Jim visits the International Institute of Mathematics
Wednesday- 5/21- Today my first class will consist of going to the
international institute of mathematics. The nerdier side in me comes out today, as I am actually very excited for this. After breakfast and a
shoulder workout at the gym, I get ready for my exciting tour. The
institute is actually located on the Peking campus and requires extra
clearance for entry. Luckily, our accompaniment includes the department head of mathematics from Penn State, which grants us an easy entry. Surprisingly, the institute is built in the same oriental structure as the more traditional buildings in Beijing. I was somehow expecting the institute for something like mathematics to be a more modern building, but the structure is a nice thank you to the country that would decide to host something so beautiful. After some photo ops we have a coffee break at the institute which features its own building dedicated specifically for coffee. As a budding mathematician, I know how important coffee (or in my case, tea) breaks are when thinking about mathematics, so it comes as no surprise that there is a whole building here dedicated to its pursuit. It provides a serene moment of mental absence, a sort of short cut to a meditative state. This sort of access is worth its weight in gold to a thinker, and the building represents this with its amenities, which are very nice. After
some tea, cookies and conversation we make our way to where the lectures on research topics are held and have some more photo ops there. Later, I have dinner at the campus canteen with the department head. He asks me how I like the food here, to which I state that I am very fond of it, I just which there was more of it. More specifically, I wish there was more meat in the food, as the lack of protein is starting to affect me. To this end, I had asked Chi earlier in the gym as to where I could find some gym grade protein. He directs me to the Wudouku district, which perplexes me, as that’s the district I found most of the bars in. Later, a web search yields only results on the other end of the city in Yonangli, where I guess I will be traveling tomorrow. We are assigned groups in class that night for a project. I was paired with a former president of the physics club from Penn State, which I found fitting, as I am the current math club president. Our topic is Minkowski space-time in pseudo-euclidean space, and our third partner is a graduate student from Peking. To my dismay, there are not enough undergraduates in the class for us to be assigned one; I suspect the introductions scared many of them off.