Posts from 20th March 2005

20
Mar 05

The American Chemical Society held their annual National Meeting last week

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The American Chemical Society held their annual National Meeting last week, March 13 – 17. It was held in San Diego and around nine thousand papers were presented. The ACS and APS (physics) meetings are quite different. At the physics meeting, most of the talks are twelve minutes long, and many of those talks are given by students. It’s a friendly meeting and people aren’t out to make their careers or ask ball-busting questions. Therefore, it’s a good atmosphere for students to gain experience giving talks.

In stark contrast, at the chemists meeting very few talks are given by students. Many of the talks themselves are given by invited speakers (i.e. major players in the field) and are longer, 30-40 minute talks. This leads to a greater number of heated discussions and a more serious tone for the talk sessions. Of course, longer talks means fewer talks overall, and therefore most of the student contributions are shunted into the massive poster sessions. Of the talks I personally saw, only one (other than my own) was given by a student.

In conclusion, physics > chemistry.

The Physics Detective Part Nine — de Bruijn is Mr. Cranky

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The Physics Detective Part Nine — de Bruijn is Mr. Cranky

He certainly doesn’t pull any punches.
This week, I started getting a funny feeling that this story will end with Lister declaring that Jaeger committed suicide, or some similar type of cop-out ending. OTOH, do you know what’s not a cop-out? This:

“That damn Ludmilla princess. She’s gorgeous and she knows it. I have five times her publications, but I get recognized with ‘Ahh ? you’re that guy who works with Ludmilla!’ We may know maths, Inspector Lister, but we are still apes.”

“And you and Ludmilla…”

De Bruijn gave a bitter laugh. “No, Inspector, you are in a blind alley there. I think Ludmilla knows to bestow her favours where she stands to gain the most.” He glanced pointedly at Jaeger’s file on the table. “Although I tried warning her to keep a professional distance.”

OH YEAH BABY!!

I didn’t expect this. Honestly. Most of my Ludmilla comments have a combination of silliness/annoyance (ask yourself, how was it for you?) and wishful thinking.

A few loose ends were tied up. de Bruijn addressed my laser inquiry from several weeks back, i.e. why were they using such a powerful laser for this presentation? We heard yet another confirmation that Jaeger was a dumbass professor who had little or no good ideas, therefore relying on his students and postdocs for the upkeep of his reputation, even if it meant throwing them to the wolves when he felt that the pursuit of pristine self-preservation demanded it. Of course, these sorts of scientists do exist.

We could spend all day expounding on the line “We may know maths, Inspector Lister, but we are still apes” — probably the most confounding and provocative line of the story thus far.

One more week …