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greetings from TASI 2008

I'm at University of Colorado, Boulder for the whole month of June, attending the Theoretical Advanced Study Institute, a summer program for high energy theory grad students that has been going on for about 25 years now. The theme this year is "The Dawn of the LHC Era" (seems to be a popular theme in particle physics these days!) I used to just watch the lectures online, and envy the people who got to see it live... but now I actually get to ask questions and meet the other grad students and profs. We are currently 1 week and 2 days into the whole 4-week program. The table of videos on the TASI2008 webpage is slowly filling in as they put the new videos of the lectures up each night:


So far, I think I've enjoyed Kaladi Babu's flavor talks the most. And surprisingly, I've particularly enjoyed Peter Wittich's lectures... I think he may be the only experimentalist that I've listened to all the way through without falling asleep or tuning out by the end (not just here but ever). His goal is to educate theorists about what experimentalists do and what things theorists need to know about what experimentalists do in order to do their job right and avoid miscommunication despite a large cultural gap--and it's clear he's thought a lot about how to do this, and how to talk to theorists. Will Kinney may have actually been the best speaker so far, but I already heard his excellent Inflation lectures at Perimeter last year.

There is way more to QCD/hadronic physics than I ever realized... a lot of it seems interesting, but I know so little about things like the Factorization Scale and Soft Colinear Effective Theory that a lot of it is going over my head. Nevertheless, I'm happy to be picking up things here and there. I now have some idea of how jets are reconstructed (although the details are still fuzzy), which is something that I'd wanted to know about for a long time.

Yuri Shirman's SUSY lectures are nowhere close to Nima Arkani-Hamed's. But then again, I would have shit my pants if anyone had topped Nima's SUSY lectures at Perimeter last year (clearly the best of the whole summer program--although somehow I imagine that would have been true regardless of what topic he chose to lecture on). This is mainly an issue of having someone great come before you, I think, rather than actually being bad.

Oh, and on a totally unrelated note... I've been participating in a "Burning Circle" this year (which smirkingjustice started), where each month one person burns 12 copies of a CD mix (or in this case just puts together a playlist of mp3's, along with an image file for the cover) and then sends them out to the other 12 people in the circle. The month I chose before the year started was June, before I knew I'd be away all month. At first I was like "oh crap, I'll have to reschedule" but then I just ended up putting it together early and releasing it early in the morning before my flight. I was thinking of maybe linking to the one I made, but I should probably make it friends-only if I do. Anyway, I think it was a great idea and it has been kind of neat to get exposed to different people's tastes in music.

Alright, what the hell... I've found out some pretty unbelievable news recently, that I'm still totally in shock and denial about. I was going to save this for a separate friends-only post, but I just can't keep it a secret any longer. Despite not seeing this coming at all, and getting incredibly stressed out recently about TA'ing, and feeling like there was no way I was going to get through the whole next year while TA'ing, I've just been informed now that: I'll never have to TA again--I'm all done. TA'ing has been by far the hardest part of grad school for me, and this last quarter was my hardest quarter TA'ing--where I really reached the end of my rope in terms of being overloaded, depressed, and feeling totally helpless. If I'd had to do any more, it would have been physically and mentally impossible, and I would have had to just quit and drop out, or borrow lots of money to pay the rest of my way. Now everything has changed, and yet my mind still needs more time to process before I accept it. It's as if I've just passed through the Great Filter and without an ounce of will left to spare. More on this when I get a chance... save any detailed personal questions about this for the locked post that I intend to make about it as soon as I get a chance.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 11th, 2008 10:53 am (UTC)
Congratulations on having fun at TASI and on not having to TA. Sounds like things are going well. :-)
Jun. 11th, 2008 02:48 pm (UTC)
Yay! I got that message and was very, very happy for you. Paul and I did a little happy dance. Well, no, but we would have if we hadn't been . . . indisposed. Or in the car? Not sure any more. Anyhow, happy!
Jun. 16th, 2008 02:04 am (UTC)
thank you for the hypothetical happy-dance :)
Jun. 11th, 2008 10:35 pm (UTC)
TAing is often incredibly stressful - great that you won't have to do it again!
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


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