An international autumn school was organized jointly by NC Hungary (Mafihe) and NC Germany (jDPG) between November 21-24, 2013, in Budapest. Twenty physics students from all over Germany travelled to the city to attend lectures about the physics of complex systems, take laboratory tours and, perhaps most importantly, get to know each other as well as Hungarian students.
Most participants met first in the evening of Thursday, November 21, at Adagio Hostel, Budapest. It soon turned out that everyone was really open, friendly and patient, which was in fact necessary to survive the (otherwise painfully long) check-in procedure of the Hostel. After a hearty dinner, however, we visited the Opera Pub in Budapest downtown, where the introduction could continue with the assistance of some wine and pálinka.
The scientific programme started on Friday morning, with a visit to the von Kármán Wind Tunnel Laboratory at the Technical University of Budapest (BME). In this laboratory, the spreading of air pollution can be modelled for extended urban areas, for example, but the aerodynamic investigation of a large variety of objects (e.g. vehicle models) is also possible here. An enthusiastic PhD student talked about the research taking place in the laboratory and showed us some of the spectacular experiments in operation, too. After lunch, we went on to the neighbouring campus of Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE) to attend five guest lectures given by prominent physicists. The main focus of the school was the physics of complex systems, therefore we invited professors István Csabai (talking about data deluge in physics), Gergely Palla (complex networks), Imre Jánosi (laboratory modelling of large-scale environmental flows), Jenő Kürti (carbon nanostructures) and Tamás Vicsek (flocking and collective motion). In the evening, we returned to the hostel to discuss the operation, benefits and opportunities of IAPS, jDPG and Mafihe. At the end of this long day, we wandered once more into the old town to catch another glimpse on Budapest by night as well as to relax a little.
Early the next morning, the group departed by train to Szeged, the third largest town in Hungary, where members of the Mafihe local committee were already waiting for us. We then visited two advanced femtosecond laser laboratories at the University of Szeged (SZTE), whose research pave the way for the future Extreme Light Infrastructure, to be built on the outskirts of the town within the next few years. The ultra-short, ultra-high intensity light pulses are of great interest for various reasons. The interaction of light and matter can be studied with great accuracy, but they also contribute to the foundation of new technologies like tabletop particle accelerators and relativistic microelectronics.
Having finished with the lasers, we climbed to the tower of the Szeged Cathedral with an excessively entertaining native guide who, besides showing the sights, also had a number of interesting stories about the culture and history of Szeged. We also had some time to get to know our colleagues from the town before having to travel back to Budapest in the evening.
On Sunday morning, a number of participants presented their own fields of research at the ELTE campus, which was followed by the closing of the School and the farewell.
In total, the autumn school was a very enriching experience for all participants and hopefully, it was only the start for a future collaboration between the two associations and also for the improvement of the relations between physics students from different countries.