Thursday, June 26, 2014

Gordon Conference thoughts

Because of travel constraints I'm missing the last day of the meeting, but here are some thoughts, non-science first:
  • These meetings remain a great format - not too big, a good mix of topics, real opportunities for students and postdocs to interact w/ lots of people, chances for older researchers to play soccer and ultimate frisbee, etc.  As travel costs rise and internet connectivity improves, there are going to be sensible reasons to have fewer in-person meetings of otherwise distant participants, but there remains no substitute for a good conversation face-to-face over a coffee or a beer.
  • College dorm rooms, while better than when I was a student, are still not high on ambiance.  Generic fitted and top sheets for bedding appear to be made from dryer lint.
  • Food options have become progressively healthier and tastier in general.
  • Mount Holyoke is a lovely campus, with very loud and happy frogs.
  • A session about cuprate superconductors correlated with the literal gathering of storm clouds in an otherwise sunny week.
  • About 30% of the audience got the reference (after about a 5 second delay) when, on a slide about magnetic interactions (\(J_{zz} S^{z}_{i} \cdot S^{z}_{j}\)), there was an unlabeled picture of Jay-Z.  
A couple of science thoughts (carefully brief to avoid violating the GRC policy about discussing conference talks and posters):
  • Cuprate superconductors remain amazingly complicated, even after years of improving sample quality and experimental techniques. 
  • Looking at driven systems is becoming very exciting.  Basically under some circumstances you can use light to flip on or off topological changes in band structure, for example.
  • It remains very challenging to figure out how to think about systems with low energy excitations that don't look like long-lived quasiparticles. 

1 comment:

Peter Armitage said...

Good to see you Doug. Glad you could make it!