My head is still spinning a bit, trying to process all the information gathered here (well, it might also be the lack of oxygen in the air, it is rather polluted and the high altitude doesn't help either). It's been my first conference in this community, and I have to say from all the conferences where I've been this year, the Loops has been the nicest experience. The atmosphere has been very welcoming, openminded and constructive.
My talk yesterday on 'Phenomenological Quantum Gravity' (slides here) went well (that is to say, I stayed roughly in the time limit and didn't make any completely embarrasing jokes). Though I wasn't really aware that I would be the only one on this conference speaking about DSR. If I had known, I might have extended my summary of that topic (there was a DSR talk scheduled by Florian Girelli, see picture to the right, but he changed the topic shortly, which I didn't know).
However, after more than a month of traveling, I am sitting here in the inner yard of the hotel and try to remind myself why I go to conferences:
- Because it's just such a nice experience to arrive in a foreign city where nobody understands your language, without any baggage, after a 36 hour trip, with an 8 hour jetlag, having just figured out that the credit card doesn't work, and the hotel doesn't have a reservation for you - and then to find the conference site with familiar faces, the air filled with words like 'propagator', 'manifold' and 'background independence'.
- Because one meets old and new friends, because there's a conference dinner or reception, and plenty of free coffee and cookies.
- Because the registration fee includes a welcome package that usually features a more or less useful bag, a notebook and a pen, and a significant amount of tourist information. Occasionally there are some surprises to that, e.g. this time the bag was a woven shoulder bag, or one of the previous SUSY conferences featured a squeezable brain...
- Because some people present new and so far unpublished results.
- To see and be seen.
- To inspire and get inspired...
- And of course to blog about it ;-)
There has been a significant amount of braiding on this conference (for program and abstracts see here), talks by Yidun Wan, Jonathan Hacket, Lee Smolin and Sundance Bilson-Thompson, the latter shown in the picture below with John Swain
And here is a photo of Carlo Rovelli and Abhay Ashthekar - pen, notebook and coffee included:
Admittedly, I found the phenomenlogical part on this conference somewhat underrepresented. Indeed, I found myself joking I am the phenomenology of the conference! Likewise, Moshe Rozali (who you might also know from comments on this blog) has been the String Theory of the conference. He gave a very interesting talk about the meaning of background independence.
This afternoon, I am chilling out (okay, actually I am writing referee reports that have been due about a month ago). Below a picture of the hotel's inner yard where I am sitting (taken yesterday, right now it is raining). Tomorrow I am flying back to Canada, and I am really looking forward to sleeping in my own bed. A nice weekend to all of you!
[Try clicking on the photos to get a larger resolution.]
Updates: Chanda just sent me a photo she took yesterday evening. I am very pleased about the truly intellectual expression on my face, must be the glasses.
And Garrett took this nice photo.