Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Sweet home Alabama

Oh man, what a day! Just incredible. The day started with the poster session where almost all of out students had something to present. 4 hours long, it was quite tough but at least I met a few new people in the field.

But I couldn't imagine how perfect the evening would be. We went to Calhoun's, a great restaurant/bar/grill right by the river of Knoxville. The view was awesome, looking at the bridges and the buildings on the other side. The people were fun, with the southern accent almost forcing me to burst into laughs. The music was unique, where a local band performed and sang live classic southern songs. We just sat down outside right next to the river and I had the most unique feeling I could ever have; I didn't want to leave at all (we spent 4 hours there after all). The food was exciting, Calhoun's being voted one of the best grills in Tennessee.

Once upon a time, there was a great physicist called John Dawson, who invented plasma accelerators. His knowledge covered all of physics, being able to get numbers for almost any given problem possible. He had two great students, Warren Mori and Thomas Katsouleas. These 2 students became close friends from the first time they met and now they have a long lasting relationship ranging anywhere from research problems till low level gossip. The students became professors and then created their own groups, and their own students now hang out together and have a great time.

Tom and Warren are a great pair. In every conference we always have one day where both groups join forces for dinner and go out together. 15 people were present today and we got excellent pictures and videos.

To top it all, there is nothing better than eating baby back pork ribs while discussing science issues. I had the most interesting time discussing with Tom & Warren about physics and science and geniuses in general. At some point Warren mentioned a graduate EM class he was taught from Schwinger ( he was one of the inventors of QED, the quantum version of electromagnetics, who won the Nobel prize along with Feynman and Tomonaga). The guy had no books or notes (how can you trust someone else!) and Warren said he was his best class ever. No wife, no kids, he was a living computational machine and the expert on Bessel functions. When asked from a student how the hell did he do this "Integration by staring" (instead of integration by parts) he said "I worked many hours on trying to find a simple way to explain this easily but I couldn't find one, so it's better to do it yourself". Tom was proud because one time Schwinger came to him to consult him - but that's another story!