SLAC Summer Institute 07: Dark Matter


The 2007 SLAC Summer Institute (SSI) is now underway. This year’s theme: Dark Matter: from the Cosmos to the Laboratory. As undergraduates my friends and I used to attend these lectures to listen to famous physicists give lectures. This summer, unfortunately, I’m five thousand miles away and can’t sneak into the back of the lecture hall.

No problem, though, the SSI organizers have made the effort to make their program by providing slides and streaming video online! Those who aren’t familiar with SSI can even catch up on past summer schools by watching the streaming videos from as far back as 1998! (You can look up the conference proceedings if you’re interested in older summer institutes.)

SSI talks are aimed at a graduate audience and, I have found, are great introductions to the field. They provide an excellent foundation for jumping into review literature as well as being a sort of an advertisement for different research topics. Also, don’t miss out on the summary talks of the past few years — they include quite a few gems!

By the way, kudos to the TASI school for also beginning to put up videos. It’s important to note that while these online lectures are a fantastic resource for the physics community (especially for graduate students), they are still a poor replacement for actually being there. Schools and conferences are where one remembers that physics is a social endeavor. There are some things that just can’t be streamed online: the chance to ask questions, attend tutorials, make new friends (and meet old ones) in  your field, and even start your `next, great collaboration’ over dinner.

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