Discover Science City

Whether you’re a fresher or a postgrad, one of the best things about the University is its size and diversity – you can always discover new things about it. Impact Science takes a look at some of the ‘hidden gems’ and interesting facts about Science City, the mysterious group of buildings down by the East Entrance.

Whilst the Physics and Chemistry departments here epitomise all that is good about Science – expensive equipment, beards, gadgets, frothing test tubes and eccentric old men – there are other more subtle joys to be had here. One of the more interesting laboratories is the Nottingham Centre for Pavement Research. Offering delights such as ‘cracking pendulum tests’, ‘micro penetrations’ and a ‘ring and ball softening test’, this truly is one of the most exciting sounding facilities. Not just a source of amusing jargon, however, this department offers undergrads the chance to get to grips with the very pertinent problems facing pavement construction in the UK today.

Overlooking the Pavement research centre, up the hill towards Cripps sits the ‘Sir Peter Mansfield centre for Magnetic Resonance’. Inside, silently brooding, sits the main magnet, with a strength of over 100,000 times that of the Earth’s magnetic field. One of the main dangers of this magnet is the aptly named ‘missile effect’ – when metal objects accidentally brought into the room containing the magnet fly towards it in an uncontrollable fashion. Thankfully they’ve had no accidents here, but others have not been so lucky – one man in America had his jaw broken by a ‘flying’ metal oxygen tank during an MRI scan, and successfully sued for $150,000. The staff will tell you many an apocryphal story of women being stuck by their wedding or ear rings to the magnet until it’s switched off.

‘The Tower’ (that’s the official and inspired name) overlooks most of Science city, and provides a home to what a cynic might call the leftovers of the University – you’ll see floors dedicated to primary care, the odd architecture studio and some electronic engineers bemusedly wandering around. The sullen and overgrown brother of the graceful Trent building spire, ‘The Tower’ used to be used for charity abseils by Karnival, until the University got wind of the insurance premiums for such an audacious act, and that – as they say – was the end of that.

Of course, no tour of Science city could be complete without a mention of the Biology building café, where many an unsuspecting fresher has been pounced on by the enthusiastically maternal catering staff for not fully maximising their meal card allowance. So next time you’re down there, pop in for a sandwich or three and marvel at all the interesting and bewildering activity going on around you.

By Henry Blanchard


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