And now for something completely different:
A free lecture and string quartet performance by Dr. Clifford Will, professor of physics at Washington University, and the Borealis String Quartet. The topic was, "Was Einstein Right?".
It started out looking like it was going to be a disappointment, because, despite being a free lecture, you were supposed to pre-register. Except that only some of the advertising said anything about pre-registering, and the pre-registrations sold out, and the advertising we'd seen wasn't the advertising that said anything about pre-registering, so we almost didn't get in. Fortunately they opened up the balcony of the auditorium to make room for all us extra people.
The string quartet performance that started it out was lovely. Mozart to begin with, and then a brand new work commissioned speficically for the occasion by the Canadian Association of Physicists. The piece was called "From Water to Ice", and was written by Aaron Hryciw, a PhD student in condensed matter physics at the U of A, who also plays violin and bassoon in the University Symphony Orchestra, and studies composition with Malcolm Forsyth.
"From Water to Ice" gave me The Shivers. It's a horrible pun and I'm really sorry, but it's true.
And then the lecture was a lot of fun as well. The format was essentially, general and special relativity predict, to an insane number of decimal places, X. Due to all sorts of really cool technology, we've measured, to an insane number of decimal places, and gotten... X. Over and over again. There wasn't much that I hadn't already read in popular science stuff, but the combination of hard data, pretty pictures of gravitational lensing, and Dr. Will's enthusiasm and sense of humour, took me back to the best of my intro physics days and gave me a good case of the darn it why didn't I's.
The coolest thing Dr. Will talked about was LISA - the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna - image from NASA. LISA is three satellites that will be put into orbit around the sun, in a free-floating equilateral triangle 5 million km to a side, and, if they can get the thing to work, they'll be able to detect the distortions caused by gravity waves as they pass through. How hot is that?!
And then, if that weren't already a perfect evening, we went upstairs to RATT and caught the hockey game about halfway through the third period, during which time the Oilers came back from losing 3-1 to winning 6-5 in overtime. My poor throat - as if I hadn't done enough screaming at NIN yesterday.
I hope tonight's game will be a turning point for the Oilers season. I often feel that what happens to them is, they start to lose, and then they seem to get upset with themselves and play poorly, and keep on losing, often for several games. Playing so hard tonight and coming from behind like that proves to me that they have it in them to do it. I just hope they've proved it to themselves as well.