Archive for August 30th, 2010

ICM2010 — Avila, Dinur, plenary lectures

August 30, 2010

I dragged myself out of bed on the third day feeling pretty terrible — in fact, terrible enough to be slightly worried that I would be doing myself some damage with this succession of short nights, which I couldn’t see how to do anything about, given the necessity of starting early (a result of the schedulers’ evil decision to put superstars and known excellent speakers on in the first slot of the day). But nothing much distinguishes the beginning of the third day from the beginnings of the two previous days, so let me jump to the first talk, Artur Avila’s plenary lecture.

But before I do so, I have remembered one small thing that did make this day slightly different. In order to put on the unpleasant insect repellent, I took off my name badge, and then I forgot to put it back on again. I realized what I had done just as the bus was pulling out of the hotel. I wondered whether it was worth delaying the bus for three minutes while I dashed to my room and back, but Irit Dinur, who was in the same bus (I had not previously realized she was even at the same hotel, because she took a much more relaxed attitude than I did about getting up for the first talk — the previous day she’d watched the streaming video from the hotel instead), told me that she had forgotten hers yesterday, and the only consequence was that she had had to go and ask for a replacement. Well, that wasn’t quite the only consequence — the replacement badge no longer said, “Invited Speaker” on it, and she did not get a new set of coupons for lunch and coffee.

I decided I could handle walking around as a mere delegate, and could even handle not having a lunch coupon, though that was slightly disappointing. But for some reason when I asked for my replacement badge it was an exact replica of the original one and it did come with the coupons. (So in theory I could have had seconds for lunch the next day — but in fact I ended up not even having firsts.)

Artur Avila is young (we were told that he was this ICM’s youngest plenary speaker) and strikingly handsome in a black polo shirt and dark jeans, as this photo demonstrates rather inadequately.
Etienne Ghys and Artur Avila just before Avila's plenary lecture