Sunday, August 2, 2009


The Aspen Center for Physics is summer camp for nerds. Supposedly the rarified atmosphere and the natural beauty of the environment inspires the thinking of very deep thoughts. Whether or not this is true, the Center is still a great place to do science. Just on the border of the town of Aspen Colorado, and within earshot of the Aspen music festival tent and the Aspen Institute, the Center is about as pleasant as any one could imagine for just hanging out and thinking. Theoretical physicists (along with a few mathematicians and a few experimentalists) come from all over the world every summer to spend a few weeks here, to talk to other experts, and just to decompress and clear their minds. At any given time during the summer, something like 50 scientists are here.

The scientists are housed in ski-lodges that are vacant for the summer (sometimes these can be pretty ritzy) and are given shared offices at the center. We are given bikes for transport (unless you prefer walking, like I do – since it is harder to stop to pet the dogs when on a bike). Coffee is always plentiful, cookies are at 4pm, and barbeques are every Tuesday. Hiking, Climbing, and Mountain Biking are always nearby and are very popular among us nerds.

Like the KITP in Santa Barbara, the success of this place is, to a large extent, due to the fact that everyone wants to come here, so the Aspen committee is always able to choose visitors who are smart and interesting and fun to talk to.

A short video about the Aspen Center for Physics is spliced at the beginning of my public lecture from my previous post.

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