Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Dinner with PhDs

Last Thursday, Dr. M. Ram Murty of Queen's University came to BYU and gave a colloquium talk on the Art of Research. I found him and the talk to be interesting (as he is a number theorist), so I asked to go out to dinner with the math department with him afterwards.

First, this was my first experience with Indian food. It was very good. They kept saying that it would be spicy, but they didn't really pull through on that. We asked for medium, and they probably gave us gringo medium. It was good, anyway.

The conversation was very interesting. There were 11 people there: 1 M. Ram Murty, 7 professors from BYU, one wife of a professor, and McKay and I. We were having such a wonderful time listening to the conversations. On one side of the table, they were discussing University policy and how the math department fits in with everything; the other side were discussing especially bright past students and where they are now. In all, very interesting talk.

Dr. Murty had asked McKay I who we were, I explained to him and I'm sure as soon as I said "undergrad" we were put on the bottom of the pile. McKay talked with Dr. Skarda about computers and such. Dr. Skarda is hilarious. Direct quote from Skarda: You know what I call the customers at the Math Lab? Muggles. (The math lab is where people go to get help on their homework, usually college algebra and calculus students and engineers)

Dr. Cardon spoke up.

"I hear you're doing research with Dr. Forcade. Tell us about that."

I had actually been waiting to be invited to talk about my research, but I wasn't expecting the events to happen as they did.

I started talking about the premise of our research, the unsolved problem and the work we've done. I mention that we've found a new form which allows to to related it to such and such and that we've found some good evidence that (more such and such). I expected to say that much.

But I didn't expect the other half of the table to go quiet. For about 5 minutes, I had the attention of 8 PhDs at dinner. I could feel their eyes on me, but I didn't look away from Dr. Cardon, less I forget everything I wanted to say and finish with a "duhh..."

I smiled and the conversations were struck up again. Ram Murty didn't ask me about my stuff like I thought he would, but maybe that's for the better since I probably wouldn't have been able to think clearly enough to answer any questions.

Later, when McKay and I were walking home, I asked him if he noticed that the table was quiet when I was talking. He said, "I was wondering if you noticed!"

Yes. Yes, I did. My pounding heart noticed, too.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please review my blog comment policy here before commenting. You may not use the name "Anonymous." You must use a Google Account, OpenID, or type in a name in the OpenID option. You can make one up if you need to. Even if your comment is productive and adding to the conversation, I will not publish it if it is anonymous.