Tuesday, February 9, 2010

off to a short course

I am currently spending the week in Verbania, Italy, attending a short course on Microstructures and Physico-Chemical Properties of Earth and Planetary Materials. I am pleased to be here for a number of reasons. Not only is the topic of the course interesting, but the location is beautiful. The town is nestled between a large lake and some mountains. The views across the lake are lovely, and the view of the town against the hills as seen on the approach is very nice. I arrived on Sunday afternoon, taking the hotel shuttle the 7 km from the train station with a group of other attendees. Most of the people in our carload had travelled here from overseas—several from Brazil, and one from the US.

This is a very international group. While the majority of attendees are from Italy, the list includes Lithuania, Germany, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Ireland, Norway, Brazil, Mexico, USA, and Korea. As a result of the mix, despite being held in Italy, the lectures are all in English, for which I, as one of those people who still suffers from mono-linguistics, am grateful.

This morning started with lectures on the Microstructural Evolution in Materials Science, taught by someone in the Materials Science field. As a metamorphic petrologist, it was interesting to see him talking in terms of phase diagrams wherein one changes from a single phase to a double phase field due to *cooling*, rather than in response to heating. He is also accustomed to not considering effects due to pressure, since materials science tends to focus on processes which happen at surface temperature and pressure. Nonetheless, most of the information he provided us apply to geological systems as well.

After morning coffee break the next lecture was on the topic of Estimation of Anisotropic Physical Properties of Aggregates with Preferred Crystal Orientation with Applications to Seismic Anisotropy. This lecture was very, very heavy in math and formula, but it was supplemented by the occasional photograph of real samples, both in thin section, and in images made by TIM.

We then had a break for the very elaborate lunch served by the hotel, followed by an afternoon devoted to practical sessions on both morning topics (plus supplementary lectures). I've had to leave the room to go download a program I didn't know I needed, which is why I've got a moment to post this, which was written during an earlier break.

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