Confused at a higher level

The view from Carleton College's physics department

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Posted by Arjendu on July 15, 2013

Those who are not otherwise connected to me through Facebook or by being on campus will not have registered this, but the big event in my life in the last few weeks has been that I’ve stepped down from the Dean’s office (it was a three-year rotation, and the three years were up). And it being long enough since I last went on sabbatical, I have the entire year in which to get some physics done before returning to teach in the Physics Department. And perhaps also to start writing again on this blog.

This first post is me getting used to blogging again, so apologies in advance for the stiffness and or irrelevance of the content.

I am spending the first month or so of that sabbatical at the MPIPKS (Max Plank Institut fur Physik Komplexer Systeme; a name I am sure you can decipher even without clicking on that link to get to the English-language index page) in Dresden, Germany, courtesy of their Visitor’s Program, and even more specifically courtesy of my gracious host Jan-Michael Rost. I visited here during my last sabbatical as well, when I met and had good conversations with Andre Carvalho (who was then a post-doc here and is now across the world in Canberra, and where I had the privilege of visiting him about 2.5 years ago). I also started a collaboration with JM’s post-doc Anatole Kenfack  (who seems to have since landed in Berlin) which resulted in two papers, one each on classical and quantum ratchets.

This time the visit is more of a writing residency (I am not really venturing out there to talk to people) to finish up the project on Lyapunov exponents and the quantum-classical transition which I spoke about at SQuInT 2013. I’ve been nursing this project along for a couple of years, and every time I think I have it understood and ready to write and submit, I find a new wrinkle. In the Dean’s office, a roadblock could slow me down by months before I could address it. I’m hoping that sabbatical time will allow me to wrap it up quickly.

I am also using this visit as a reading residency — catching up on articles stored in my ‘to read’ folder, planning the arc of my research for the next few months/years and in general resetting my brain to think like a physicist again.


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