Whodathunkit. The little town of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada hosts a world-class research institute attracting physicists from around the world to probe the mysteries of the universe.

I’ve just returned from the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, where I got the royal treatment–my own private office, limo rides to a fro, continuous access to an open food bar, and an audience of hundreds for my talk on private space travel.

As John Matlock, public relations director and my host at the institute put it, the place is competing with similar facilities in such renown tourist destinations as Paris and New York for brain power so they pull out all the stops in making researchers and other guests welcome.

The building itself is a marvel of glass and steel, filled with light, somehow providing the quiet and privacy needed to think big thoughts while conveying a sense of openness that allows conversations in public areas to flow naturally into secluded alcoves complete with fireplaces and leather armchairs.

My favorite feature is the blackboards seemingly on every available wall, most, like this one in the Black Hole Bistro on the fourth floor, filled with equations jotted by wandering physicists. The effect is to transform abstract thought into exquisite works of art, well-lit and prominently displayed, as in an art gallery.

Next time your travels take you to Toronto, build in enough time for the hour-and-a-half drive to Waterloo for one of the Institute’s public events. It’ll be an experience you won’t soon forget.

Meanwhile, I’ll link to the video of my own talk when it’s posted on the Institute’s website.