Wednesday, March 17, 2010

March Meeting - minor update

I'm at the APS March Meeting, and as it is every year, it's really too big.  I've largely been spending much of my time at sessions where my students are speaking or where I'm chairing.  One major point of the meeting is the networking that takes place away from the talks.  Even in these days of modern communications technology, there is still no substitute for sitting down at a table with someone and hashing out a problem with a pen and a pad of paper.  

There are two types of talks:  invited talks (30 min + 6 min for questions) and contributed talks (10 min + 2 min for questions).  Contributed talks are usually most useful to specialists in a field, since with that kind of time constraint it's almost impossible to give an intro to something new.  Occasionally, however, it is possible to learn something new from a contributed talk.  I just saw an excellent one by Kieron Burke of UC Irvine, speaking about how one can get from density functional theory (which sometimes feels like a mysterious black art) and get back to simple Thomas-Fermi theory.  The relevant paper is here, and I really do feel like I learned something.  More later....

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