The time a bus went boom outside a conference I was organising

I was looking for something else in my e-mail archives and I just came across this blast from the past. During my time at the Warwick Business School’s Data Science Lab I led the organisation of an international conference with 50 speakers and 300 delegates. It was a deeply stressful few days which became much more problematic when Warwick security intervened to ask me to evacuate the conference because a bus was on fire outside the building. During a keynote talk about clandestine terrorist networks (I am not kidding!) I had to run to the front and ask everyone to calmly evacuate because security had told me a bus was about to explode outside. It left me with a fascination with ‘breaching experiments’ because I suspect I’ve never surprised a room full of people as much as I did with that announcement nor am I ever likely to do again in future:

Unfortunately trying to get hundreds of computational social scientists to move a safe distance away from an enormous visual spectacle is not a straight forward exercise. I’m going to look through old pictures to see if I still have the pictures of hundreds of data scientists almost uniformly trying to take tweetable/instagaramable shots of the bus which eventually collapsed into a molten hunk of metal while we are all watching, thus making a lie of the old adage that a watched bus never boils.

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