ICHEP is over. After the last plenary session the few remaining braves stormed out of the auditorium, strained with conference fatigue, and headed back home. I must confess, I found a week-long conference, with six full days packed with presentations, pretty long and tiring. I'm not completely surprised that in the last days not many questions came from the (depleted) audience.
Since this is probably my last entry in this blog, I'll entertain you with a random collection of final impressions, and maybe a tentative balance on the blogging experience itself.
The conference itself
Lot has already been said and written, so let's simply put it this way: the conference was excellent. Superb location (Paris is always Paris), excellent venue (I was just astonished the Palais de Congres doesn't provide wireless microphones in the smaller rooms, everything else was perfect), very efficient organization (thanks!), and an optimal balance of contents. Ok, the catering was less-then-perfect, but why should we indulge in complaining about the little details? 🙂
The LHC has entered the game
Again, not a big news, but it's good to repeat it: we begin to see the first physics results from the LHC experiments! And even if this is not yet exciting new physics, those times are approaching fast: after more than 20 years of preparation, it's a nice sensation for the whole community.
Experiments vs theory
On the low side, I must say that I found the theory contributions in the first part of the conference a bit isolated. This is probably normal in the context of parallel sessions (and there were anyway good phenomenological contributions in the sessions more oriented to experiment), but as an experimentalist I probably missed the opportunity to learn something really new for me. For instance, I learned from Georg that:
the talks in the lattice session had actually been selected to be accessible and of interest also to people outside the lattice community (in particular there were a number of review talks), so it was a bit of a pity that the talks were attended almost exclusively by lattice theorists.
I agree: pity! Maybe this should have been advertised more? The situation was of course different in second part of the conference, and I really appreciated some of the more theory-oriented talks in the plenary sessions.
"Sliduments" vs nice talks
The quality of the talks was in general rather good, and of course touched its best in the plenary sessions. I had anyway the impression that the non-LHC and non-Tevatron speakers gave the best talks in the parallel sessions. I have a theory, at least for the LHC talks. Nowadays we (the LHC experimental physicists) routinely use slides as a support for documentation of the daily work we are doing. Most of us have taken the (bad!) habit of packing them of all the information we want to record, information that should anyway go into a written report, sacrificing the graphical quality - and the effectiveness when used as a visual support for an oral presentation - in favor to an hybrid object that the experts in the field call slidument. Sure, it's possibly something easier to present: one can pretend to use the text on the slide as a reminder of what to say, maybe even avoiding to reharse. Well, the quality of this kind of presentation will definitively be worse, it's guaranteed, and - if they maybe can fit a weekly collaboration meeting - will certainly not meet the standard needed for a conference . Have a look at the slides of some of the presentations in plenary session of Wednesday, for instance the ones on dark matter or cosmology: