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Susanne Reffert | IPMU | Japan

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From the Aquarium

Building HIT at ETH Hönggerberg

Building HIT at ETH Hönggerberg

Three weeks spent in hotel rooms are over. After one week in Munich, one in Geneva and one in Paris, we are in Zürich now. This is somewhat of an improvement, since we are staying at my mother’s place, where we have our own room and our stuff (smartly, we had left half of our clothes there when we left for Japan, mostly the ones for cold weather).
It doesn’t mean that traveling is over, though. For Christmas, we are heading South, to visit the Italian part of the family.
But for now, we are spending a few days at the Institute for Theoretical Physics of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH). Which means that we are again treading old paths, since this is the place I got my degree from! Since I have very good memories from my undergrad years, I’m happy to be back. Having lunch at the canteen, then a coffee or tea at the Bistro, it’s like in the old days.
But some things are different from how I used to know them.
091221172100-Edit

Sitting Space and glass office walls

Theoretical Physics has moved into a shiny new building last year. The outside walls are made of glass, and the inside ones, well, too. The ones towards the hallway, that is, not the ones separating the offices. It feels a bit like sitting inside an aquarium. The benefit of the outside walls being windows is the view.
Physics (along with other disciplines like Chemistry and Architecture) is located on a campus at the edge of town, up on a hill (the Hoenggerberg).
Balcony along HIT

Balcony along HIT


From the top floor of building HIT, where the theorists sit, the view is thus quite nice. The wall towards the inner part of the building being of glass, where there are the hallway and sitting and interaction areas, has the effect that everyone always knows who is in and whether they’re working…
On the whole, the new building is very impressive. The sitting areas are very nice, with leather armchairs. There’s also a tea kitchen and whiteboards are strewn around everywhere. A desk, a view, and a place to discuss with a whiteboard, what more does a theorist need?

The last two weeks, I had spent more or less in a state of emergency, preparing two completely different seminar talks. Now that these talks are over, I start to be more in a holiday mood. We’re even getting treated to a few days of snow here, something that rarely ever happens in Tokyo.

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