Thursday, March 02, 2006

I don't bend. I don't mean I'm a man of unwavering moral standpoints and a firm worldview. I mean that my genuflecting abilities are somewhere between poor and nonexistent. This makes kneeling at a Japanese table a little like trying to squeeze myself into a shoebox whilst wearing flippers and a stovepipe hat and continuing to remaining elegant and in control. It's not going to happen. Going through such a large growth spurt at the age of 16 or so left me with knees that don't do what knees should do. I fine meal of okonomiyaki (literally 'as you like it' - a pretty silly name for a dish IMHO) was somewhat impaired by my lack of flexibility though slightly lubricated with a pint of Kirin.

This clearly isn't me but it's the best picture of okonomiyaki I could find

I was joined (in fact treated) for this meal by some of the postdocs and PhD students from the Yukawa institute where I gave a seminar today. 'Flavour physics and the AdS/CFT correspondence'- the usual. I hope that it was far from a disaster but there were some very good questions which knocked me sideways temporarily. I'm not too bothered as I'm sure that most postdocs have this experience on a semi-regular basis. Plus they were genuinely good questions which have got me thinking in more detail about points that I usually brush over. In fact one of the world experts on the area I was lecturing on was in the audience and most of the questions came from his direction - Having chatted with him today, I hope to be able to learn more from him tomorrow.

The Kyoto University campus is large and tree lined with buildings ranging from 120 years old to brand new sparkly ones. The present Yukawa institute for theoretical physics is relatively flashy and has a great view of the mountains which surround Kyoto making it stiflingly airless in the summer.

It's strange going from Ochanomizu with only a few thousand students which feels homely and personal to this one which, though very pleasant, feels far more anonymous. The department itself is impressive and staffed by many great physicists in a very hardworking environment.

Anyway, before I shuffle to the land of nod, here are a couple of photos from the Japanese countryside at 300 km/h and from Kyoto station which is an interesting example of modern Japanese architecture, not captured terribly well by this photo but it's a fun building.

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