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TRIUMF | Vancouver, BC | Canada

View Blog | Read Bio

Can a Physicist Get Excited about an Elevator?

by Nigel S. Lockyer, Director

The short answer is YES. And not because its an easier way to carry two cups of coffee without spilling them or because elevators remind me of Albert Einstein’s famous musings about acceleration and frames of reference. No, its because the TRIUMF main office building presently has no elevator.

The auditorium and the theory meeting room are on the second floor. During the rainy season (OK, let me be more precise, during the winter months), when Vancouverites are not enjoying beach volleyball by the thousands, pounding the Grouse Grind, sailing on English Bay, or picking up after their dogs, a few science-curious people (more than 100) show up at TRIUMF for two lectures on numerous Saturdays during the school year. Lecturers are from Simon Fraser University, the University of British Columbia, or TRIUMF.

Attendance is strictly limited by our auditorium size. People are turned away. Some gung-ho high-school students travel an hour by bus, drag their mom or dad along, and listen to lecturers about cosmology, radiation therapy for ocular melanoma at TRIUMF using a proton beam, the higgs boson, stars exploding…and so on. But what happens when grandma or grandpa shows up? Well sometimes she or he gets a helping hand up the stairs and in some cases it just doesn’t work…and they don’t come back. OK, enough is enough. Somebody build us an elevator!

Its not just for the public. When we have a Board of Management meeting at TRIUMF — a group of 40 people, vice-presidents of research from our owner universities — the on-site catering staff must carry 40 lunches and desserts up and down the stairs. Let’s see now, 40 people, who drink two coffees and one water, that’s 120 pounds, then add food…and it is a lot of trips. OK, enough is enough. Somebody build us an elevator!

Our former Director, one of the founders of TRIUMF, is Erich Vogt. A tall man, a heroic man. A bionic man…well at least a bionic knee. He fights his 80+ year old body up those stairs every day to his second-floor office. OK, enough is enough. Somebody build us an elevator!

Now a Vancouver hero and Olympic icon is Rick Hansen, of Man in Motion tour fame. He was a student at UBC and yet he hasn’t been to TRIUMF yet. One of my goals is to get Rick to TRIUMF. I am a big fan of his as are many at TRIUMF and in Canada. However, we can’t get him to the auditorium, since he is in a wheel chair. OK, enough is enough. Somebody build us an elevator!

Finally, we got it. Within about two months, TRIUMF will have a new elevator.

Oh, I forgot to tell you, it goes up only one floor.

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