Christmas Parties here and there

20Dec06

A couple of weeks ago I attended the DAMTP Christmas party. It’s still up in the air if Part III students were actually invited to the DAMTP Christmas party, but isn’t being a grad student all about carpe diem and all that?

The party was ‘Sci-Fi’ themed, which meant there were plenty of robots and not one, but two Darth Vaders. The two Vaders had a brief light sabre battle on the dance floor later in the evening. Yes, it was a Christmas party full of applied mathematicians and theoretical physicists… and there was a Darth Vader versus Darth Vader light sabre battle. Certainly more geekiness than untrained humans would be able to handle! One student came as Stephen Hawking, though Dr. Hawking didn’t attend. The best “sci-fi” costume came from a lecturer, who came wearing a black t-shirt with the following printed on the front:

The Anthropic Landscape of String Theory.
Leonard Susskind. hep-th/0302019

It was actually rather humorous, since I happened to be wearing my “Stanford Physics” t-shirt… for which the aforementioned lecturer was a little embarassed, “ah, er… yes, you must have known Lenny.”

There was plenty of mulled wine and curry (curry?), and even a ‘kids room’ where they played The Nightmare Before Christmas. However, I did get an e-mail reminder that another Christmas party has just occured back in California… the UC Berkeley Department of Physics holiday party. (As a deferring student I get to stick around on the first year mailing list so I periodically get humorous e-mails from the ‘beer-men’ and people eager to celebrate after exams.)

Anyway, every year the first year PhD students at Berkeley present a humorous skit to the rest of the department. From what I could piece together from the e-mails, the premise this year was alternate universes (speaking of the landscape), including:

  1. A universe where Mathematica doesn’t exist.
  2. A universe where [popular theory professor] is Santa Claus? Spends all his time responding to e-mails from students and Christmas wishlists from little kids.
  3. A universe where prelims (preliminary exams, taken during the first year of PhD study) are very easy.

It sounds like my counterparts at Berkeley put on a good skit. Instead of a skit, the DAMTP party included a big quiz game hosted by a former UC Berkeley undergrad (and now a DAMTP cosmology postgrad). My table, “The Part III Crew” scored a 7 out of a possible 20. Our score turned out to be over the mean and median, thanks in large part to the St. Johns students who had joined us, but it still drew some teasing from our quiz master… who suggested that prospective PhD advisors take a good look at the party-crashers and our “not-quite-a-distinction” score.



2 Responses to “Christmas Parties here and there”

  1. I am still in doubt about if the student comming as Stephen H. was actually using Stephen’s backup chair. Which comes to another bad joke: to ask where actually the “Lucasian chair” is.


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