Saturday, July 5, 2008

Regina: Campus!

The University of Regina campus is a pretty unique place. Saskatchewan itself is very flat, and the winds (and Chinooks from Alberta -- winds coming over the Rockies at enormous speeds) get very fast and very cold. Temperatures regularly hit -40, and it doesn't matter what scale you're using then!

As a result, all of the buildings on campus are connected as part of one giant ring. Buildings either connect directly, via underground tunnels, or by specially built above-ground connections like this one. This is basically a greenhouse built entirely to connect the Education building (where we spent most of our days) to the student union (where we spent most of our lunches). It's almost entirely glass, with lots of exotic plants in pots and hanging from the ceilings. There is lots of natural light (and even full-spectrum artificial lights at night). Any Tech student knows the importance of getting your sunlight in winter!

We could easily get from the dorms to our various work rooms without ever going outside -- down the elevator, through the tunnel, down the walkway, and into the next building! Then for lunch, head through the greenhouse and there you are!

Regina is so cold that most cars are built with a special wire running around the engine block which connects to a plug on the front. In the winter, you can plug your car into one of these little posts, which are located in front of every single parking spot at the university. The "engine block warmer" apparently warms things just enough that you can start your car and get the heck out of there!

Another interesting fact is that apparently our favorite hotheaded French Mathematician, √Čvariste Galois, donated to the construction of the University of Regina Library. Or at least, someone donated in his name:

For those who don't know the story, check out "Final Days" at that link -- he fundamentally changed mathematics even though he only lived to age 21!

I think I'll be writing one more entry about Regina, this one about the various cool and amusing people I met there, and the trip home. Stay tuned for the thrilling conclusion!

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi David,
I work at the U of R, and I'm glad you're enjoying your time on campus! Just wanted to let you and your readers know that the chinook winds that come from the Rockies actually provide very welcome WARM air in the wintertime, not cold air :) And, yes, there are a few winter days when most cars won't start unless they're plugged in. Luckily it's only that cold for a few weeks each year.
All the best,
Mackenzie

David said...

Hi there Mackenzie,

Gosh, I feel internationally famous now that you're reading my blog!

Thanks for the clarification on the Chinooks. I know that the high-speed winds are kind of crazy, but I didn't know that they were still warm after they made their way through Alberta.

We have some pretty harsh winters back here in Michigan, but it never gets cold enough that we have to put engine-block warmer plugs in front of every parking space!