One of the joys of being a grad student is that I get paid to travel to conferences! I already talked about my trip to Halifax, but this more recent conference didn't take me quite as far afield. The last week of June, I went to NRDA (Numerical Relativity and Data Analysis) at the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, only an hour's drive from Toronto.
This conference is meant to bring together the gravitational wave community, so those people who study the gravitational effects of black holes (and other compact objects) crashing into each other. This includes numerical relativity, gravitational wave detector data analysis, theoretical models of gravitational waves, etc. It was associated with CAPRA, which was more on the theoretical side, and which I skipped most of. It was great going to all these talks in my field and learning about what other people are doing. I found it much more interesting than CASCA where the majority of talks weren't in my field. I also got to meet most of the authors of the various papers I've been reading for my research. It's really cool to put faces to all those names.
I presented a poster with my research so far:
Another couple of people are actually working on the same thing (error estimation for hybrid waveforms), so I've got to get my butt in gear and actually publish. Too bad I have the second part of my qual in less than 2 weeks!
Other highlights included a nearby lake (more like a pond) and petting zoo with baby ducks!
Really fancy lunches
Really fancy desserts at out-of-the-way vegetarian restaurants
Interesting architecture at the Perimeter Institute
And knitting an entire baby sweater in four days (more on this later)
The world-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking is also visiting the PI right now, and I did in fact get a chance to see him. However, I was way too shy to talk to him or take a picture... oh well.