Physics and Precipitation in Vancouver

By Mark Trodden | October 17, 2005 9:24 am

Yesterday morning I flew to Vancouver, arriving mid-afternoon, in advance of today’s theory seminar at the University of British Columbia. Last night I stayed at Green College, which is on the UBC campus, and is supposed to have breathtaking views of the bay. However, since it has done nothing but pour down with rain since I arrived, I haven’t been able to see anything yet. I have high hopes for today though. I know that the Pacific Northwest is renowned for this type of weather, although, despite my insane travel schedule, this is the first time I’ve seen this part of the country for myself.

Yesterday evening I had dinner with my friend Moshe Rozali, who frequent visitors to Cosmic Variance will know as the only “Moshe” who comments on our posts. We ate at a delightful Indian/North American fusion restaurant, called Vij’s, had a couple of drinks and talked mostly about string theory, which is Moshe’s main area of research. We discussed the landscape and the extent to which one should take it, and its cosmological implications, seriously at this point, or whether the right course is just to keep working and not make extravagant claims (I recently had a similar fascinating discussion with Wati Taylor from MIT, who gave a great string theory colloquium at Syracuse last week).

Both Moshe and Wati are tremendous people with whom to discuss the landscape – experts on string theory, who take eminently sensible stances on the issue (I think it should be clear what my views are from the way I phrased things above). Obviously this is a very hot and controversial topic, which we just touched on over dinner. If you’re interested in what it’s all about, you can get a flavor of it by visiting Clifford’s landscape post and the terrific 168-comment exchange following it.

Because of the time difference, I had a very early night last night and have been awake for a couple of hours already this morning. I’m giving a talk that I’ve given at a number of other institutions over the last year, titled Connecting Cosmology and Fundamental Physics. UBC has an excellent, huge and broad physics department, and so I’ve spent part of the last couple of hours tweaking the talk to emphasize parts that I hope will be of particular interest to some of the people who I know here, either personally or by reputation. People like Bill Unruh, Ian Affleck, Ariel Zhitnitsky and Douglas Scott. The talk is somewhat broader, and consequently less detailed, than my typical seminars though, since this particular UBC seminar series is aimed at all theorists, with instructions that “The level of a seminar is intended to be somewhere between a technical talk and a general colloquium”.

Hopefully I’ll post again and describe the rest of my short visit here (I fly back very early tomorrow morning). For now, I’d better drag myself out of bed.

  • Moshe

    Good Morning Mark, good to have you here, but it seems like you will have to come back in the summer to see what Vancouver is well-known for, maybe we could rock climbing or scuba diving then, or maybe we’ll stick to the urban.

    (In dinner I thought we did not dwell too much on this landscape business, but it was probably the only news that fit to print…)

    Looking forward to your talk later today.

  • Mark

    As you say Moshe – the only news fit to print. See you in a while.

  • Plato

    Vancouver is a beautiful place….and being biased, I hope views on the time year, “of rain” seems to be the way of it.

    Go to the West end, and you’ll find many good resturaunts, or stop by an umbrella place with rain and on a sunny day, and watch the populace go by.

    Nothing like “real time” to bring perspective on issues that are taking place.

  • Moshe


    I thought you may be interested: the sun is shining, the birds are singing, no cloud in the sky, exactly as it was before you landed here.

  • Clifford

    On the other hand, the sky here today in LA looks rather like an average Manchester sky: very grey, very low, and dripping stuff on you relentlessly.


  • Plato

    I hope you saw how important Canadians/BCer’s are taking their education…..I wonder how this affected your conference?

  • Bob

    Hi Mark,

    I enjoyed your talk. I’m a computer scientist, but I have a decent physics background (astrophysics Ph.D. minor), and try to keep up with cosmology in particular.

    As others have mentioned, October is not the time to see Vancouver at its best! (But, yes, amazingly, today was beautiful.)

    Yesterday evening, my wife (geophysics prof here) called me over to point out this new cosmology blog… with an item by someone who’d just given a talk at UBC. Small world!

  • the one Intelligently designed

    Hi Bob,
    If I understood you correctly , you are talking about your minor in astrophysics during phd. What do you mean by that?

  • Bob

    I mean, at MIT you’re required to have a minor program as part of your Ph.D. (at least, in computer science). So I chose astrophysics. Really, all that’s required is a couple of extra, related courses outside your main area. But I do seem to have managed to squeeze in more physics courses than anyone but a physicist.

  • Mark

    Thanks Bob – nice of you to say so. I’ll post again soon about my only full day at UBC. Hope you enjoy the rest of the blog.



Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

Cosmic Variance

Random samplings from a universe of ideas.

About Mark Trodden

Mark Trodden holds the Fay R. and Eugene L. Langberg Endowed Chair in Physics and is co-director of the Center for Particle Cosmology at the University of Pennsylvania. He is a theoretical physicist working on particle physics and gravity— in particular on the roles they play in the evolution and structure of the universe. When asked for a short phrase to describe his research area, he says he is a particle cosmologist.


See More

Collapse bottom bar