Friday, May 19, 2006

The Word on a Shoe String

First a photo from the train with less than 6ft of bed space and the frilliest of pink covers.


Well, that was thoroughly enjoyable. Duty completed, I now have a few days in Nanchang to work in a relaxed place and see a few sights before getting back on the train for another overnight journey.

The talk today was actually great fun to give. After an hour of attempting to put my overheads in a form that could be projected and a while thinking that I'd have to do the whole thing on the blackboard (something that rather appeals) I gave the talk to about 25 people, mostly optics grad students and not a single one fell asleep, a phenomenon that happens all too frequently in physics seminars. I don't know whether the line I treaded encompassed enough people's knowledge but the number of heads nodding with agreement by the end seemed to suggest that I hadn't missed the mark completely.

Essentially I wanted to explain three things main things 1) What does a strongly coupled interaction mean, why is it a problem and what does it mean in terms of the theory on a D3-brane 2) Why you get gravity from string theory and why a D3-brane would warp spacetime to give you a strange 10d universe and 3) Why the theory of one can tell us about the other and what we can do with this fact. I probably had five too many slides for the time so I skipped a few bits when I realised that time was pressing and they weren't vital and after an hour and a bit I'd finished and explained pretty much what I'd hoped to. As I give more and more seminars I'm attempting to have fewer and fewer slides and spend more time chatting and repeating the important bits.

Here are a couple of photos of me in full flow.

Apart from that we spent most of today sitting around in the office chatting and going to great restaurants to stuff ourselves with fine Jiangxi cuisine. The department is a strange one with only three high energy physicists in residence. Two of them share an old lab as an office which they've decked out with luxurious leather sofas and finely fashioned desks.

The corridors also looked photo worthy so I got some snaps in the half light

and out of a window towards the setting sun I liked this distant street scene

Having topped myself up with a martini in the bar to sooth my tired throat it's time, once again to head to bed. Tomorrow we're in for some sightseeing to one of China's finest towers. Photos to follow.

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