Thursday, March 19, 2009
Physics and more in Moriond
Physics conferences tend to follow a certain pattern, lots of talks throughout the day, some social interactions in the evening and may be a weekend excursion to a tourist attraction nearby. But what happens if the whole conference is an excursion by itself? That is what Moriond conferences are - tucked away in this a French/Italian Alps ski resort named La Thuile, the afternoons are left free for skiing and enjoying the breathtaking scenic beauty, and we are spoiled with awesome and exotic lunch and dinner.
And by the way did I mention that this is a gathering of some of the best workers in the field, and as they jokingly say, you can even talk physics while skiing!
Skiing I did try, that too for two days. But to put it in a very respectable way, I am not in the best physical shape, the only part of the body I exercise regularly are my fingers, and that shows. On first day, I learned it is deceptively difficult, certainly not as smooth as seen on TV. It is hard to move with skis on when not on a slope, and its even harder to stop when you are on one. There are techniques though, but then again, we did not learn walking or cycling in a day either. Next day was super exciting, if I may say so. Accidentally I took the wrong ski-lift, so rather than landing on the top of a gentle practice slope, I ended up on the top of the mountain, with only steep "expert" slopes to go down. The ski lifts are apparently used for one way traffic, they do not allow you to get down - so I had to be rescued and brought down to the nearest cable car station by a snowmobile - those things do move fast going downhill! Quite an experience indeed. This place is a skiers paradise.
However, the view going up the mountain on that open ski-lift, which is effectively a hanging bench, and where you can not get on without your skis on, was out of the world, and possibly worth all the trouble. Too bad I could not take any pictures.
Other highlight of my stay so far was having horse-steak for dinner. It was different, a bit dry, reasonably delicious and I never knew people ate horse before. This was also my first talk in front of a hundred plus audience consisting mostly of experts, and I think it went rather well, from the the questions and the general reaction.