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The Deed is Done

Submitter: Jan Noordam
Description: In the normal order of things, the defense of a PhD thesis is regarded as a final exam for a budding researcher, the public demonstration that he or she has got what it takes to embark on a wild and wonderful Life of Science. Naturally, the candidate will be keen to clutch the guiding hand of his or her supervisor, who not only posesses superior wisdom, but also a network for launching the young doctor into a prestigious first postdoc position.

However, things are a little different when the candidate stands at the end of a glittering career. Such people often get honorary doctorates, which tend to be festive exercises in self-congratulation. But some take the trouble to write and defend a real thesis, to offer the World the integrated result of a lifetime of contemplation and experience. Needless to say that this is much harder on the hapless supervisor.

Today, Friday Dec 14th 2012, assisted by two thinly disguised bouncers, Ir Jaap Bregman will defend his voluminous thesis at Groningen University. He will be opposed by the largest examination committee in the history of that venerable institution (1596). The title is "System Design and Wide-field Imaging Aspects of Synthesis Arrays with Phased Array Stations". It is all about the design of LOFAR, and the ramifications for SKA. Obviously, the subject is rather technical and specialist, but it will be made more accessible for a wider public in a series of special colloquia. The one in Dwingeloo will be given on tuesday Dec 18th (15:30).

Note to our foreign friends: In the Netherlands, the highly respected technical universities bestow the academic title of "Ingenieur" (Ir), which hails from "ingenious" rather than from "engine". This is considered sufficient preparation for those who are subsequently entrusted with protecting the country from the onslaught of the sea, or with building cutting-edge radio telescopes. Prof Oort was quick to realize that he needed the help of ingenieurs like Jaap, and gave the example in treating them as the equals of astronomers. This happy situation has largely endured, although the interspecies gap is widening, and we may be slipping towards the anglosaxon model. In any case, our Jaap's PhD is just the cherry on his cake.

Copyright: ASTRON
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