Durham Annual Theory Meeting 2007

19Dec07

This week was Durham’s Annual Theory Meeting, which I think is one of the highlights of the UK theoretical physics community. Theorists (including students) from across the United Kingdom come to Durham to interact with one another and keep up with some of the hot new topics in [high-energy] theory. The three day conference was the 100th event hosted by the IPPP and included a range of talks from the LHC to AdS/CFT. There was also a very timely town hall meeting discussing the recent events regarding STFC funding. Following Jester‘s style, I’ll try to recap a few highlights in follow-up posts.

A few random notes:

This year’s theory meeting was held in Durham’s new lecture theatre complex, the Calman learning centre. It’s a rather nice venue and is much larger than it looks from the inside. During one morning session a group of lost attendees (including a Durham lecturer) got lost trying to find the rear entrance to the lecture hall.

The hall itself was very spacious and smelled like new paint. If the department ever wanted to use the space for screening movies, they would almost certainly put the local Gala theatre out of business.

What makes these meetings such as this so special is that they really emphasize a sense of cohesiveness among the UK theory community. In a country as geographically large as the US, such a regular event would be impossible. It was very nice to see people catching up with colleagues from all stages of their career. (Dinner seating was roughly correlated to number of gray hairs.)
It was nice to bump into a few familiar faces from Part III last year, though most of my friends who are at Cambridge skipped the theory meeting in favour of the Very Early Universe workshop. (R. Kolb is a speaker at both meetings.)

It was a very nice pleasure to meet Tom from Queen Mary, who is the man behind the String Wiki. (He informed me of some new phenomenology links on the page.) In general it was a bit embarassing to meet a few people who knew me from my blog.

While in queue for dinner I was having a very pleasant conversation with an older gentleman regarding the differences between the US and the UK. It was only when we were about to split paths that I found out that he was L. Ryder, author of the [very excellent] quantum field theory text! I later had another nice conversation with Professor Ryder, and it seems we can expect a general relativity text from him in about a year!

This year Collingwood College hosted the non-local attendees. The food was excellent. (Last year had wine, but this year had a nice salad selection and very good desserts.)

R. Kolb got the best introduction, with an homage to his image as `Dr. December’ in the 1996 `Studmuffins of Science’ calendar.

It’s a bit awkward when people ask me what year I’m in. As an MSc student I suppose the proper answer is zero-th.

The conference organisers and local organising staff did a fantastic job — special thanks to them for once again closing another year with a great event.




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