Friday, July 8, 2011

Stockholm IV.

295. Catching up at conferences, academics and stereotypes.
"I have been having troubles getting grants, because my current area overlaps with an area in physics, and every time I try to write something, the reports go back, 'A and B have already done this and that in Physical Review Letters...' But A and B haven't! What have they done? They've come up with a model, and shown that it fits well with the data. That's it! They don't prove anything! At the last conference, I asked a physicist who came up with a model for financial mathematics, 'have you compared your model with the existing mathematical models? Financial mathematics is a well-established field...' He looked at me and said, 'no, why should I? My model works well with the data. Why should I care about other models?' 
At the time, I thought it was a nonsensical answer, but then I realized that I had a nonsensical question. He's a physicist! My grandfather is a physicist, my father is a physicist, my ex-parents-in-laws are physicists, so I know a little about physicists. To quote the TV series The big bang theory, 'I am a theoretical physicist so I know everything about the world'..."

296. Late afternoon. We are saying goodbye to P., who is staying for another day in Stockholm while we head back to Brussels this evening. "It was nice to meet you," he kisses Anna on the cheek. Watching, I tell Claire in a stage whisper that our Melbourne boss has been Europeanized. "No, I haven't," he says, then gives me a hug, "see you soon, I hope." The next time we see each other, most likely it will be in a continent where hugs replace kisses in greetings, which is not necessarily better or worse. Just different.

297. At the airport luggage carousel. While my one-wheel-missing, zip-broken, ragged purple duffel bag has arrived, both Anna's and Geluck's fancy luggage are still nowhere to be seen. It has been almost an hour. "Probably the airport employees found my working papers...," Geluck has a theory for the delayed appearance of his suitcase. "And then they got so excited and forgot to load the rest of the luggage..." I continue. "Maybe they have already published the results!" Anna exclaims.

Mathematicians are very logical and realistic people.


  1. Dude I guess you mean Physical Review LetterS, not the (132) permutation of the expression :p

  2. Yes, I guess you are right. After all, you are a theoretical physicist ;)

  3. C'est pas faux :)
    I've even received my PhD diploma just yesterday you know. I mean the physical piece of paper. Now I've just to find a fancy frame to hang it on the wall.

  4. Congratulations! Does this mean you've actually finished writing the thesis?

  5. Merci :) Check your emails on the 9th of june, if you still have them.