TAMU Physics building: Beauty and Brain

    Just a few months ago, only certain people could go inside to inspect the construction, and everyone permitted had to wear hard hats. Now, driving on University, it would be hard to miss the gigantic banner leisurely hung to announce a brand new presence, that was much awaited and is worth every minute of effort put into it. The two physics buildings at A&M are a charm, and doesn’t one of them (left picture) remind you of some famous structure? (Hint: something in New York).

    Seven stories high (including the basement for laboratories), the newborn Mitchell Institute now houses the high energy theorists and the astrophysicists, as well as a brass Foucault pendulum complete with a full electronic protractor. Marking a crimson comet tail along its path, the pendulum pridefully swings across the floor, its movement sparks gratification in the eyes of Prof. Edward Fry, the department head. (For comparison, the pendulum at the Houston science museum is tracked by knocking down wooden pegs, much less chance for malfunction and more eco-friendly, I guess?). And just to entertain your scientific mind, every step you make on the first floor is a step on a mathematical pattern, known as Penrose tiling (pictured below). If one tile is misplaced, the whole pattern is destroyed. I wonder if the architect, Michael Graves, had drawn the floor precisely to each tile, to make sure that the construction workers got it right. But I do know that Prof. Glenn Agnolet, the main supervisor of the project, had at least once caught a mistake before it was too late, and that was just among many nameless incidents occurring and overcome in the four-year span of the construction. Each such incident cast an extra amount onto the total cost in this skimming economy, and the generosity of George P. Mitchell alone would not have been able to bring the buildings to completion. Thus, the two buildings bear proofs that Texas A&M physics professors are not only experts in their fields but also charismatic businessmen, proficient managers, and visionary designers.

    Fresh and spacious, the interior has an unscathed beauty, with unadorned walls, long hall ways, tall glass windows, offering a full view to my most favorite part: the rooftop garden, which is accessible from the third floor. Give it a few more months, and the now barren poles will be embraced with vines, forming a green canopy. The small trees will grow, the flower beds will thicken. Young birds will make this garden their new homes…

    … and young Physics students will aggregate here, with wholesome pride.

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    5 comments to TAMU Physics building: Beauty and Brain

    • Jason

      The pendulum would have been cooler with a scintillator in the ground and a radiation source in the pendulum. Wouldn't it be great for it to draw traces of its movement? Oh well..

    • Ubercmuc

      Make it, Jason! I'm sure Dr. Fry would welcome your design.

    • Beverly

      A fantastic observation and we are so proud to be in this special building we have been anxiously awaiting. You've done a great job and you pictures are wonderful. Thanks….Beverly

    • Tyler

      The building is amazing! The make these load "ka-CHUNK" sounds when they unlock. The labs are also extraordinary. I hope you are doing well in Cal!

    • Tyler

      correction* The doors make these loud …

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