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Bits and pieces

Posted by Arjendu on December 18, 2007

Today was a day of small pieces of work, appropriate for one disrupted by dentist appointments and day-care holiday concerts. But bits and pieces add up: Crafting my own summary of the Referee report on the paper with Arik to help me think through the issues; submission of application for funding for, and trying to figure out the right visa for, my colleague Anatole to come visit; lunch with a colleague from the Dean of Students’ office (where we talked about Facebook, of course!); and a sudden flurry of email related to being on the Coordinating Board of The Anacapa Society. This last is best summarized by its mission statement: The Anacapa Society promotes research in all areas of theoretical and computational physics at primarily undergraduate institutions. The Society facilitates professional contacts and collaboration, and supports the distinctive role theorists at undergraduate institutions can play in physics, the intellectual community, and the broader world.

I learned early in the day that one of my physics teachers from college had passed away. Dr. Bhargava was more than a teacher, he was a mentor to a couple of generations of those of us who went on to become practicing physicists. To the extent that I think like a physicist — that is, ask questions in the right way and with the right attitude about setting up the problem and understanding context, etc — it is because of Dr. Bhargava, and also Dr. Popli, who passed away himself a while ago. Without that kind of training, the focus is often only on technical talent — you need that, of course, but it’s far from enough. I was a student at Brown University and happened to speak with Prof. Richard Stratt the day we all learned that Richard Feynman had died — Stratt told me he felt like he wanted to hang his papers at half-mast or something to acknowledge this major event. My papers are at metaphorical half-mast today.

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