Nordita Winter School in High-Energy Astrophysics (7-18 January 2013)

The 4th annual Nordita Winter School on Theoretical Physics

Final Report

The main topics, covered in 2-3 double hours, included:
  • General relativity and black hole accretion (Marek Abramowicz)
  • Neutron stars and pulsars (Juri Poutanen)
  • Cosmic Rays (Michael Kachelrieß)
  • Gravitational waves (B. S. Sathyaprakash)
  • Neutron star mergers (Stephan Rosswog)
  • Gamma ray bursts (Felix Ryde)
  • Particle-in-cell simulations (Gareth Murphy)

    Additional topics, covered in a single (double-) hour, included: Hard X-ray polarimetry (Mark Pearce), Model of Sgr A (Odele Straub), Magneto-rotational instability (Axel Brandenburg). Each day we had also seminars by students and staff, as can be seen from the detailed program (with proper times, as announced on the screen).

    Reading material was provided and the lecture notes are available on the same page.

    Overall structure of the school

    We had 2 double lectures (90 min) every morning (9-10:30 and 11-12:30). In the afternoons we had group work (13:30 - 15:20), and a more specialized seminar at the end of the day (16-17). In the afternoons, the lecturers of the morning visited the groups in turn and answered questions by the students.


    Denmark (2), Estonia (2), Finland (5), Iceland (1), Norway (3), Sweden (outside Stockholm 4: Stockholm 17), UK (2), Iran (1). The total number of participants was 37. Of those, 26 were students, including 8 women (31%).

    Overall response

    Both teachers and students enjoyed the group work in the afternoons. The teachers got a sense of the level of the students and the students felt the freedom in asking questions. Some teachers where particularly impressed by the high level of the students. According to the students, the material and the type of teaching was at an appropriate level.

    Suggestions for next time

    Most of the double hours were taught without a break. Although nobody complained at the time, there emerged a consensus at the end that instead of one 30 min break, one could have had three 15 min breaks. Also, our coffee break did not coincide with the Nordita coffee break. A better time table might therefore be 9-9:45 and 10-10:45 for the first double lecture, and 11-11:45 plus 12-12:45 for the second. Group work 14-15 for sessions 1 and 2, and 15:30-16 for session 3, followed by the seminar 16-17.

    In addition to student seminars, it would have been good to have a more detailed introduction by each of the students. Each student would go to the front and say something about their main interests (as has been done during several programs). Also, it would have helped to circulate a brief description of each of the students interests, together with a picture. This would also have been useful for the teachers.

    One of the Nordita students should have organized a pub crawl. (We did have this at previous schools, but somehow this got forgotten this time.)

    A tour through AlbaNova would have been of interests to many students. Again, we had something similar in the past, including a visit to the telescope, but this time it was forgotten.

    The students noted that the school was poorly advertised. They only found out about it by chance (often through their teachers). Both students and teachers expressed interest in receiving notifications about the Nordita newsletter. They didn't know about the Nordita programs or the opportunity to apply for a visiting student fellowship.

    Some students didn't bring a computer. There might have been an opportunity to borrow one from Nordita, but nobody thought of that.

    The two dinners at AlbaNova were regarded as a success. Many people enjoyed the opportunity to sit there as long as they wanted without being thrown out, as would be the case in a restaurant. The students also enjoyed the free lunch with the lunch ticket.

    It would be good to appoint one of the Nordita post-docs as an assistant to the school organizer to help with emails, posting of lecture notes, the dinners and reception.

    $Date: 2013-01-19 13:31:54 $, $Author: brandenb $, $Revision: 1.8 $