Monday, October 12, 2009

Conference observations so far

This is a nice gathering of people, and the organizers have done a very good job.  More discussion would be nice - the program is very dense.  A few (not very serious) observations:

  • I used to think that I was the only condensed matter physicist not working on graphene.  Now I realize I'm the only condensed matter physicist not working on graphene, iron pnictide superconductors, or topological insulators. 
  • Chinese ring tones are different than US or European ringtones.
  • One speaker inadvertently stumbled on a great, subtle psychological trick:  he used a font for most of his talk that is identical to the font (some Helvetica variant) used by the Nature publishing group for their titles and subtitles.  That font makes everything seem important :-).  He blew this aura of profundity it at the end, though, by switching to comic sans.
  • The Chinese groups that have been charging on the iron pnictides must have enormous resources in terms of people and equipment - the rate at which they are cranking out material and data is remarkable.  US materials growers seem very undersupported by comparison.
  • Laser-based angle-resolved photoemission, in its appropriate regime, is damned impressive.


Peter Armitage said...

Doug wrote:
>I used to think that I was the only
>condensed matter physicist not
>working on graphene. Now I realize
>I'm the only condensed matter
>physicist not working on graphene,
>iron pnictide superconductors, or
>topological insulators.

Speaking of which.... We are running a small workshop here at JHU in January. Topological insulators are one of the subjects. :)

Info can be found here...

Sue said...

This will make you laugh:

Douglas Natelson said...

Sue, yes, that did make me laugh. I don't really have much against comic sans, though I do think it's overused. I had a friend in grad school whose handwriting was exactly like it, though. Really. People used to think that her lecture note were typeset using a computer.

Charu said...

All's well that ends well, they say, but not so much in Science, methinks.

A visitor from China recently (and innocently) told me that during her PhD, she smoothed out all features in her data that she did not think should've been there.

I don't want to be judgmental here, but I have some reservations about Chinese science in general. Considering the enormous volume of work that is published, I wonder how much of that data is smoothed and unlikeable things ironed out.