Wednesday, May 18, 2005


That is the population of Knoxville, TN. A rather quiet part of the world you would say. As the star wars maniacs are already gathered outside the movie theaters since Revenge of the Sith is opening at midnight, there was another great day at the conference as it was dedicated to Einstein and a lot of very important people talked.

I woke up at 1pm after a good 10 hour sleep. I am trying to catch up with the whole season of desperate housewives so that I can make it in time for the season finale this Sunday. The first talk was by Michael Turner. I didn't know the name, but the guy is one of the best lecturers I have ever seen. He spoke about cosmology and general relativity and dark matter - a really amazing talk. "If the universe keeps expanding at an accelerating rate then in 100 billion years the galaxies will be moving away from us so fast (faster than the speed of light) that light won't be able to reach us and therefore the sky will be totally black. And this is what I tell in the Congress in order to persuade them to fund astronomy".

Talk #2 was really bad - one of my worst ever. I even left for a few minutes. The guy was huge: Kobayashi, he proposed the 6 quark model and he is the current director of KEK, one of the world's leading accelerator facilities (along with CERN and SLAC). Yet I didn't register 1 single bit of information - apart from the fact that japanese presenters are the worse; a fact that was confirmed by the next presenter.

Talk #3 was a guy named Suzuki, who has worked in many neutrino experiments. Neutrino is a particle that the Standard Model of physics assumes it has no mass, but experiments say otherwise. I did a presentation on that matter 3-4 years ago, and I was happy to see that the guy's slides were almost identical to mine - even the same pictures! Which tells me I did a nice presentation back then. A few minutes before he finishes though, I see dozens of people entering the room steadily. Soon enough the room filled with people, and I was sure that the next presenter should be an important one.

Talk #4: I wasn't wrong. Carlo Rubbio won the Nobel Prize in physics in 1983 for discovering experimentally the W and Z particles (that confirmed the nature of the weak force interaction). He was also director of CERN, the biggest machine in the world for 5 years that accelerates particles over a 30km circular beamline. He was quite goof, although i wasn't impressed. Too political and very serious. I haven't been to a lecture from a Nobel laureate before, and it seems to me it research skills and presentation skills are two independent variables.

At the end of the day I know 2 things. The universe is 13.7 billion years old, and we only know well .5% of all things that happen in there. It's such a great time to be a scientist!