Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A German Graduation

Writing this post from a "world" I have never experienced before. Lufthansa lounge at the top floor of A concourse, Frankfurt airport, with abundant luxuries. Free food and drinks of all varieties, internet, a piece of paradise tucked away from the all the chaos.

In a world which is trying to become more and more uniform every day, unique local traditions and customs feel like breath of fresh air. Yesterday I was fortunate to see one of our group members get her Ph.D, and while that it by itself is a fantastic occasion, what followed next caught me by complete surprise. After the presentation, the mandatory faux-suspense wait while the committee deliberated inside (an aside: turns out in Germany, there are also grades associated with a Ph.D degree, and that probably took most of the time)once she stepped out of the room, she was put in a dolly, designed as a funny take on her time here. Turns out on an April fool,s day years back, she jokingly asked her advisor for a cot in her office, and there it was, the dolly was designed as a bed, replete with a pillow! To reflect her incredible work ethic, a model computer screen was put on, along with a alarm clock showing 2 am. She was working on detection of this particle called the Higgs boson, decaying into some other particles called Tau leptons.
So, of course cutout of Greek tau and H was all over it, and her graduation hat was designed like a Mexican hat, which is a popular representation of how Higgs bosons interact, and there was little white ball depicting the Higgs inside her hat too. She sat in the dolly, a beer in her hand, and was pushed around the campus by enthusiastic members of the group, her advisor included. This was completely new for me, and so much fun!

Here is a picture from the evening:

Anyone seen any other funny graduation customs?

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