Drinking from the firehose (of knowledge!)

One more thing checked off the "living in the UK" bucket list: mailed something through the iconic postbox right outside my house. (Normally, I mail things via the college porters, but this was a pre-paid envelope.)
One more thing checked off the “living in the UK” bucket list: mailed something through the iconic postbox right outside my house! (Normally, I mail things via the college porters, but this was a pre-paid envelope.)

My big event this week was IOP (Institute of Physics; it’s basically the European equivalent of the American Physical Society) Magnetism 2015 conference at the University of Leeds in Yorkshire. It’s been a crazy couple of weeks between analyzing data, preparing my talk for the conference, and finishing up some more experiments right afterwards. I’ve only just found the time today to do some basic things like respond to people’s emails, cleaning my room (for the first time in quite a while…), laundry, and, yes, updating this blog.

Taking the bus to the University of Leeds campus on Monday, after an early morning train.
Taking the bus to the University of Leeds campus on Monday, after an early morning train.

Anyway, I don’t know how interesting the details of conference proceedings are to those outside physics/academia. Conferences, at this point in my physics career, are very much like trying to get a drink of water by standing in front of a firehose with my mouth open; there’s just too much new stuff to take in to really process much of it. Still, giving a talk is a great learning experience, and it’s always cool to see what other people in the field are doing, even if you have to ask them to use small words to explain their poster. Here are a few highlights of the trip:

An interesting building at the university.
An interesting building at the university.
  • Not making any huge mistakes during my talk, and finishing exactly at the right time!
  • Finding out that the guy who asked the only question after my talk (and kept talking to me when I ran into him at the tea break afterwards) was, in fact, a really distinguished physicist and the plenary speaker. Hope I didn’t come across as too much of an idiot…
Colleagues on their way to conference registration.
Colleagues on their way to conference registration.
Up front: plenary speaker Stuart Parkin (2014 Millennium Prize winner, IBM Fellow, and  Cambridge alumnus).
Up front in the suit: plenary speaker Stuart Parkin (2014 Millennium Prize winner, IBM Fellow, and Cambridge alumnus).
  • Checking into the hotel and discovering that the group secretary had booked us all individual double rooms. I’d assumed when I saw the “double room” invoice that we would be sharing, but no. All the better to watch the BBC and chill out after the conference dinner!
One of the nice old buildings in Leeds (this is on the second day).
One of the nice old buildings in Leeds (this is on the second day).
  • Walking to the university on the beautiful morning of the second day, which gave me the opportunity to take some pictures of the lovely city of Leeds!
Leeds' City Hall.
Leeds’ City Hall, topped by owls.
The big white building is one of the university buildings in which the conference was held.
The big white building is one of the university buildings in which the conference was held. The church on the left had actually been converted into a coffee shop/bar; the street side was full of neon lights.
I was expecting a slightly more exciting view when I climbed this hill near the university...oh well.
I was expecting a slightly more exciting view when I climbed this hill near the university…oh well.

I have a lot more work and general life-housekeeping to catch up on, so I’ll sign off. Happy Easter!

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