Our semester started yesterday, and so, as you might imagine, the last week or so has been taken up with prepping for my class and trying to finish up some papers that will inevitably get less time in the coming weeks. I’m particularly looking forward to class this semester, since I’m teaching the introductory graduate General Relativity class. For my money, G.R. is the one of the most beautiful subjects to teach or study (I’m also quite fond of graduate mathematical methods) and I’m anticipating a lot of fun as well as quite a lot of work, since the class is pretty large this year (about 12 people for now, with three or four of them auditing).
I don’t usually follow a text in my classes, preferring to give the students a range of reference material and then to try to present a relatively self-contained course on the subject matter. This class will be no exception, although since some guy recently wrote a new book that closely follows the way I’m used to thinking about G.R., I will follow that far more than I usually follow any single text.
Another thing that has been taking up some time in the frantic last week or so is the upcoming third season of Café Scientifique Syracuse. When we started this two years ago there were four organizers. Two of these have recently left the area, and so my remaining co-founder, geologist Scott Samson, and I have been busily recruiting some new organizational blood from Syracuse’s science departments. We’ve also changed the venue – moving to a place I particularly like – a cocktail and wine bar called Ohm Lounge.
The first meeting of the Fall takes place in a week, on Tuesday September 4th, and my colleague Mark Bowick – string theorist turned soft condensed matter theorist is presenting, with a talk titled “Soft and Squishy Matter at Science’s Cutting Edge”. Mark gives great talks like this, with no slides (as Café Scientifique was originally envisioned) but plenty of hands-on demonstrations of the physics he’s describing.
Well, back to work. I don’t teach tomorrow, so should have some time for research, although there’s another first in the afternoon – the first faculty meeting of the semester!