Tuesday, November 15, 2005

No pictures this time I'm afraid and I guess the weeks will generally not be great for sight seeing. I've been working pretty hard the last couple of days mainly preparing my talk for Saturday. Today we had a group meeting and this time the whole thing was in Chinese. I figured I should stay because I could read the slides. Unfortunately, though interesting for those involved in it, the first talk was all about how to write reusable computer code. After he finished his 21 slides in a little under an hour I was relieved that it had gone pretty quickly and I could understand what he was talking about. However, he then proceded to talk for an hour and a half while coding in real-time on the overhead projector. I've no idea what he was doing and I think this wasn't the language barrier. I suggest that seminar format is not the best medium for teaching C++ error handling in real-time. The next talk was a student seminar about the standard model which I felt no qualms about reading a paper (scientific) during as half the audience seemed to be doing the same thing.

It's a bit strange about my talk for Saturday. I'm talking to a group of people who have no background at all in what I'm going to be telling them. This isn't a problem as I intend to give them an overview of the path between their area of knowledge and mine. I've been asked specifically however to go through some technical calculations. I'm somewhat loathed to do this, not because I'm unable to but because I don't think that it will help anybody. I've always thought that unless you're actually teaching a lecture course, detailed technical calculations are more likely to confuse than elucidate an audience. Anyway, I've put in a single complex calculation to keep them happy but I'm going to try as much as I can to give them a pedagogical tour of what I do. If they want details I can talk them through it personally and show them my papers but I shan't be deriving everything for them on Saturday.

Well that sounded almost like a rant....perhaps. It's been a bit of a strange day with people sending me in all sorts of different directions with half instructions relating to my various admin tasks that I must complete before settling in. I guess this along with having Chinese chatter around me all day is likely to do strange things to one's mood.

Hopefully this weekend I'm going to be meeting up with some Europeans in another part of the city. I don't want to spend my whole time with the expat community but I think, without fluency in Chinese, I'll go stir crazy if I don't get any external conversation.

Another positive thing I've found today was that the Chinese have a deal with a particular publishing company in the UK which means that a lot of scientific books are extremely cheap. Polchinski, Weinberg and Peskin and Schroeder are all a tenth the price of those in the UK so I've got a couple of books on order. In fact you can buy the whole Landau and Lifshitz series for about 30 quid.

Anyway, I probably shouldn't write when I'm overtired and somewhat overworked. Good to hear from those of you who've been e-mailing. It makes a big difference hearing from friends back home.

Before I forget, yesterday's lunch was frankly a bit of a pig's ear. Actually I think it was several pig's ears. Not bad though I'm pretty sure they ain't kosher.


Anonymous said...

You'll go crazy??!!!! No comment!! haha!! Wheels xx

Jonathan Shock said...

It's a pertinent point. I rephrase: crazier.

james pothecary said...

You may say that whats it ans so and so's book is cheaper but what about books for normal people? Harry Potter?

Jonathan Shock said...

I think you can buy the whole set for about a fiver. Unfortunately in most bookshops there are only two books in English. One is Harry Potter, the other is The Brothers Karamazov. The obvious choice!