Friday, February 02, 2007

Defender of the thesis

This evening I got to experience a live German PhD thesis defense (the equivalent of our British viva). This defense was for one of the PhD students at the AEI in Hannover who has worked on various aspects of the characterisation of the GEO detector. A German thesis defense (and I think this is similar across France and Italy to) is somewhat different than our viva. The defense can be attended by anyone, and this one had pretty much all the staff and students at the AEI in the audience - including a few of us visitors. It involved a 45 min talk on the work done by the student, followed by about 25 mins of questions from the thesis examiners, and then it got thrown open to the audience to ask questions. Being as we were in Germany the defense talk and questioning was conducted in German, although as a nod towards the fact that there'd likely be some native English speakers in the audience the talk slides were written in English. As the subject area of the talk was pretty familiar to me I managed to pick up all our gravitational wave type jargon. It was an interesting thing to experience, but I'm not convinced its how I want to spend many more Friday evenings.