Friday, 28 June 2013

O Rila?

View from conference room
Around this time last year, I blogged about my attendance at a workshop in the Rila Mountains in Bulgaria.  I came back again this year.  The view from the conference room window has not changed a lot, as can be seen in the photograph compared to the one from last year.

Probably for the first time ever at a conference I was the first speaker.  My status has reached such a lofty status (and the original first speaker cancelled).  I think my talk went pretty well.  With more preparation time, I  might have generated more movies, which always look nice, and are quite possible since my talk was on a time-dependent method of calculations, but I'd prepared well enough to talk competently and hopefully give a coherent account of the problem, and the solution.  I aim to write a separate post about the work some day.

Coming to theory workshops in Eastern Europe leaves one prey to talks assuming a level of mathematics incommensurate with my own personal reality, though I tried to fit in, mentioning a large number of so-called special functions.  It turned out I was not the only one to mention Whittaker functions, though I think only I said the name "Hankel" and pretty sure only I mentioned the Fadeeva function.  

The rest of the talks were generally pretty interesting, and came in a number of styles.  These days, with overhead projectors no longer provided at conferences, the possibility to give a talk with crowded hand-drawn acetates full of complicated equations is more limited than it used to be.  Fortunately, an enterprising Bulgarian managed to produce a series of "slides" in the form of photographs of dense hand-written notes.  I think the audience was generally quite amused with this.  I did have difficulty with some of the more abstract talks, and I could swear that one of the speakers said "to make it more difficult to understand, we can introduce the intrinsic group".  Probably I mis-heard, but it was already difficult enough for me.

Still, I have come away with a list of things to do, inspired by the talks.  In particular, AK Jain of Roorkee presented a remarkable description of isospin distribution in fission fragments.  It is remarkable because of its simplicity, the apparent agreement with experiment and that no-one had thought of it before.  I look forward to seeing the work published, and have plans to make some complementary calculations.

On the first day of the conference, I had one delegate ask to have her picture taken with me, because of the usual reason.  They should have got me to play Mycroft in the BBC Sherlock Holmes adaptation, really.