Friday, 22 May 2015

Oslo workshop – Day 5

It's day 5 at the Oslo gamma strength workshop.  I've learnt quite a lot – particularly about how rich the data is from a wide range of experiments, and also how it is difficult to reconcile the interpretation of different experiments using different methods (such as those that excite nuclei with gamma rays vs those that use neutrons).  My talk is coming up later today, and I hope to get some good questions and suggestions for what I might calculate.

As much as I have been enjoying the conference, if I had been a bit quicker to notice, I'd have skipped one of the sessions on Wednesday because there were taking place, in the next building, the Abel lectures from this year's Abel prize.  The Abel prize, named after Norwegian mathematician Niels Henrik Abel, was set up in response to the Nobel prize not featuring a mathematics prize.  It's a prestigious thing, and the award this year went to John Nash Jr and Louis Nirenberg, both of whom were speaking on Wednesday, followed by longer talks about their work and legacy.  Quite an opportunity missed by me to go and see them!

Being at the University of Oslo, too, reminds me about gnus -- a computer program which runs under that operating system (and text editor) known as Emacs.  I used to use gnus as a newsgroup reader, and as an email program.  It is a brilliant program and could do all sorts of neat things, helped by the fact that it was extendable by users who were prepared to do a bit of emacs-lisp programming.  I was, and I even contributed a couple of patches to fix bugs in beta versions of the program.  As a result, my name can be found on every unix (including Apple Mac) computer, in the file containing the list of contributors to the gnus part of emacs.

Yesterday was the conference outing and dinner.  The outing was to Oscarshall, a royal palace set in a peninsula a short walk from the city centre.  The picture above does not do justice to the pretty meadow full of dandelions that we walked past on the way there.  The dinner was very fancy, and very tasty.  The Paleo Brasserie catered for us very well, and in particular gave me an excellent vegetarian meal.  The dessert was white chocolate with dill ice cream.  It's safe to say that I have never had dill ice cream before.

Update: The day after writing this post, John Nash travelled back from Oslo to New Jersey, and died in a car crash on his way home from the airport.