Thursday, April 12, 2007

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

I work at MIT one day a week both on microfluidics (with the Thorsen group) and, on my own time, cell modelling (with JackBackRack). MIT can seem much livelier than Harvard Medical School, but that's mostly due to the hordes of students churning down the 'infinite corridor' which connects many of the main buildings together.

I am becoming quite fond of the place for several reasons:
  • Everybody clearly tinkers with equipment to get the job done; surfaces are always covered in tools and technical detritus.
  • Departments are jumbled together in a very pleasing manner and smell of old schools (building 1 in particular). For example, as I passed a cabinet filled with 3D renderings of mathematical waveforms and a poster depicting reaction-diffusion models I could hear various musicians practising to my left. As I drew level with a skilful rendition of what sounded like Rachmaninov on a grand piano, I noticed that the door opposite was marked 'Scanning Electron Microscope room'. (Incidentally, the next door on the left housed a Dr Suresh for fans of Heroes.)
  • The Stata Center [sic] is the most wonderful place. It is the abode of the computer scientists and is composed of all things unexpected. The angles and curves disorient me but I don't mind, and its interior is brightly coloured in every way. The overall effect is one of infectious child-like enthusiasm and curiosity. The perfect environment.
Sean (the microfluidics lab manager) took me for a brief tour of some of the old interactive displays in the mechanical engineering department. They were mysterious and puzzling, reminding me strongly of the cabinetry in the Myst / Riven series of games (from whence Zork: Nemesis was spawned), as does the architecture of the Stata Center itself. I also recently met a curator of Musée Patamécanique and I think their exhibits might share a theme with those games. I will have to go and check it out!

No comments: