Æter in Europe. Original map by courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Being part of Scandinavia with Germany to the South, the UK to the West, Sweden to the East, and Norway to the North, Denmark is comfortably placed in Northern Europe. The country’s shape is defined by one of the largest coast lines in the world compared to land area, with the addition of a coastal climate which keeps the weather not too cold nor too warm. The largest and mainland part of the country is Jutland with the largest island being Zeeland where the capital Copenhagen is located. It is possible to study physics in Jutland in Aalborg and Aarhus as well as on Sealand in Copenhagen and Roskilde but we’ll focus on the central island of Funen with the city of Odense.

Æter

Æter (Danish for “ether”) is the student council for physics, chemistry, and pharmacy students in Odense at the University of Southern Denmark. Run by the students, Æter works in the interest of its students and influences the politics at the university in general and in each of the study programmes. Æter has its own rooms at the university where students can come to study or have fun with the other colleagues while drinking coffee for free.

Playing table football is not unheard of.

Though not obligatory, many of our members will have attended one of our christmas and easter lunches as it is customary to hold in Denmark. We also have a day for making christmas decorations as well as some movie nights.

A christmas decoration demonstrating the body centred cubic structure - a lattice structure in hard matter physics.

Usually around May, the grand finale is our trip where we go to a remote cabin somewhere else on the island to party and have fun for a weekend, supplying us with stories to tell until next year.

Æter celebrating fastelavn (Danish carneval)

When it comes to the relationship between students and researcher, Æter has started having the so called Torsdagste “Thursday Tea”. Every other time hosted by Æter and every other time hosted by the institute itself, it is an event where students and professors meet for tea and cake while talking about whatever they want. Often, it may be combined with a presentations on subjects such as job opportunities.

Æter also backs this year’s participants at ICPS, ensuring that their participation fees would be covered by the institute and the hearing support company Oticon. Though until recently forgotten, the University of Southern Denmark actually hosted ICPS in 2003.

The courses

When the students are not in Æter they are likely to be studying and the research and teaching is mainly associated with the three research centres.

In the theoretical corner is the Centre for Cosmology and Particle Physics Phenomenology (CP3) which does research in the area of elementary particles, dark matter, and dark energy. Their activities include conducting a winter school, workshops and cooperations with CERN among others. On a biweekly basis, they have the CP3 Lectures where external researcher visit to give a lecture on their topic of interest. The lectures are attended by researchers and advanced students but everyone is welcome. Recently, an extra 15 minutes have been added before the lecture to give time to explain the basics which the topic of the lecture builds on. More informal, a journal club is also regularly held where researchers and sometimes students present an article for discussion; also these meetings are open. Especially for students, more basic lectures are also held.

At one point in 2012, a Ph.D. student came to talk about being a Ph.D. student abroad. It was during this presentation, that the current physics students were first made aware of the existence of the ICPS and IAPS leading to a continuous Danish participation in the ICPS since 2013.

If you are a final or semi-final year bachelor student, you can get introduced to CP3 by participating in their brand new 2015 Physics Challenge. The challenge is designed to be a test of your skills in quantum mechanics, electrodynamics, statistical mechanics, and classical mechanics. It is also the exam of the CP3-Genius programme which provides extra physics courses for motivated bachelor students. Apart from meeting the staff at CP3, you get a signed certificate, and if you excel you will be announced on their website. If you think this sounds interesting, the exam takes place on-site at the university on September 3rd with the deadline for registration being August 31st.

If you are more into biophysics, you might want to consider visiting MEMPHYS - the Centre for Membrane Physics. An interdisciplinary centre, it aims to understand the mechanisms in biological membranes and the functions of their molecules. Some work is theoretical and involves computer modelling while other work takes place in the in-house lab and at research facilities outside of Odense and Denmark. They are also open to the outside so you if you like computer modelling in biophysics, you might want to visit their workshop this October.

Not to be forgotten, some of the researchers also study the science and physics of food, i.e. gastrophysics, with Memphys even being a partner in the outreach project SMAGforLIVET (English roughly “TASTEforLIFE”) which works to spread the knowledge on food and good taste.

Finally, the University of Southern Denmark also host the Center For Life and Living Technologies (FLinT in short) which aims at creating artificial life from inanimate materials. Their work is diverse with project ranging from constructing protocells able to grow with energy from the Sun, over metabolising electronic chips, to 3D printers. Though nothing to mention at the moment of writing this, they also make external events so you might want to look out for that.

The city

When you are not at the university you can go to the city. In the day, cafés are available with two, StudieStuen and Studenterhuset, specifically targeting students ensuring a nice place to study as well. StudieStuen (English: “the Study Living Room”) was founded by students in 2010 and continuous to be run and financed exclusively through the work of students. Events like lectures, concerts and social singing happen regularly.

StudieStuen - one of many cafés

Studenterhuset is supported by the city’s institutions for education including the university. Being the largest of cafés, it is often visited by musicians and comedians; they even have something called Science in the City where the researchers from CP3 come by for a beer and discuss physics with anyone who wants to.

For the culturally minded, the city has several museums, including one for Hans Christian Andersen, and the Brandts building complex containing a multi-story art exhibition and show venues. The cafés and additional venues make sure that public cultural, and some scientific, events are made all years round - Den Smagløse Café (English: “The Tasteless Café”) has a very small museum for sausages.

The one most active scientific associations is probably UNF (English: “the Youth’s Scientific Association”) which arranges public events for high school students, university students, and other interested. They have even arranged excursions to the nuclear reactor in Barsebäck, Sweden and the particle accelerator facility Dezy in Hamburg, Germany to name a few.

If you are really looking for something out of the ordinary, Odense also hosts several festivals every year with the municipality having recently invested in even more. To mention a few, the Odense International Film Festival in August is always a good way to see the newest in short films with three awards qualifying the winning films for an Academy Award nomination. The festival hosts several daily events where you can watch the participating films free of charge as well as an open air cinema with longer films.

If you, on the other hand, want to party with some music, the festival Tinderbox might be the thing for you. 2015 being its first year ever, the festival is in a small forest at the edge of the city and was celebrated this year with artists including Robbie Williams. A name fitting for a budget of around 40 million kroner or about 5.3 million euros.

Attending Tinderbox

If you don’t feel like paying for a festival ticket, you can also just go to the King’s Garden near the city centre where free concerts are hosted every Thursday during the Summer.

Interested?

Are you feeling tempted to come study here? With all master courses as well as many bachelor courses being taught in English, language should, in any case, not be a barrier. Though there are generally tuition fees for foreign students, citizens of the EU, EEA, or Switzerland are exempt from those and can study for free. Meeting some specific conditions, some even become eligible to receive the state education support which will cover some, if not all, of your monthly expenses. To see what applies to you, better sources are available online.

So from all of us to all of you: See you in Zagreb!

Find out more

If you want to get in touch with us at Æter, you are welcome to write to our e-mail: lc-odense@iaps.info

If you want to learn more about studying in Odense, we recommend checking out these pages:

Æter on Facebook: facebook.com/aeter.sdu
The University of Southern Denmark: sdu.dk/english
CP3-Origins: CP3-origins.dk
The Physics Challenge: CP3-genius-program
MEMPHYS: memphys.dk
FLinT: flint.sdu.dk/
Can I receive support from the state?: su.dk

If you want to learn more about spare time activities and life in general, you can also check out:

Tinderbox: tinderbox.dk
Odense’s website: odense.dk
This Is Odense (weekly recommendations): thisisodense.dk