GDR Summer School on mesoscopic physics in Corsica was a great success


Since there was no summer school on condensed matter physics in Les Houches this year, our Casimir Pre-PhD students were offered to take a European summer school of choice. Two of our students decided to travel to Corsica, France, for the French school on mesosocopic physics. Read here how one of them experienced it:

"Studying physics is fun, but not easy. Most students make long days and the matter is difficult to comprehend. This is only one of the many reasons that a break in doing regular courses and projects is welcome. And what a break it was!

The summer school nearby Cargèse dealt with quantum mesoscopic physics. A topic a knew not a lot about, however had my interest ever since I took the course mesoscopic physics in Delft. The topics of the courses were ranging from superconductivity to Landauer Buttiker formalism. In some courses the theory was set aside and we were taught about reducing noise in a quantum mesoscopic system. The lectures really put together a clear, coherent picture of theory and research in the field of mesoscopic physics.

Of course were the lectures not the only things we did. The weather, in the first week, was still great. This means that we would eat outside and after the lunch we would go to the beach for a refreshing dive in the water. Amazingly, the water is so clear that you would think that you are on a tropical island. Since there was plenty of free time between the morning lectures and the evening lectures, there was also room for reading in the sun, making a walk through the hills, visiting Cargèse or going for a run (in my case, I could make twice as more altitude meters in one run on Corsica, than in 950 km in The Netherlands).

Finally, the food. Every meal we have eaten, was great. In the morning we would start with some bread and a little of confiture, companied by a fruit salad and some cereal. The lunch was the big meal of the day. Three courses, including meat, fish, wine, cheese, desert, coffee. Needless to say, I gained a little weight. After the lectures, we would go out for dinner or cook in our apartment. Once we ordered pizza and watched a movie in the lecture room (on the big beamer).

All things considered, this summer school was a great break from the regular physics life. However, at the same time, I learned a lot of physics. Since this is in the end the goal, we can say without doubt: mission succeeded."

And one of our other Casimir Pre PhD students stated about the school:

"Tall mountain, beautiful beach and deep blue sea, this is the comfortable island where the institute located.

Every day, I got up at 7 to get ready for the school, and then take the breakfast, which was in a small coffee shop where the owner – the only stuff – can speak little English. Fortunately, I only needed to choose between coffee and tea, and then said “merci” and left. The institute is not close to the town, which usually took 15 minutes to get there. It could be longer if I spent some time on taking pictures. The route was mostly above the sea.

Lectures and talks started at 8:45. In the first week, theories in mesoscopic physics are taught, such as Green’s function in diffusive system and computing scattering matrix in time-dependent transport problem. I, a student that is experimental-oriented, really learned a lot. I hadn’t deeply get into these topics and calculation before. They are good supplement to what I have learned in Delft, where more focus was on intuitive explanation of the theories and experiments. In the second week, it is mostly about topological physics and talks about some newer experimental progress. Contents are more difficult but interesting, and many of them are new to me. During the two-week lectures and talks, plenty of notes are taken.

Between the morning and afternoon section, there was a break for almost 4 hours. Of course, I first had lunch, which was served by the school and was of extremely high quality. There are some seats outdoor, from which one can enjoy the view of the sea and the rocky coastline. After that, depending on the weather, I either hiked alone the coastline or reviewed what has been taught.

The second section of the school ended at 19:15, which was already dark. The school did not provide dinner, so I got back to the town of Cargese, either cooking in accommodation or ate in a restaurant with my roommate, a Chinese student doing PhD in Paris. His knowledge in French made it much easier to survive in the island. After the dinner, we usually discussed about what we learned in the day. He is a theorist working on topological phase who care more, for instance, on the derivation of formulas. The discussion really help understanding the lectures and talks. Outside, it was really dark. There was hardly any city-lights. Far away, there were blinking stars, and the light cast by the moon onto the sea."