Sunday, July 13, 2008

Back in the Wu

Somehow it feels like I never left. Everything here in Beijing feels so familiar. Stranglely the very fact that many things have changed feels familiar. You become used to the continuous dynamic of the buildings, the restaurants and bars, the flow of students in and out.

There's still building work going on at all hours of the day and night and despite the promises two years ago, the taxi drivers still don't have any English at all. It was said that during the Olympics, all taxi drivers had to obtain a minimum standard of English, but it seems that this idea has been dropped and foreign visitors coming to the games have been advised to only take taxis when they know exactly where they are going.

The weather has at least improved significantly from the first two days where the visibility was truly atrocious, and yesterday with temperatures around 35 degrees, we had a decent day of blue skies. Jet-lag was taking longer than expected so I crashed in the afternoon before going to catch up with some old friends in the evening.

Today I find myself in one of the same cafes I used to frequent where the coffee is strong (if not terribly tasty) and there is free wireless. Due, I believe, to a lack or regulatory enforcement, China is still the country with the most impressive wireless access I've ever seen, easily beating Japan, Korea and most of Western europe.

Today I'm attempting to finish writing a seminar I will be giving on Tuesday afternoon. This is one of the hardest seminars I've had to give. I will be talking about our latest paper on spectral functions in the quark gluon plasma form holography, which is something I talked about just last week in Munich. However, the Munich group has more string theorists per square inch than anywhere I've ever been, and a large number of them specialise in AdS/CFT. On Tuesday however I will be giving a talk at a conference on flavour physics, as an invited speaker. I've been to such conferences before and given overview talks on AdS/CFT, but to attempt to give a full-blown research seminar without losing everyone in the first few minutes is not an easy task! I'm going for lots of pictures and trying to repeat my main points in as many ways as possible without it becoming boring. Keeping this up for an hour and a half is going to be tricky...

It's going to be a learning experience for me at any rate. After this I'll be preparing a series of blackboard talks to a smaller group. This is all enjoyable, but means I can't concentrate on my research as much as I'd like right now. Still, I have scheduled a few discussion sessions with people here were I will find out what they've been up to since I was last here.

On a completely unrelated subject I'll leave you with a picture from the conference I went to a few weeks back in A Toxa, on heavy ion physics. A few of us went for a walk on our last day there. I waited back with another friend to take some photos and took this silhouette of multinational physicists disappearing into the sunset:

Anyway, better get back to generating graphics which will keep people on the ball!

1 comment:

DJ said...

ahaaa...I love the Beijing taxi drivers and miss complaining about my problems to them!