Saturday, April 28, 2007

Upcoming KITPC events

It was almost a year ago that I first wrote about the KITPC (Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics in China) when David Gross came out here prior to Strings 2006 to announce officially the deal to build the KITPC. (original piece here).

Well, the building is completed, there are people milling about in there and the interviews which I mentioned a couple of posts back were for management and computer staff for the department.

At the end of May the KITPC will officially open with a ceremony filled with the great and the good. Fred Kavli himself will be out here as will David Gross, Shing-Tung Yau and many other eminent physicists and mathematicians from around the world. We'll be heading back to the Great Hall of the People for this and I'll report on events as they happen.

Anyway, one of the reasons to write this post is as a piece of advertising. This year there will be two programs running at the institute.

The first is a two month program starting in June on "Quantum Phases of Matter" and the organisers for this conference are Sankar Das Sarma, Eugene Demler, Yu Lu, Fu-Chun Zhang and Xiao-Gang Wen. It says the deadline is over for applications for this program but it's always worth a go.

The second program is more relevant for my work and looks like a superb event. "String Theory and Cosmology" will run from September 1st to December 15th and is being organised by Miao Li, Shamit Kachru, Eva Silverstein and Henry Tye. The blurb reads as follow:

String theory is the best motivated theory that can address fundamental issues like physics beyond the Standard Model, the origin of our universe, the quantum nature of gravity, the mystery of black holes, dark energy, supersymmetry and the dark matter.
Studies of the cosmic landscape, model/vacuum building and time-dependent solutions are making contact between theory, phenomenology and cosmology in new and exciting ways. WMAP and PLANCK, together with LHC, have begun to usher in a new era of string cosmology and string phenomenology.

This program aims to take advantage of all these recent and coming developments, with a slight emphasis on cosmology. The program hopes to bring together string theorists with an interest in phenomenology and/or cosmology, and cosmologists, particle astrophysicists and phenomenologists who are interested in new ideas coming from string theory. Mathematical string theorists who are interested in these issues are most welcome.

There isn't much more information up there yet but the idea will be to have lecture series and workshops running through the three and a half months with people staying in residence at the KITPC for varying lengths of time.

This is a great chance for China to represent itself once more on the world stage in its scientific capacity and a part of that is for others to come and see Beijing at work.

I wrote a piece just before the strings conference last year as a Beijing survival guide which people responded well to. I'm very happy to answer any questions, either by e-mail or in the comments if people have queries about coming here. That includes information about China and information about the workshops. I can ask for the website to be altered or added to as people see fit (not that I have any great power over it but that those in charge are down the hall).

It's been my pleasure over the last couple of years to help several people make up their minds to come to Beijing either for a long time or for a holiday and then to settle in. Many people don't realise that Beijing really isn't such an alien world and is certainly a highly developed city, with both running water and electricity - and more internet connectivity in the cafes than I witnessed even in Tokyo.

Anyway, I think that these events will be a fantastic chance both to bring together some of the top scientists working in these research areas and to see Beijing as it readies itself for the 2008 Olympics.

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