Monday, July 2, 2007


Germans must really love tests. Turns out a PhD final exam isn't quite enough to get you that tenure track Professorship; there is one more exam. From what I understand to get that great job, you must complete a Habilitation. Basically, you write a second PhD thesis, which must be reviewed by the entire science faculty at your university, and then give a 20-30 minute talk to a general audience about something related to your research, the exact theme of which is decided by the faculty two weeks before your talk. Anyway, I learned of this because Thomas, one of the researchers in my group, completed his on Thursday. His talk was great, and for the first time I really appreciated the dreaded Power Point talk (since it was in German the visualization of the words helped me actually understand it). The talks by the other three candidates (in Information Science, Botany and Geography) weren't quite as good, but hey, I'm partial to a subject that I actually know something about. But being a good mathematician, I had a pencil and paper with me, so before long I could go back to thinking about that problem I had been working on earlier. Thomas did receive his Habilitation; earning a piece of paper whose importance must correlate to it's size, since it was over 11 x 17 inches. We then were invited to a fantastic dinner out to help celebrate. We dined at a delicious French Brasserie, enjoying the food and the company. Sadly, Thomas and his family will be moving to Liverpool in September, where he has a new job at the university there. This however, may just mean that a trip to Liverpool will be happening at some point.

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