Thursday, September 07, 2006


What of this week so far? Well, busy as always, working really hard on an AdS/QCD problem which seems to be resolving itself slowly but surely at the moment. There has been a great deal of work over the last year or so on creating phenomenological holographic models of QCD and two recent papers have offered exciting advances in this field. However, both of these papers admit to having gaps and big question marks in some parts and this leaves a good opportunity to find less than obvious answers to the obvious questions. So, that's what I'm doing together with a postdoc and a student here. It's a fun collaboration at the moment and we hope to be able to get some good results in the not too distant future.

One of my other collaborations is currently taking place between here, Poland and Japan and Skype is proving to be a valuable tool in keeping us all on the same page.

After the trip to the art community (see previous post) on Saturday I headed out to the local Korean pool hall followed by a local club. It's currently fresher's week here in China though there weren't any signs of that in the club as there would be in England. On my campus there was the usual set of fresh-faced, slightly nervous looking new students though there was a definite absence (at least from my slightly detached point of view) of the debauched goings-on which seem to go hand in hand with a European first week at university. The lack of piles of vomit, overly self-conscious girls with far too much makeup, and recently bestubbled boys looking rather pleased with themselves did little to make me homesick.

Other than that, Monday evening was a good, three hour session of English corner which is continuing to be a great source of enlightenment for me in terms of the student's lives and thought patterns. All of their English is good enough that really it's a chance for us to chat and find out a bit more about everyone's ideas and backgrounds. Starting off with a debate about business ethics, we quickly got sidetracked into many issues, both personal and global and finally we had a game which was essentially 'truth or, er, truth'. Next week I suggested we all go for a picnic in one of the Tsinghua University parks which should be a nice break from the office.

Yesterday evening I was due to start teaching private English lessons once a week, though my student was stuck in a business meeting leaving me time to sit in the office and continue increasing the number of mathematica files stuffing every nook and cranny in my computer.

Today was my first Chinese lesson for almost four months and I was happily surprised to see that although my written Chinese has deteriorated, my spoken Chinese has increased a great deal in the mean time. Generally I speak my best Chinese in taxis where I have nothing else to do and the drivers rarely speak English. It's a good chance to run through some topics which I'm likely to know most of the vocab for. With a little under half my time here already elapsed, I do want to concentrate on the spoken side so that when I leave I can at least hold a basic conversation which isn't just about where someone's from and whether they've eaten their lunch or not. I WILL get there!

Tomorrow I must devote to finishing a research proposal I'm currently writing for a postdoc application. It's a long process but good for getting a lot of my thoughts in order. Anyway, again it's getting late in the office so I should head back for a bit of reading and a good sleep.

In the mean time, thank you to Uncle Pee for sending me a link to this superb juggling video from the World Juggling Federation. Having just been giving an excellent five ball set I now have something to aim for, though I need a really really big telescope to see it. Five ball Mills-Mess (as seen on the video at 26 seconds) is my aim for the next five years. Seven club juggling I will need to lose both my job and my sanity to aim for.


Anonymous said...

hi! here just fr a coincidence!!
this is my blog

Anonymous said...

Hi Jon

Thats cool, u use skype, pls add me as ur friend.
Mine is shelleyxu616

Unknown said...

Hi Shelley,

Cheers, will chat with you soon.

All the best,


Anonymous said...


Message received loud and clear. Glad said package arrived in time. Glad you haven't read the bottom.
Glad you haven't got a red bottom.

Unknown said...


It's proving a terrible distraction having it sit so close, not only with whatever is inside taunting me but also knowing that what's inside is written on the outside is far from easy to ignore.

Will wait though.