Saturday, January 4, 2014

Back to Mississippi

First time I went to Oxford Mississippi was 7 years ago, as a visiting master student at The University of Mississippi or, as it is more commonly known, OleMiss. I arrived there around May and, as in most college towns like Oxford, the city emptied right after the term finished, few days after my arrival. This is to say, nothing much was going on in Oxford at that time; nonetheless during my six-month visit there I managed to meet very interesting people, live curious experiences, have fun, and specially work hard in what has later become my field of research. Looking back, I had really a great time.

This is why i'm so excited to come back in Oxford MS tomorrow to attend the Workshop "Testing General Relativity with Astrophysical Observations".

The beautiful logo of the workshop recalls the iconographic Southern magnolia with the trajectory of an extreme mass-ratio inspiral, i.e. the evolution of a stellar-mass compact object orbiting a supermassive black hole like the one at the center of the Milky Way. [credits: Ana Sousa]

This workshop will bring together experts in tests of general relativity, modified theories of gravity and astrophysics. The aim is to foster informal discussions on the current status of experimental constraints on Einstein’s theory and their prospects for the near future, when advanced gravitational-wave observatories will be operational.

The list of participants is impressive and the program promises this will be a fun and fruitful meeting. For me this will also be a special experience, as at Olemiss I met some of my scientific advisors, some closest collaborators and also good friends.

Oxford has been named by USA Today as one of the top six college towns in the U.S. and it is also known as the hometown of  Nobel-prize winning author William Faulkner, as well as residence of novelist and politician John Grisham. However, as a 23-yr old student, I like to remember myself walking around the Olemiss campus while listening to Afroman's hits, which are definitely less literate but undeniably fun. Here is an example, particularly apt for this occasion:

OK, the lyrics is bitter and somehow sexist but, hell, Mississippi is not only Oxford!

I better stop here and continue preparing my slides for this meeting....