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Comments on Baikal School 2009

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V.G.Bagrov / В. Г. Багров (Tomsk State University)

Я считаю, что школа "Байкал 2009" была весьма успешной и весьма полезной, особенно для молодых ребят, которые могли на ней подчерпнуть много нового из "первых рук". Следует особо подчеркнуть хорошую организацию школы, которая в основном была обеспечена иркутянами, за что им особая благодарность. Школа становится уже традиционной и я считаю, что эту традицию непременно надо сохранять и укреплять. С наилучшими пожеланиями, всегда твой В. Г. Багров.

N.Kivel/Н.Кивель (Бохум)

Дорогой Дима, по моему мнению, все прошло хорошо и особых замечаний в плане организации я не имею. Программа была очень насыщенной и для студентов иногда непростой, но зато разнообразной. Конечно английский знать необходимо, но многие как мне показалось, еще не были готовы полноценно воспринимать материал на английском. Может быть поэтому полезно было бы заранее иметь на руках распечатанный вариант английской лекции (хотя осознаю что это дополнительное требование к лекторам, возможно, трудновыполнимо). И еще мне кажется, что на такой школе нужно делать особый упор не на обзор последних достижений, а скорее на педагогическом введении в предмет, не перегружая материал избыточными нюансами. В целом школа получилась замечательная, спасибо еще раз за приглашение! С наилучшими пожеланиями, Коля

Michelangelo Mangano (CERN)

Dear Dr. Naumov, this is to thank you once more for the kind invitation to lecture at the 2009 Baikal Summer School on the Physics of Elementary Particles and Astrophysics. It has been a most memorable experience! I am happy to send you these few comments of feedback, hoping they will be useful for the future organization of this event.
The location of the school is ideal to allow for a close interaction between the students and the lecturers, and the scientific programme is ideally suited both to educate the students, and to bring up to date even the more senior participants (like the lecturers) on the latest developments in the field. I met at the school several colleagues that I had not seen in some time, and it was great to learn about their latest work!
The composition of the student body is quite diverse, with students from the early years of college, up to those approaching the completion of their PhD. This presents a challenge for the lecturers, who need to prepare lectures at a level suitable to all. I consider this a positive feature, since it forces each lecturer to think more deeply about what they plan to say, rather than keep iterating the “old slides”. The effort to be understood by the younger students will ultimately benefit everyone, including the more senior students. The timing of the lectures is perfect, as it allows for sufficient time for questions and discussion. The break after lunch is very helpful in this respect, since it gives students time to review the material of the morning lectures, and to prepare questions for teh discussion session. The programme is well thought out, with a thorough coverage of the basics, and many 1-hour presentations on specific hot topics of interest.
I had many conversations with students, even outside the time dedicated to the formal discusion sessions. They are all extremely eager to learn!! This possibility they have to interact with researchers other than their usual teachers is very beneficial: they are forced to express themselves in a foreign language, to learn how to formulate questions, to overcome their shyness. Furthermore, these interactions could establish a precedent for future collaborations, or open the way for periods of study or research abroad. I have already been contacted by several of your students, who enquired abut opportunities to visit CERN and apply to its fellowship programmes.
As I said above the location of the meeting is fantastic! The very simple lifestyle and the vicinity of everything allows to focus on the physics, without nevertheless missing a chance to have more relaxed and informal physics discusions. Being there avoids the distractions of being in a town, where students and lecturers disperse with visits to the city once the lectures are over. It is therefore a full-immersion experience, which I am sure greatly benefits the students. The logistics of the organization is perfect, everything run very smoothly and without problems. The availability of internet was also a major plus, since it allowed us to keep contact with out work and families.
Thanking you once more for the excellent organization, I do strongly encourage you to continue the school in the future, your future generations of students will be very grateful! Best regards, Michelangelo Mangano. TH Division

Mikhail Sapozhnikov/Михаил Сапожников (ОИЯИ, Россия)

Школа прошла замечательно. Очень четкая организация. Александр Николаевич и Ольга Николаевна все сделали замечательно. Спасибо тебе за прекрасную научную программу. Она на уровне школы ЦЕРН-ОИЯИ. Я лично узнал много интересного. Очень хорошая педадогическая находка - разделить студентов на группы и инициировать обсуждения. Подарки за лучший вопрос - Песталоцци! Что можно было бы поменять в будущем - все-таки проблема с языком есть. Студентам это физику мешает понимать. Плюс сам уровень школы ЦЕРН-ОИЯИ - это уровень молодого научного сотрудника. Студенту 4 курса, наверное, не все понятно. Может быть имело бы смысл, допустим, с утра разговаривать на английском и обсуждать frontiers, а после обеда - на русском языке читать лекции на студенческом уровне. Еще раз большое спасибо всем организаторам школы!



Sanjib Mishra (South Caroline University)

Participating in the Baikal Summer School was a memorable experience. I presented lectures on ``Neutrino Physics". I summarize my observations below:
A Setting Conductive to Learning and Thinking: Profs. Vall and Naumov strove, and succeeded, in creating an atmosphere most conducing to learning and thinking. The setting of the school was open and informal that maximized the interaction between the participants, especially among the students and lecturers. The superbly thought out lectures were leisurely paced with ample time for questions. The discussions would start in the morning and, often, would stretch deep into the evening. I had the pleasure of knowing a splendid group of students. I came away with a rare feeling: I taught something and learned much.
A Majestic Sight: The lake Baikal, girding the little village of Bolshie Koty, was resplendent with its ever changing colors, breeze, and the looming mountains. Along the dirt path, past a tumbling stream, was a school where Rubakov was talking about Cosmology!
Gentle, Inspirational Presence of the Organizers: The organizers looked after, and took care of, every convenience needed to make the school a success --- and, yet, they never disturbed the gentle rhythm of learning and teaching. The Ph.D-students were the guardians of the students attendees. The supporting staff were full of smiles imparting a mood, as it were, to forget the unessentials and to focus on the fundamentals.
A Vibrant Student Body: At the heart of the school, however, were the wonderful students striving to learn and to teach. Often times, I would watch them discussing the lectures by the lake shore late into the evening. I note with pleasure the several well prepared seminars presented by the students.
I have lectured at various summer schools --- Erice, NATO, QCD-CTEQ, Aspen, to name a few. The Baikal School, however, was a singular experience. I fervently hope that the School will continue to flourish; inspire many generations of Russian scientists --- and scientists at large in the world; instill the love of creating science; and remain for ever, the unspoiled, majestic, Baikal.
Sanjib R. Mishra
M.J.Mungo Distinguished Professor
Department of Physics and Astronomy
University of South Carolina
Columbia; SC; 29208; USA



Yosef Nir (Weizmann Institute of Science)

Dear Dima, It is an exceptional school in many aspects: the location, the audience, and the atmosphere. I believe that it plays an important role in the scientific career and in the life of the students that take part in it. When judging it, all these aspects have to be taken into account.
Clearly, the school is organized in an excellent way. To have a school running as smoothly as this school ran, with all the logistic problems related to the location, is almost a miracle. The equipment, the schedule, the food, the excursion, and the personal care that I experienced as a lecturer, were all very impressive.
Most of the lecture series (though not all) were world-class. If you have Rubakov lecturing on cosmology and Mangano on QCD, you have the best possible lecturers. I think, however, that you can build on this basis, and make the list of lecturers more and more impressive.
The level of the students had huge variations in it, which makes it somewhat difficult for the lecturers to satisfy all, or perhaps even most, of them. In particular, some of the students are at a rather beginning stage, perhaps below the threshold of other schools. Yet, I do not think that you should make stronger requirements on the threshold. I can clearly understand that the very encounter of these students with top-physicists from Russia and from around the world is a very important experience, even if they are not able to follow all the lectures in detail.
I strongly believe that such schools carry an important message of values that are different from power and money, of world community, of scientific excellence, of human relations, and even of organization, that are at least as important as the scientific details. It could well be the case that a large percentage of the students will not pursue an academic career, but even if we just made them appreciative of physics, and of the way that physicists communicate and interact, we have done a great service to physics (and to society). It seems to me that your school plays such a role to an even deeper level than other schools.
Personally, this school has been a strong positive experience for me. The human encounters, the environment, and the beauty of Nature, have all had a lasting impression on me, and I am truly thankful for this opportunity.



Andrea Romanino (ICTP)

Dear Dima, thank you for organizing again a great event! I enjoyed the school very much. Nowadays it not easy to organize new initiatives with high international standards, with so many events being held around the world and so many commitments for the top scientists. However, the Baikal school showed a great attractive power, as witnessed by the attendance for example of Rubakov, Mangano, Nir, top names in their fields. I think this is because of the uniqueness of the place, so wild, beautiful and exotic (at least for people from abroad) and the unique atmosphere of the school that who had been there before had the opportunity to appreciate. The constraints provided by the location, the very informal setting, and the lifestyle force a close interaction between students and lecturers, enhanced this time by the discussion sessions and the prizes for the best questions. The latter show a well thought organization effort and a constant effort to optimize the return for students. So I think the potential of the natural setting was well capitalized to obtain an excellent scientific output. Keep in touch! Andrea



Piero Spillantini (INFN Florence)

Dear Dmitry, I wish to warmly thank you for your invitation to the International Summer Baikal School at Bolshie Koty. I appretiated the quality of the lessons, the application of the students and of the teachers, and their enthusiasm and participation, beyond the official schedule of the lessons and discussions. A great value was the participation of the teachers to the lessons of the other teachers among the students, with stimulating comments and questions. In no one of the activities I could feel the division between the students and the teachers, and all we felt as members of the same homely community. I wish to underline that I also appreciated several details of the organization: the award (also if modest and symbolic) given by each teacher to the student that asked the best question at his lesson, the seminars of the students themselves, the English language adopted for the lessons (it's the effort toward the 'real life'!) complemented by the Russian language version after dinner for some of the more crucial lessons, the subdivision of the students in articulate groups (with a more experienced student as leader) for the discussion of the lessons lissen during the day. Also great was the idea of distributing to students at the end of the school a form for their evaluation of each one of their teachers. Unforgettable the ospitality of prof. Vall and of his house, and of all the personnel. I hope that he activity of the Baikal Summer School could continue in the following years without loosing his character and improving the international participation of students and teachers. My best regards and thanks again for giving me this opportunity, Piero Spillantini


V. A. Rubakov (INR, Moscow)

Dear Dmitry, Thanks a lot for inviting me and for the hospitality. I think the School was successfull in many respects. You had good team of lecturers, very devoted and interested students, lively discussions and fantastic atmosphere. As suggestions for the future: (1) It may make sense to organize "pre-School" at Irkutsk for the youngest students, to expose them basics of quantum field theory and particle physics; such a "pre-School" may possibly be used to start overcoming the language barrier; (2) It is desirable to stronger publicize the School; I am pretty sure that students from European part of Russia would be interested to participate, and their supervisors can sometimes support them financially. Best wishes, Valery




Giorgio Torrieri (Frankfurt University)

Well, I thought the school as it is is very well organized and the atmosphere was really nice. One issue is the somewhat uneven distribution of topics. I think an introduction to the problem of quantum gravity course would really be necessary (basically to say why its a problem, what we could calculate with quantum gravity, and what are the solutions on the table). On the other hand, the lectures on neutrinoes, while very interesting to specialists, were perhaps a bit too technical for the average student. There was simply too much material for an upper-level undergraduate. But overall, the school was great. I would definitely come back.


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