. In amongst all the beautiful old gothic castle-like buildings and the new state-of-the-art fancy ones lies the boring Jadwin hall. My E&M class was in an uncomfortably hot room, and my quantum class was in a freezing room. The hallways overall are dull. (Fortunately this won't affect me much longer since I'll end up spend most of my time at the plasma lab off campus which is a nice facility.) When I walk to Jadwin hall, I cut through a biology building which is really grand. Also, I've been in the geology building which has a lobby with awesome display cases of dinosaur fossils and rocks. Jadwin hall has... framed drawings of physicists... and a spark chamber that works once in a while.

So, I wanted to bring this up on the forum to see whether this is a national trend or just a small sample... What do you think of your physics building? How does it compare to the rest of your buildings on campus?

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dlenmn
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Re: Does your physics building suck too?

Postby dlenmn » Sun Jan 04, 2009 2:31 pm

"It's ok... nicer than most of the buildings on my campus..." would get my vote if it were an option.

The department moved to a newly renovated building (formerly the chemistry building) a couple of years ago. As best I can tell, the building was originally 3 sides of a square, and then an addition filled in part of the middle.

The outer part (which has all the classrooms, most of the labs, and a few offices -- such as my own) was renovated pretty nicely. Good lighting, decent HVAC, nice chairs and desks in the class rooms I care about, clean bathrooms, etc (the clocks/bells are wack though. They change times at random and for several weeks, the bell would go off at 11:37 and not stop until somone cut power to all the hallway lights... You'd expect more from a building full of people doing extremely precise measurements).

However, the inner part (which holds most of the offices, and some of the labs) is a dimly lit concrete dungeon with exposed ductwork and random crap (see 0:57) filling the hallways. In short, what you expect a physics building to look like. The powers that be also decided that the heating system for this part of the building needs to be replaced this winter. Oy.

However, everyone agrees that it's better than the old building, which at least had a reasonable excuse for not being in such great shape. At any rate, I feel good any time I walk by the Humanities building, which is possibly the most ugly/least functional academic building ever made (the pictures I've found online don't do it justice). A lot of the buildings on campus were made after 1950 and they just didn't age well, so many of the campus buildings are kind of run down (many pre 1950 buildings seem to have aged better).

marten
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Re: Does your physics building suck too?

Postby marten » Thu Jan 08, 2009 1:21 am

Whoa, dlenmn appears to be at the most Hollywood like campus, how does your department have the time to produce so many movies? Was the random crap staged, or are those real scenes from your building? Do you have pictures of the humanities building? This I gotta see. Ever buy juice from Armstrong?

We have one room on the 5th floor that is freezing cold in the summer, and boiling hot during the winter, definitely some HVAC issues going on. It is an old building, but most things seem to be in pretty good shape.

I strolled through the engineering building the other day, and it is hard to tell the offices apart from the labs, there is test equipment, materials, and tools all over the place. The physics offices just get messy with paper....

Image

Image


Marten

cato88
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Re: Does your physics building suck too?

Postby cato88 » Thu Jan 08, 2009 7:02 am

nice but its an ivy building so its a bit expected. NH also allows you buy fireworks legally unlike MA +++.

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dlenmn
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Re: Does your physics building suck too?

Postby dlenmn » Thu Jan 08, 2009 2:00 pm

marten wrote:Whoa, dlenmn appears to be at the most Hollywood like campus, how does your department have the time to produce so many movies? Was the random crap staged, or are those real scenes from your building? Do you have pictures of the humanities building? This I gotta see. Ever buy juice from Armstrong?


The third year students really go all out for the Holiday Colloquium -- they do some good work. A lot of the random crap really is there. I walk by it too often (although a lot of the shots were in offices rather than the hall). My favorite is the man sized oven, which I pass every time I go to TA a lab. It's bolted shut, but some day I'll bring a wrench and unlock its secrets... If an undergrad goes missing, I doubt anyone would notice... There's a lot of other quality junk sitting in the hallways. I should document it.

I don't have pictures of the Humanities building -- I'll try to snag some when I get back. More than anything, it has an absurd design, with random open spaces and castings. (And it's not that I hate Brutalist buildings in general, but this one is just too much.) I have not had Armstrong's juice, but I think that I've seen his cart (there's more than once juice cart). I don't want whatever crazy juice he's drinking...

I agree that Lehigh's physics building is in generally good shape. I'd put it in the nice old building category. I also spent a lot of time in Whitaker, which wasn't as nice. But I spent most of the time in a dark room anyway, so I didn't notice.

nice but its an ivy building so its a bit expected. NH also allows you buy fireworks legally unlike MA +++.


Martin's pictures are from Bethlehem, PA. I know little about fireworks laws in PA, but I do remember that a fireworks shop ~450 miles away put up a billboard in Philadelphia, so maybe that says something... For purposes of confusion, Dartmouth College (in NH) has a Sherman Fairchild Physical Sciences Center, which includes Wilder lab, home of the physics department. When it was first built around 1900, it was way too big for the department. However, it has since had additions on every side except the bottom and the front. Some of the additions have additions on them. (I'm not sure why, but the school loves building additions and keeping the walls and windows of the old buildings. So there are tons of interior windows. It's unusual.) While the oldest and newest parts of the building are nice, some of the middle parts aren't, and the integration isn't so great. There are also some HVAC issues, but there's almost no random equipment in the halls (instead, they have a big room in the basement full of it). Overall, not a bad building.

Image
Wilder is the one with the telescope domes.

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Andromeda
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Re: Does your physics building suck too?

Postby Andromeda » Thu Jan 08, 2009 8:01 pm

Person in limbo (done with ugrad, not yet in grad) posting here because I couldn't help but comment on the fireworks- the official law in PA is it's only illegal to sell fireworks to Pennsylvania residents. This is because the biggest firework producer in the United States is located in a town about an hour north of Pittsburgh. Regarding New Hampshire, I have an uncle who has a cabin up there and their neighbor is a NH State Senator. A few years ago there was a push to ban fireworks in NH so all the concerned citizens of the state started sending the senator fireworks, which he gave to his sons. My cousins fondly remember that as the best summer ever. 8)

Regarding physics buildings, every physicist I know considers my undergrad one to be the best on campus. Originally built a hundred years ago but rennovated ten years ago, and that made all the difference! Loved the blackboards but hated the fact that I was sure some of those wooden chairs were from the original construction. :?

And I know UMD is notorious in the decrepit state of their building. It's not unknown for the power to cut off suddenly and the like, ie wrecking havoc with experiments, and a few researchers have gone elsewhere as a result.

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secander2!
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Re: Does your physics building suck too?

Postby secander2! » Wed Jan 21, 2009 6:17 am

I'm not yet in grad school yet either, but I'm working at CERN for a year. Pretty much all the buildings are pretty old and very ugly... I wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry while reading Dan Brown's Angels and Demons.

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noojens
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Re: Does your physics building suck too?

Postby noojens » Wed Jan 21, 2009 12:40 pm

Cornell's pretty much sucks!

It's more a bunker than a building, and there's a giant construction project right outside!

Luckily I do most of my studying in the Hogwarts Library.

(Heh, studying- who am I kidding. I mostly just read comic books and chat up the scarfy bookish hipster chicks. Grad school is great!)

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naseermk
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Re: Does your physics building suck too?

Postby naseermk » Wed Jan 21, 2009 3:15 pm

UMN Physics building is archaic at best. Really old building and when you enter restrooms it seems you've stepped back in time (they have showers though).

I've heard that a new building is coming soon - they'd better if they want to keep all the Russian theorists here.

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twistor
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Re: Does your physics building suck too?

Postby twistor » Wed Jan 21, 2009 3:44 pm

It isn't much, but it was home for 4 years.

You can't tell from this picture but there is a very nice student lounge on the second floor, and a computer lab in the basement.

Image
Last edited by twistor on Mon Jan 26, 2009 1:13 am, edited 2 times in total.

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grae313
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Re: Does your physics building suck too?

Postby grae313 » Sat Jan 24, 2009 6:04 pm

noojens wrote:Cornell's pretty much sucks!

It's more a bunker than a building, and there's a giant construction project right outside!

Luckily I do most of my studying in the Hogwarts Library.

(Heh, studying- who am I kidding. I mostly just read comic books and chat up the scarfy bookish hipster chicks. Grad school is great!)


Yeah, the physics buildings here sucks. Cornell's campus is amazingly beautiful and there are spectacular buildings everywhere... but Rockefeller and Clark Hall are ugly and old as hell. Laaaame!

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noojens
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Re: Does your physics building suck too?

Postby noojens » Sat Jan 24, 2009 7:23 pm

what are they building in front of rockefeller, anyway?

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grae313
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Re: Does your physics building suck too?

Postby grae313 » Sat Jan 24, 2009 10:30 pm

noojens wrote:what are they building in front of rockefeller, anyway?


lol... the new applied physics/physics building!

The designs are posted in the basement of Clark and it looks sweeeet! There will be a cafe on the bottom floor.

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noojens
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Re: Does your physics building suck too?

Postby noojens » Sun Jan 25, 2009 12:08 am

haha, oh. i try not to go in the clark basement, it is dark and scary and full of pasty scientist zombies. hopefully the new building will have better offices! mine (the AEP MEng office) doesn't even have heat! ..but at least it's not in the basement :P

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Helio
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Re: Does your physics building suck too?

Postby Helio » Sun Jan 25, 2009 3:15 am

Yeah well how should I say... which one of the physics buildings... there is lecture hall which looks nice, one office building, which has the nickname star wars building, the is the 7-story ship that is shared with chemistry and finally the admin office in the campuses science lecture building. All pretty old and ready to be demolished. nothing new really

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twistor
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Re: Does your physics building suck too?

Postby twistor » Mon Jan 26, 2009 1:08 am

Nevermind...fixed it.

astrophysicist2b
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Re: Does your physics building suck too?

Postby astrophysicist2b » Tue Jan 27, 2009 1:23 am

I wonder how much of it has to do with the cold war science and science job market boom. I know most of our campus's ugly buildings (1 physics building included) were built then, and the architecture of that era was an atrocity. Brings me back to the days of middle and high school, where kids in fights regularly ended up being punched through the wall...

Hubble
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Re: Does your physics building suck too?

Postby Hubble » Thu Aug 27, 2009 12:19 am

Yes, but it is also shared with the Math Department. So they also get to feel the pain of an outdated, no A/C, heat is turned on far to late in the winter season, just needs a retrofit building. It is old and no one loves it. It was a great building from the pictures that I have seen in the 50's. Now it is just kinda sad and people hate going to class. Now the Chem Building, now they got a nice classrooms and it looks like their department actually gets money to fix the building.

slugger
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Re: Does your physics building suck too?

Postby slugger » Sat Oct 03, 2009 5:17 pm

They just moved our grad student lounge from a well lit spread on the second floor of the physics building to the sub-basement of the engineering sciences building--2 adjoining buildings away!!! Its right next to the boiler room now. I wish i were joking.

Failnaught
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Re: Does your physics building suck too?

Postby Failnaught » Thu Mar 08, 2012 1:11 am

Rumor (from a former math TA) has it that our main mathematics/compSci/engineering building has a ventilation intake right next to the central heating station's exhaust... And not the normal steam exhaust either! Apparently parts of the building smelled like weird exhaust fumes. The classrooms are terribly dim. The CompSci people are also there, so the elevators are (naturally) terribly programmed, being completely optimized to be as slow as possible. Since the engineers also use the building, the hinges on the door also creek.

Being a physicist, we have none of those problems. Our air is fresh, our elevators are swift, our rooms bright and our doors silent. However, our building is bud ugly, and the upper floors are usually too warm in the winter.




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