Ventotene

I just came back from a week on the Italian island of Ventotene, where I participated in a very nice conference on “Manifolds and groups”. This is of course not my usual topic, and besides giving a minicourse on expanders and coverings (with a focus on geometric applications of expanders having to do with coverings…), I learnt a lot of interesting things. I particularly enjoyed the other two minicourses, by T. Gelander on invariant random subgroups and by R. Sauer on Lücks’s Approximation Theorem. (For both of these, as well as for a number of other talks, the slides are available on the conference web page; my own — handwritten — notes on my course should appear there soon, after I scan them).

Being an island, Ventotene is reached by boat. One of the interesting things about the trip to Ventotene was to observe how birds

Birds
Birds

would follow us until a very definite point, and then suddenly disappear.

Also, the instructions to launch a lifeboat are rather daunting…

Lifeboat
Lifeboat

The organizers had scheduled a lot of free time during the conference besides the scientific programme. I was therefore able to take a few pictures, such as some of the local lizards,

Lizard
Lizard

and some of the wonderful local cats.

Cat
Cat

The end of the week also coincided with the beginning of the ten-day long celebration of the island’s patron saint, Santa Candida. Among the festivities were the evening launches

Balloon
Balloon

(over a week) of huge hot-air balloons (“Mongolfieri”), with some fireworks

Fireworks
Fireworks

(note the amusing effects of my camera’s fireworks scene setting without tripod…). Some Galois-theoretic persiflage was also notable…

Persiflage
Persiflage

Update The scans of my lectures can be found here.

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Kowalski

I am a professor of mathematics at ETH Zürich since 2008.

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