Friday, May 30, 2008

Solving the World's Problems, One Plot at a Time

Whereby "the world," I really just mean mine. Some time ago, I stated that the worst part about being a graduate student (in the astronomy department!) at Ohio State is that our offices get stupidly ridiculously hot for several weeks each year. Apparently our department chair, however, finally got the message across to The Powers That Be that 85° offices are not conducive to productivity, and this year we were spared the fortnight-long saunas.

Well, at least the temperatures were fine during the days, but come weekends, or heaven forbid, after dinnertime, the office temperatures would once again climb. The department secretary, who of course is only in the building during "standard" office hours, tried to assure us that this was because "if the AC breaks over the weekend there isn't anyone around to fix it." Then how come, we wondered, every Monday morning at 9am the AC was so quickly "fixed"? One of my officemates was convinced that the patterns we were observing were due to the AC being simply turned off outside of business hours. So, we started recording the date, time, temperature set, and temperature recorded (by the presumably reliable thermostat):

That little peak on the right there corresponds to Memorial Day weekend. On Monday I was clever enough to leave before the office reached 90 (the thermometer on the thermostat, by the way, maxes out at 85°; someone in another office had a real thermometer and mentioned such numbers the following day). Tuesday morning, the temperature decreased dramatically. We sent this nice little plot to the department chair, who then forwarded on to The Powers That Be, who, we found out this morning, used it to unravel the great "mystery": the air conditioning in this building was being automatically turned off at 5pm and turned back on at 8am—and left off for the entirety of any given weekend. We have been assured that this miscalculation of when astronomers work has been remedied.

4 comments:

Prospero said...

A few years ago at Vanderbilt, they were doing major construction for a nano institute in the Physics building. They had this idea that they could do power outages on weekends with only minimal notice because, after all, it's the **weekend**, and people don't work then. Never mind that, say, the person who is able to rescue his few computers will be in Chile doing observations and depending on those computers, or that, say, there might be HST time scheduled over the weekend.... (Particle physicists had the same deal.) Eventually we managed to convince people that just shutting down our computers was **bad**, and that if you needed to do it you had to not only warn us, but talk to us ahead of time and actually plan for it.

mollishka said...

Oooh yeah power outtages would be way worse, functionally. But easier to convince people that they actually happened ....

Marc said...

You're lucky the Powers care enough to keep you comfortable. I've worked at more than one place where I explained that I would not be in the building during the warmer months if the ventilation system wasn't running, and if that was bad for productivity, then too bad. And it was, and it was.

udoj said...

Y'know. These blog things?

It's customary to update them once in a while...

Just sayin'.

:)

Kisses Mollishka