8 June 2013

Parabelrutsche: Is This the Coolest Slide in the World?

This slide certainly begs the question above. This is the Parabelrutsche which translates as the Parabole Slide.  Located at the University of Technology in Munich (Technische Universität München) or TUM for short the slide enables students and other visitors to make the journey from the fourth floor a little quicker than might be expected.

Image Credit Flickr User Digital Cat
The building in which it can be found was built in 2002 to host the Faculty of Computer Science and mathematics. It does look like it was based on an open plan prison - some students jokingly call it Alcatraz. Yet the Parabola Slide makes up for the otherwise rather bleak interior.

You may well be wondering how lax Germany’s health and safety laws are to allow for this sort of potentially dangerous public amusement.  In other countries, like the US and the UK for example, it is hard to imagine permission being given for this – the fear of potential law suits from injured sliders would probably frighten off an idea like the Parabola Slide.  Yet it seems that under German law, notices that you slide at your own risk cover any risk.  How very sensible!

Here are a group of students trying out the slide for the first time.  One sign near the Parabelrutsche tells people with ideas about novel ways of using the cycloidal tubes that 'Misuse of the slides will be punished with exmatriculation' – which sounds a far more serious threat than expulsion.  It didn't stop this guy trying it out with a bobbycar (link here - a 30 second ad at the other end first, sorry).

Image Credit Flickr User Digital Cat
Image Credit Flickr User Digital Cat
There are, of course, all sorts of myths and legends which have arisen in the decade since the slide was introduced.  One story maintains that a student decided it would be fun go down the slide using a food tray from the student refectory.  A broken collarbone and a visit to the local hospital later, he had time to reconsider the brightness of his notion.

Image Credit Flickr User Uwe Trottman
It isn’t possible to use the Parabelrutsche without one of the small carpets provided at its base – the friction burns that would otherwise happen don’t really bear thinking about.  So, people have to make sure that they remember the carpet before they go to class.  Sometimes, however, the obliging staff will take a whole cart up to the fourth floor to facilitate the absent mindedness of computer science students.

Image Credit Flickr User Digital Cat
Any fan of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy will, of course, be fine: they will have remembered their towel. So, do you think this is the coolest slide in the world? In my mind, possibly the only thing that could make this even better was if there was a pump system which allowed you to be pulled up to class as well.

Image Credit Flickr User Robin Zebrowski
Let us know if you live by or have visited a slide which you think is even cooler than the Parabelrutsche.

First Image Credit Flickr User Digital Cat