More Part III Talks


Today brought more student ‘Part III talks’ and the beginning of the six week Easter break. (Also known as the six week Easter essay-writing-and-course-revision period.) After having fun giving my talk yesterday, today’s talks were a chance to really appreciate one of Part III’s strong points: the other students.

Some of the Part III courses you can find anywhere (e.g. QFT), while some are rather unique (e.g. the fluid dynamics of swimming organisms). What’s really special is having a group of 200 very good young mathematicians taking those courses and interacting with one another. The chance to have regular dinner conversations about theoretical physics is priceless, even at the cost of Saturday morning lectures.

Today’s really cool talks included two given by a couple of my friends: “Differential Equations, Jet Spaces and Contact Transformations: Toward Cartan’s Equivalence Method,” and “An Introduction to Lattice QCD.”

The `differential equations’ talk started off with the statement, “This will be the easiest talk you hear. It’s Part I-level. So first I’ll about differential equations. Differential equations, jet spaces, and contact forms.” I couldn’t help but laugh after this, though I don’t think it was intended as a joke. Actually, the talk was at a perfect level: it introduced mathematical ideas using examples and in a language that physics students would understand. Also it included the following line:

“First, some history. In 2047, Professor Tomato discovers the final theory. The theory looks like this. [Writes some differential equations.] I can’t write the explicit form because that would give away the surprise.”


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