This month, we have a program on "Perspectives of Fundamental Cosmology" here at Nordita, which I've been organizing together with Martin Bojowald, Kristina Giesel and Mairi Sakellariadou. Since it's a format for scientific meetings that is not so common, I thought it would be worthwhile to tell you a few words about it.
The purpose of running a program is to get researchers together for an extended amount of time, to give them the opportunity not only to get to know each other and share their ideas, but also have the time and space to work on this ideas, discuss them, and to find new collaborators. A workshop or a conference is usually too short and the schedule too packed to really allow participants to have much constructive exchange. And in contrast to a school, the talks and lectures at the program are usually focused on a specific topic and its challenges. The programs are really meant to move a field forward, and to allow people to work on this actively. Though, if you have a student who is beginning his own research agenda, sending him or her to a program on the topic will make for a good start.
The programs at Nordita are very similar to the programs at the KITP in Santa Barbara, and in some cases a longer program goes together with a shorter workshop or conference on the same or a closely related topic.
Does the idea of getting together with likeminded researchers for 4 weeks in Stockholm to dig into a problem sound good to you? You can submit a proposal for your own program here; this year's deadline is November 15. The topic should be in theoretical physics or a closely related area of the natural science. If your proposal is selected, you'll get a grant to invite people and can basically arrange the schedule as you please. And let me not forget to mention that while Santa Barbara has the nicer beaches, Stockholm is arguably a more interesting place than Goleta.
If you want to know more about Nordita, check out our information brochure (pdf, 4.5 MB).