Here's a brief travelogue of my trip to MIT for a workshop on Fluctuations and Correlations in Relativistic Nuclear Collisions.
OK, so it's not the Red Sea (yes, passover started last night!) but the Long Island Sound is just big enough that taking the ferry really cuts down quite a bit of driving when travelling from Brookhaven to Massachusetts. Although it's quite a trip, taking about an hour shore-to-shore, it's really spectacular to be aboard during a sunny day, or even as the sun is beginning to set. And once they get internet on these things, I have yet another reason not to go to work.
Anyway, it was a very nice meeting and very nice to be back at my PhD alma mater. There were quite a lot of talks, and it was a workshop so the speakers did not skimp on technical issues, but we did get some entertainment, including a Bruno Rossi Commemorative talk by James Cronin (Nobel Prize winner for discovery of CP violation at Brookhaven in 1964) on the Pierre Auger cosmic ray observatory in Argentina. Given the subject of the workshop, the use of variables that study correlations of particles produced together, I was amused by Cronin's discussion of an early Rossi measurement where he studied properties of air showers using 3 phototubes, 2 in coincidence to identify a shower track, and a third to study the size. It's a long way from there to Auger, a truly mammoth project.
Another unexpected bit of entertainment was poking around the new Frank Gehry building sitting atop the site of the venerable Radiation Laboratory, which I always thought was a landmark, despite its obvious tendency towards crumbling. But who is to argue with a major upgrade to MIT, and a fun new building -- one that looks remarkably similar to how it did during construction, and will probably look similar when they eventually tear it down. OK, just kidding -- I'm a huge Gehry fan, but I've always suspected that his contractors might not be. The engineering of this structure was truly unbelievable, but appeared unimaginably exacting in both choice of materials (note the mirrored stainless steel cladding to the right) and geometry (note the skewed tower near the top).
Although I try to avoid acting like a wedding photographer during meetings, I find myself feeling a strange sense of duty towards documenting these sorts of things, since otherwise all we have left is a lot of powerpoint slides and a book of proceedings. These two things capture precisely people's thoughts before the conference (the slides), and after the conference (the writeups), but rarely the mood or atmosphere of the meeting as it happens. Moreover, I've always found it easier to beg forgiveness than to get permission, so pre-emptive apologies if anyone shown here would rather not be! Anyway, thanks again to the organizers for inviting me, and apologies for being too busy to get a talk together (and it's not because I was blogging).