Thursday, November 4, 2010

Fringe fellowship benefits

One of the many (oh so many) benefits of the Canadian Journalism Fellowship program is that we get the opportunity to do some travel, meet people and have conversations we wouldn't normally be able to do if we were all still working in our newsrooms.
One such opportunity arose earlier this week as the fellowship travelled to Kitchener-Waterloo and spent just over day in the twin cities as guests of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. The itinerary: Morning welcome and quick introduction to Perimeter (at PI), followed by a roundtable and tour of the Institute for Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo. Lunch was held at Communitech, where we had the pleasure of meeting officials from Christie Digital Inc., Desire2Learn, the Canadian Digital Media Network and RIM. Following a brief rest, we trekked down to Waterloo Collegiate Institute to hear MIT's Seth Lloyd (I'll link the feed of the lecture once it's posted at PI) speak about quantum physics and photosynthesis. That wonderful lecture was followed by dinner at PI's renowned Black Hole cafeteria, where I had the pleasure of being seated across from Lloyd and one of the physics guys long-associated with PI, Lee Smolin.
This was a light-speed (no pun intended) jaunt through the region, a nice return for me since I started my journalism career there in 2002 and am a frequent return visitor-- though never with the access and experiences we had Wednesday.
The day was a stimulating series of conversations with people about the intellectual conversations and community construction that continues to happen in that region. From the academic and scientific gains being made at the institutes to the work being done at places like Communitech to enhance collaboration and invest in innovation and new-business incubation.  From the mathematical to the physical, technological, digital and intellectual, the day had all of our synapses firing continually. It was an eye opener for some of the fellows as well who had only a passing familiarity with Kitchener-Waterloo and were impressed at how the area has transformed itself. PI was compared, on several occasions and by ourselves, as the sort of meeting place that Massey College is-- although Massey is interdisciplinary and PI is for the brains of physicists.
It sets up our group for the pending travel-- we are off to Berlin for a week in December courtesy of the German government, and to cap off the fellowship in April we are (now confirmed) travelling to Finland and Denmark courtesy of those two countries' governments.
After the past day, even coming back to Massey seems like falling into a slightly lower level of the stratosphere.


Susan said...

Nicely done, Hugo. Appreciate the terrific summary. It was a good day, wasn't it?