Say what you will against life in the upper echelons of higher education. By all means complain about the low pay, the long hours, and the increasingly desperate funding situation. Above all, rail against the crushing career insecurity, and the sad truth that no matter how far up the ladder you are, there is only an ephemeral membrane between you and the night shift at McDonald’s.
Where else can you sit down at a lunch table and hear such incredible conversation? Today, instead of being regaled with the latest football scores or celebrity gossip, we were dazzled an impromptu fifteen minute lecture about the Fibonacci sequence, the inevitability of hexagonal honeycombs, and the real reason why apples fall at precisely the right time – complete with kitchen towel diagrams and equations. Round it off with a debate about whether such things evolved or whether instead there are only a limited number of physical manifestations of matter, and that’s academia in a nutshell.