Thursday, December 22, 2016

Santa Barbara dorms for KITP visitors to open in early 2017

Two years ago, I wrote about a gift by Charles Munger (who is 92), who must be used to be referred to as the #2 in Warren Buffett's company, to the University of California in Santa Barbara (UCSB).

A picture from September 2016 already looked nearly finished.

Today, The Santa Barbara Independent reminded us that the project is almost complete. I think that the money wasn't wasted, like Warren Buffett's gifts to Hillary. Note that Munger's $65 million was enough for the whole project. A seemingly wealthier Bill Gates only paid a part for the "William Gates Computer Science" building at Stanford – and he sent the rest of the money to an African jungle.

The Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics (KITP) at the UCSB has the world's most intense program for visiting physicists. Workshops take place there almost without interruptions.

I came there in 1998 for the first time. Monica Curry was helping me with the housing – I rented a room from Krishna Priya whom I don't remember at all. ;-) Interestingly enough, Monica Curry is still mentioned as the KITP housing guru in the today's article in the Santa Barbara Independent.

I have returned to Santa Barbara several times – most intensely, I spent the first half of the year 2001 over there. At that time, I rented a room in Isla Vista. It's my guess that lots of visitors like me were dealing with the housing in similar ways and most of us weren't quite satisfied with the setup.

The situation as of Summer 2016.

Charles Munger has explained how important the physicists have been. If Hitler had figured out that it was counterproductive to attack the Soviet Union, Munger says, physicists could have been the last ones who could have saved the Western free world. Right.

Well, I would add that if they had failed to win, Germany would get some sort of control over the U.S., its regime would undergo a perestroika sometime in the 1980s, and billionaires who would speak both English and German would be paying lots of money to housing projects for the physicists – to express the Reich's gratitude to folks like Heisenberg who have found amazing theoretical things about Nature (despite their inability to fulfill miracles and build e.g. a nuclear weapon – no one can collect the 10 tons, the critical mass of uranium, Werner taught us).

My point is that the world could very well be rather similar to the present world if someone else had won the war. But I am not sure, of course.

At any rate, the dormitory is a three-story building on El Colegio Road with 61 units. The number three doesn't include the basement – which is unusual for Santa Barbara. The basement is full of ping pong tables, surfboards, musical instruments, bike storage, barbecues at the patios, and blackboards (especially the latter is very important for the physicists' social life and entertainment), not to mention flags of 50 countries.

You may also look at Google's Street View to see what the incomplete project looked like in May 2016.

Munger seems decided to donate another $200 million for additional "highly unconventional" UCSB dorms.

This is an actual Google map so you may drag it, zoom by the mousewheel, and perform additional acrobatics. Google Maps Engine has been discontinued but I asked the Google CEO for an exemption.

Aside from this map showing KITP – near the ocean – and Munger's dorms, you may also want to watch a 10-minute talk by Lars Bildsten, David Gross' successor as the KITP director, about the geometry and topology of Munger's dorms.

Thank you very much, Mr Munger, especially for those younger people who will no longer need to interact every day with individuals who have no idea what a D-brane is, like the landlords. ;-)

No comments:

Post a Comment