Sunday, March 04, 2012

Beijing talks, Munich talks

Physically and mentally pretty drained right now. The week has been crazy and I am in dire need of another weekend. Today I've had a fascinating meetup with a researcher in memory who is, himself a frequent competitor in the world memory championships and is in the top ten in the world in a number of disciplines. His work is specifically about how memory techniques actually work, so we spent a very interesting couple of hours talking about this research and some of the fMRI studies that they have been carrying out.

I don't have much energy to write a lot at the moment (mostly thanks to my first squash game in seven years yesterday, which has left me barely able to walk) but I was sent some photos recently from last year when I was in China. I combined time at a conference at the KITPC with a number of talks to research departments about my work (at the ITP and the IHEP), but I also gave talks at a number of highschools around Beijing about frontiers in modern physics, about the history of the universe and the search for the Higgs boson and about why pursuing studies in physics is a valuable thing to do. Without exception I had dozens of excellent questions and at one particular school I have now been made an official scientific consultant (voluntary) and so act as an external expert on science questions when they have particular problems that they want to find out about - I generally direct them to resources as well as providing my own explanations. This school is also trying to set up a regular visiting scholar program whereby scientists who come to Beijing to do research at one of the many departments there can also come to the highschool to talk with the students about their particular line of research. This initiative is really to get the kids interested in relevant research and to bring something more cutting edge to the curriculum.

Anyway, this week I was sent these photos from one of my talks where I was talking to about 200+ students from four schools around Beijing:

Anyway, this was a lot of fun and I hope to do the same next time I'm back in Beijing.

Two weeks ago I also gave a talk at the Munich Nerd Nite. The talk I gave was on atmospheric optics and it was the first time I'd ever given a talk in a bar. There, also was an audience of at least 200 though there was a lot more beer involved than at the highschools. This time the talk was recorded and so here is me giving what I normally give as an hour long talk in fifteen minutes, hence the rather fast pace of it. Also note that my explanation for the 46 degree halo is incorrect - it's got nothing to do with pyramidal crystals, but comes from a very particular refraction through normal column crystals. My talk starts about 3 minutes in...
Anyway, that'll do for now. I've got another hour or two of work to do tonight and then I'm going to have an early night!

No comments: