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Posted in February 2011

Fourth Lecture Advanced Statistical Mechanics

has taken place today. Moderate number of students, contact with audience persists although not very intensive. Finally, I’m through the basics! Yet not satisfied because lectured too slowly, had to skip the slides, still cannot find good tempo. Must do something to boost the performance…

Visit Dahlem

was another Blitzvisit to Germany, monday-tuesday this week. Dahlem is actually a borough of Greater Berlin, yet why should I care about the gigantic city if the borough is a home to a Free University and, importantly, to Dahlem Center for Complex Quantum Systems. I visited groups of Piet Brouwer and Felix von Oppen, talk to them and their students and postdocs, my former student and present collaborator Jeroen Danon.

The groups are splendid, the collaborative atmosphere and interactions are unbelivably good, if I had energy for a sabbatical I know were would I spend it. There’s quite some Mayorana and topological activity in the groups, I was surprized how fast has this fashion spreaded over the world. It was pleasantly frosty. I could not sleep half of a night thinking about an equation, like I did in my young ages. This means the visit really gave me a boost.

Less pleasant thing about the visit is that it has contributed to piling up urgent things I have to do (and hardly doing) beside the semester. Today I have attempted a break-through and tried to finish three activities from the middle of the pile: alias, none is finished.

Third Lecture Advanced Statistical Mechanics

was not that terrible: of course I speak for myself, but it seems I am coming in terms with the course and the audience. The latter even responded my questions and reacted on stimuls: rewarding it is.

I am a lecture behind the original schedule but fell comfortable about this. Since I have not posted the schedule for the second half of the semester yet, I can trim it incorporating thechanges. Next year I shall change the schedule that appeared rather unrealistic.

Third Lecture Quantum Transport

used to be a difficult one for me since there is a plenty of various material some of which is very challenging to explain. I honestly warned students about this fact, and, strangely, this seemed to help. I did it much better than usual, and felt attention to the topic.

However, I could not present everything, there are several slides left. Well, perhaps this is for the better. The next lecture is devoted to more practical examples of the material of lecture #3, and the remaining slides will serve as a refreshing.

Actually, I’m writting this post in a week after the lecture: the schedule is overfilled again, and I made some travel. Have to catch up.

Ioan Mihai Pop

has perfomed his Ph. D. defence on Feb. 15. He made his Ph.D. research in Grenoble, with Wiebke Guichar and Bernard Pannetier, in experimental physics of Josephson arrays. There were several important achievements in the course of his term, two are related to phase-slips in the array, that is, “my” stuff. David Haviland, Alexey Ustinov and me were foreign referees present at the defence, which was excellent(I mean, the defence).

It was fun to drop to Grenoble for a day and meet old friends. I also hope to be there in September on other occasion.

Comprehensive Semiconductor Science and Technology

Do you believe in megabooks? Neither do I, but they exist and get published, bold attempts to encyclopediate a big chunk of knowledge in time of Wikipedia… When I was a kid, I loved to read encyclopediae but just because I came to read things that I was not indeded to read neither ever heard about. Great fascination: yet for this one has to buy a 4 thousand pages 6 volume set recently published by Elsevier. Everything you never heard of semiconductor science and technology. Here’s the link.

This sounds as an advertisment, and it is. Several years ago I wrote a contibution for this book. It took time and energy I could use elsewhere. I recognize that to find this contribution among others is not easy, and me and editors will be very likely only persons knowing about it. Nevertheless I feel kind of proud: perhaps because of that childish fascination with megabooks.

Second Lecture Advanced Statistical Mechanics

though I still have a flu, I did not feel too bad in the morning. The first lecture at 8:45 is always a challenge for me but I think I could woke and came fresh and energetic. Well. Let me put it frankly: I expected more students. I started with four, and it came to eight or perhaps nine in 15 minutes. Still it’s rather dissapointing, though I understand the feeling is not rational: the statistics of student numbers has very little to do with statistical mechanics, and I ought to adhere the latter.

The advantage of smaller audience is the motivation for less formal lecture style. I spared some time to derivation of entropy of the ideal gas in the framework of thermodynamics. Sankore 3.1 was not and ideal medium but I managed to draw a bunch of symbols: though most of them came a way to sharp and over-lined resembling pseudo-Gothic fonts of Nazi newspapers. I did not hasten and did not want to catch up with the material: there is still a delay of approxiamtely a half of the lecture.

Guess the second half where we have discussed the math of probability theory was pretty boring (not for me, though, since I know how usefull will it be soon). Well, I will do everything to make the rest less boring 🙂

Second Lecture Quantum Transport

has taken place today. I was having a light flu. Surprisingly, it was rather helpful. I was giving the lecture slowly, frequently repeating myself, and was not afraid to (re)state obvious. The material, at least in the first half of the lecture, did give an opportunity for this: it fact, it was a repetition of scattering matrix stuff in a bit general framework of multi-terminal scattering. I think the audience liked the tempo, there was a feedback, questions, even a minor mistake corrected during the break.

After the break it got tougher. The material was more challenging. Yet it was sufficiently fascinating/familiar to keep the attention of the audience. I had to be concise in two places to keep up the time. Yet to summarize it was not a bad lecture, pretty much in equlibrium

A bit worried about next lecture that really has lots of new concepts and requires attention of audience and my diligence as well. Hope I’ll recuperate by this time.

First lecture fairy tales of theoretical physics

has started with a thrill: I’ve entered the classroom and seen it full, three times more people than expected. It took me a while to recognize that most audience were our Ph.D. students rather than master students expected. Anyway, full classroom works inspring.

I got a bit excited and has spent too much time on the general introduction: almost the same mistake I did earlier on the same day when giving Advanced Statistical Mechanics. I’d love to have twenty more minutes for the second part of the tale where really fairy things have been happening. Could not afford to postpone the ending, so last slides, the most difficult ones, were shown as quickly as cards shown by a magician performing a distract-attention trick in a less adult audience. My next tale will be in March and it will also concern inverse scattering problem. Perhaps I should repeat the stuff by the time.

Yet I’ve heard that the students were not completely dissatisfied. However, they made it clear that they appreciate the problem-solving sessions that were not planned. Well, it could be that an enthousiastic phd student would be as kind as to help us with one. And we shall definitely think about this for the next year.

First lecture advanced statistical mechanics

has started with a little surprise. At the moment, there is a relatively big number of students, like slightly below 50, that have registered at the Blackboard. This is a way bigger than a number estimated from previous years. Yet usually Blackboard provides rather accurate estimation of number of students present at the first lecture. Today it was not the case: guess I’ve started with 10 people, that’s grown to 15 in 15-20 minutes. I cannot say at the moment if the surprise is pleasant or unpleasant. It only looks like Blackboard communication would be difficult for this course.

The major problem I’ve encountered was time. I was a way too slow giving the introduction that consisted from general information, general motivation of the level and direction of the course, short outline of the lecture scheme and couple of stories about Statistical Mechanics. While I’ve been trying to impress, and spent quite a time preparing this part, I do not think it was especially sucsessful. At least the response of the audience didn’t show this. Next time I should restrict myself to a short technical introduction.

So the introduction took about a half of the time. Given this, I thought I’d better skip the rest: it looked hopeless. Nevertheless it went a bit better than expected. There was some interaction with the audience: we recalled the first and the second laws. I got through the half of the transparencies of the first lecture. With respect to the material, it’s more than 2/3 of its content.

This makes a schedule problem. I still want to compact all introduction to the course, that is, thermodynamics and basics of ASM, within three lectures. We’ll see if it’s possible

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