Robbert Dijkgraaf Lunch Lecture - August 31st

Summary and pictures

Thursday 10th of December 2015

The academic year of '15-'16 was initiated with the opening of the academic year on August 31st. One of the key speakers in the aula was Professor Robbert Dijkgraaf who has held positions at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, U.S. (IAS) and the Koninklijke Nederlandse Academie van Wetenschappen (KNAW). Before the official opening in the afternoon, a lunch lecture with Dijkgraaf was organised by the Honours Community. He could have spoken for hours about the big bang, string theory or mathematics, for which he has attained national attention in the public by giving lectures in De Wereld Draait Door, a primetime Dutch television show and he writes a column in the NRC Handelsblad. Instead, Dijkgraaf chose to elaborate on his own experiences during and after his studies at the University of Utrecht (BSc) and two years of studying arts at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie. He found that methods used at art school could be applied to scientific research, although in a more abstract way, as attention was not only given to producing a single structured end result, but also to small and seemingly meaningless digressions which contributed in an irreplaceable way. This also coincided with his philosophy of spending a tenth of ones time on activities in an other way than the path of least resistance. Also Dijkgraaf explained his views on authority, perseverance and human error and illustrated those with original analogies and anecdotes. Still, it appeared from further questions that the subject of his work in physics could not have remained untouched. We want to thank Robbert Dijkgraaf for his time and interaction one more time and hope for a good start of this academic year.