Inflation @ Stanford II: Eternal Physics Summer Camp

29 - 05 - 2012


By Sander Mooij

It has been almost two months now that I’m visiting Stanford University, time for a new update. I like the life in the theory group a lot. Many discussions, many talks, a continuous flow. At the moment there’s some reconstruction going on, and one of the goals seems to be to fit in as many blackboards as possible.

These talks, by the way, always begin with some context background information, but that is a tricky thing here. Usually some of the people who initiated the whole field are actually in the audience. This can lead to interesting historical debates on who has exactly done what first…

Campus life continues to intrigue me. If you live here (I don’t) there seems to be no reason to leave the campus. Cheap sandwiches, Thai, Mexican or whatever food you look for is available. Soccer pitches, tennis courts, athletic tracks, swimming pools, it is all there. The campus stadium has a capacity of 50,000. It was used in the 1994 soccer World Cup and has hosted a Super Bowl.

My roommate Joris (former Nikhef master student, in the R&D group) has joined the Stanford campus band. Having all notes right is not most important, knowing when to throw your saxophone up in the air (and catch it again) is. Last week they played standing around one of the fountains on campus, with their cheerleaders inside.

Furthermore there is an enormous book store, a museum for modern arts, places for concerts and for plays, and there’s probably a lot more that I haven’t discovered yet. It really is like an eternal summer university camp. Last Saturday I passed the church on campus and there was a wedding going on.

In the meantime I have visited UC Santa Cruz for one day to give a seminar. Studying physics at the Santa Cruz campus is really like studying nature in nature. The campus is on a hill overlooking the ocean, covered in a forest. “Covered” has to be taken literally here: the buildings are not allowed to exceed the trees. Halfway up the hill there is an organic farm. After the talk I made it just in time to the “Strawberry Justice Festival” held there, with bands playing and experimental berry drinks.

There was also a short and surprising Nikhef-visit this last week. Mark Beker and Eric Hennes were just returning from a workshop in Hawaii and visited the campus for one day to give a talk. So that was nice to walk over the campus with our small Nikhef team!