Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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Field Theory

376 words

On Tuesday, somewhat spontaneously, my colleague Jan-Philipp and me departed for Leipzig to attend a short workshop a the Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in the Sciences. The topic, Geometry, Topology and Field Theory will also appear in a seminar we’re planning for the next term so this was a good opportunity to get a head start.

Despite the short notice, we received a very warm and well-organised welcome. We were expected, key cards were ready, a room had been booked before our arrival. We even got an office and computer access for the two day stay. That’s certainly more than any of the visitors to our department will receive. And it seemed effortless on their part. Achieving this probable takes both good funding and good organisational skills.

The talks were interesting as well. There were a few parts which went too far into physics for my knowledge but even those seem to be less scary these days. There’s still hope. It was also refreshing to meet people who are working ‘between’ maths and physics. The professors who organised the event seem to have been around for a while and where never shy to drop the odd anecdote attached to certain topics. They also seem to have met most of the ‘famous’ people who invented the things we study.

The building which houses the institute used to be where Reclam Verlag used to print their books (Leipzig has many publishers, and Reclam is quite notorious as they print little yellow softcovers of classics which you often read at school – but things are a bit more complicated than that as Leipzig was in the GDR after the war…). These days, it also houses some film company and they shoot parts of a crappy police series for telly there on a regular basis. In fact we ran into the film crew (who unfriendlily told us to leave quickly) on Wednesday. According to the TV series the whole building is a police station.

There wasn’t any time to do daylight sightseeing which was unfortunate as I’ve never been to Leipzig before. We still managed walk around the streets with some really nice old houses and see the Thomanerkirche (where Bach worked). I thought it was quite small.

August 26, 2004, 19:32

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