Well… It was burning down. One of the science blocks was destroyed yesterday after a fire spread through the building.
Southampton University has a global reputation for its computer and science research, with a lot of the UK’s best work happening there. Currently the fire is not being treated as arson but some kind of accident.
I feel so sorry for the people who were studying there. Now I’m nearing the end of my PhD I’m backing it up all over the place to make sure that I stand the best chance of not losing anything, but I would hate to think what it must be like for the students there to have lost so much of their work… It’s not just work though, it’s a whole piece of your life. The important things are there: no-one was hurt, everyone is still healthy and in full working order, but a PhD becomes a huge part of your history. To put it into terms that are more easy for a non-academic to associate with, to lose five years of research would be like losing all photos and movies from that time.
Perhaps it’s worth mentioning too that Southampton University is very closely affiliated with the University of Winchester, where I’m studying, and I’m pretty sure it will be them that award me my PhD when I’m done. This fire doesn’t effect my work at all, but the shared loss of other researchers is still a strong emotional event!