The Good Ol’ Days of Perimeter

I was looking over at Bee’s tasty Kokosmakronen (macaroon) post earlier and spotted a picture of her Perimeter Institute mug. I have one of those also, given to me as my thanks for giving some lectures on string theory to some graduate students there last year.

What I wondered at the time was whether they stopped making the mugs from the good ol’ days of Perimeter. Back when they were housed in that lovely funky building with the interaction room that also contained a pool table, disco ball, industrial coffee maker, and fully stocked open bar. Yep. Those were the good times…way back in 2001/2002 I think. Now they’re in the impressive new building, with tons more people, oodles of facilities, chefs, etc. Nice and all, but much more…. corporate-feeling. Less artisanal… I’m getting misty-eyed. And I was only visiting for a few weeks!

Anyway, I thought Bee (and maybe one or two others) might like to see one of those stylish mugs from those days. So I took a shot of the one in my office that I’d kept ever since that early visit:

perimeter mug

I much prefer it to the new ones, which are much more standard looking. And yes, Bee, these would indeed be better for wine, and beer, in addition to just tea and coffee. Much more versatile. Pity they seem to have all disappeared. Has anybody else out there got one? (Hmm, I should stop using it as a visitor’s mug… it might be worth something on ebay one day…)


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9 Responses to The Good Ol’ Days of Perimeter

  1. Bee says:

    Hi Clifford,

    thanks for this 🙂 Small wonder these cups keep disappearing! I have the impression they are constantly getting less and less in the kitchen. But then, well, you know, everybody I’ve every visited who has been at PI at some point, or has a relative who has been there, has at least one cup! I keep thinking they should just open a gift shop or something, like, you know selling the cups, and the T-shirts, and well, underwear and stuff, like they do in the university bookstores 😉

    While writing this, it occurs to me that there is a German slang ‘Nicht alle Tassen im Schrank haben’, which literally translates into ‘Have cups missing from the shelf’, but which means, well, the same as ‘having a crack in the pot’ (Einen Sprung in der Schuessel haben). So much about kitchenware for today,


  2. Cynthia says:

    Clifford, you ought to do a quick eBay search on coffee mug memorabilia! Oh sure, a genuine, crystal clear PI mug–in its own original box–is bound to fetch a hefty sum on the online auction block. Nevertheless, if you don’t mind a few scratches on the glass, you should be able to obtain a mug at a rock bottom price.;)

    By the way, I’ll echo your sentiment a bit. Being in a bizarre, funky-old building oozing with lots of multi-dimensional charm is doubtlessly favorable for out-of-the-box sort of pondering on quantum gravity. In contrast, being in a sterile corporate-like structure suspended in a lower(3+1)dimensional atmosphere would seem to stifle the flow of creativity. But then, I’m slightly under the impression that PI frowns upon higher-dimensional kind of thinking, especially the stringy variety.;) On second thought though, my impression of PI maybe somewhat misguided…

  3. Clifford says:

    Uh, I have one of the mugs already. I took a picture of it, above.

    But then, I’m slightly under the impression that PI frowns upon higher-dimensional kind of thinking, especially the stringy variety.

    That would be a spectacularly wrong impression. Change it. Perimeter is one of the largest and healthiest centers of unfettered string theory activity that I know of.


  4. Cynthia says:

    Clifford, I’ll gladly amend my impression of PI, at this very moment, in fact. In lieu of my highly naive comment on PI, I do wish you a most enjoyable day!

    By the way, I do see that you already have a mug. However, I don’t see anything wrong with trying to find a companion mug, even if requires a search on eBay to locate one.;)

  5. FineStructure says:

    I guess I very much like the mug as well as the equally interesting lecture that you have given at the perimeter. I dont think I am going to get any fancy mugs from perimeter anytime soon, although I have learnt quite a few things from many lectures posted in their website.

  6. nc says:

    The coolest mug you can get is this one: but they are pricey at $80 each.

  7. I like the logos on, for instance, the matchbooks at the bar of Caltech’s Faculty Club, the Athenaeum. The bar is officially called “the h-bar.” My wife and I tried unsuccessfully to explain that when we paid for Tommy Smothers’ drinks. Joseph Wambaugh (he has a great new novel) hung out at the h-bar so often that they have a drink named after him.

    I have a collection of Space Program coffeemugs from 20 years with NASA, Rockwell, Boeing, Lockheed Matin.

    I also have a mug from the big Silicon Valley lawfirm Morrison & Foerster. It reads: “MoFo.” That means something different in Jive.

    The Harvard Club coffeemugs are gigantic, at the personal choice of former member Teddy Roosevelt.

    What do the cups and glasses look like at Gravity’s Rainbow venue “The Rotating Vector”?

    Is there a Unified Coffee Mug theory?

  8. Clifford says:

    “Is there a Unified Coffee Mug theory?”

    I believe they are all manifestations of the same underlying object. A Torus. Replace all the many varieties of coffee cup by one Torus. Simple, elegant, and beautiful. This theory creates unexpected cross-disciplinary links with the confectionary world, showing that donuts (doughnuts) are in governed by the same underlying object. Some call this a prediction of the theory, but I think that’s a bit strong. It is highy suggestive/encouraging that I’m on the right track though. “To be sure”, I’d like to work out some predictions of it though. Perhaps one can tunnel from one type of mug to antoher, with some amplitude that one can calculate with this theory? Time will tell.


  9. Elliot says:

    Just remember coffee is dark and it give you energy…nuff said. Also it should be pretty easy to prove that our president is topologically equivalent to a Klien bottle.