Tag Archives: mit

Back from Boston

I spent the end of last week in Cambridge, where I gave a talk at MIT about the homology of Hurwitz spaces.

  • Good addition to Harvard Square: there’s now a used-book table on Mass Ave, like the ones I used to patronize on Broadway in Morningside Heights. I flipped through “Strike From Space,” a 1965 book by Phyllis Schlafly and Lester Ward, with the thesis that dopey Democrats were getting head-faked by the Soviets into escalating our commitment to Vietnam, which conflict was in fact not the firewall against an all-red Asia but a mere Soviet plot to distract us from an imminent nuclear first strike from orbit. Bad addition to Harvard Square: a Qdoba! I thought fast food was forbidden from Harvard Square by zoning laws, but apparently you can apply for an exemption — here’s Chipotle’s application to open a restaurant at One Brattle Square.
  • I had the pleasure of meeting Andy Putman and learning about a beautiful recent theorem of his; the moduli space of genus-g curves with full level N structure has the same second homology as M_g itself, for g at least 5. As a corollary, all these spaces have Picard number 1. I also learned a lot from Denis Auroux about mapping class group factorizations and symplectic Lefschetz fibrations — but more on this when I write a post or two on Hurwitz spaces.  Update: (25 Sep 08) Putman’s paper is now on the arXiv.
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Two good lines

  • Today in a bookstore, a couple brushes by me. Her to him: “I’m judging you so much right now.”
  • My friend Lauren had the singular honor of judging the M.I.T. Nerdy Pickup Line Contest. The winner:

“Hey, baby, I don’t have a nerdy pickup line, but I can prove that one exists.”

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