Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The key ingredient of a good colloquium?

I still remember the main idea of David Mermin's What is wrong with those talks?
It was published as a Reference Frame in Physics Today in 1992. Mermin says:
Your only goal must be to furnish ordinary physicists with some modest glimpse of what sustains your own interest in your subject.
This past week this idea really shaped the preparation of my quantum science seminar. My main goal was to give the context for my latest paper, rather than talk about the contents of the paper.

I think Mermin's comments are particularly pertinent to colloquiums. But I feel he is a bit too pessimistic about seminars and conference talks for experts.

If you read the article, let me know if you think Mermin is too pessimistic? Or is he realistic? Has Powerpoint made the problem greater or less than 20 years ago?

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