Sunday, November 18, 2007

Rooms of Requirement

As the movie advert says, "The Rebellion Begins." In HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX, only the young students recognise the threat of the Dark Lord and his promotion of "dark energy." Their secret Order of the Phoenix meets secretly in the Room of Requirement. The Room is a magical place that appears only when it is needed.

Kea has proposed a conference for New Physics in 2008. In his interview on Backreaction, Garrett Lisi wishes for a Science Hostel:

"I envision a large house where theorists could live and work on their stuff alone or in groups while having their meals and living space provided. The idea is to give researchers time, with an easily accessible but undemanding social atmosphere, and as little responsibility as possible. And, of course, it would have to be somewhere beautiful -- with good hiking and other things to do outside. For the past year I've been living near Lake Tahoe -- a great environment for thinking and playing. Anywhere in the mountains would probably be good for a Science Hostel -- even better if it's next to a good ski hill. :)"

Here we'll explore some possible locations. Not every magical place is examined--Magnetic Island didn't quite make the list. In deference to Kea and Garrett, the focus is on places near mountains and snow. We will start with Kea's suggestion of Christchurch. The South Island's largest city contains many gardens, is fronted by a lovely harbour in sight of mountains. As in California, we can surf Sumner Beach in the morning and ski in the afternoon.

HIKING AND SNOW: Plenty of both less than 2 hours away. Kea has enjoyed many adventures in the mountains.

DISADVANTAGES: The city itself is not isolated, but Kea knows many spots nearby that offer solitude and hiking.

Garrett is partial to Lake Tahoe on the Califonia-Nevada border. I have enjoyed this place many times since childhood and even flown low over the lake in a turboprop. The area offers every activity from boating to gambling. Summer brings a Shakespeare festival and many other events. UC Davis often uses the Granlibakken conference center for meetings.

HIKING AND SNOW: More than one could want, but one must share with many. Huge ski areas are nearby like Mammoth Mountain and Squaw Valley.

DISADVANTAGES: The price of real estate is absurd. The lake was discovered by weekenders long ago, and can get quite crowded. Perhaps Garrett can suggest a nearby location.

Someone has suggested the Colorado Rockies. Telluride is a former mining town in a box canyon more than 2000 metres above sea level. The setting near North America's Continental Divide is spectacular. Main Street has quaint wooden sidewalks and boxes with plastic bags for dogwalking. It is home to a Film Festival, Jazz Festival and many restaurants.

HIKING AND SNOW: Also more than one could want. A favourite hike is the switchback trail to the mill atop the canyon. Here one can look down on the town or continue into the Rockies. Many ski lifts and cableways from the nearby Mountain Village.

DISADVANTAGES: This place has been discovered by many wealthy tourists. The cost of living is near the level of Lake Tahoe. During ski season and festivals the town gets packed.

TOMORROW: We'll see a place in the middle of the Pacific but almost unknown.


Blogger Kea said...

Heh, heh! Actually, somewhere other than Christchurch would get us closer to the mountains, and I must admit that Sumner isn't a great surfing location. Telluride is a cool place. I was there some years back. If resort skiing/riding is desirable, then one can't beat the facilities of North America.

9:37 AM  
Blogger dmduncan said...

I was actually thinking more along the lines of Glenwood Springs...yes, skiing, boarding, and HOT springs too...or any number of a dozen smaller mountain towns in the Rockies...

2:43 PM  
Blogger Kea said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why must physicists be such narcissists? The best place to do physics is in a quiet attic, with a nearby grocery store and at least one bar. A piano helps.

But no, we are so special, we must be in some sort of natural cathedral - being gods, we must share God's view, of course!

I nominate, say, an old house in St. Louis. The people are nice, the beer is cold, and there are few distractions other than baseball and good Italian food. And there are no rich tourists to annoy or be annoyed by.


1:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

May I suggest the vicinity of
Big Sky, Montana?

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