16 December 2010

Random Walks in Science

Posted by mohi

Peter Rayner

Peter Rayner, an atmospheric scientist from Australia, gives insight into what Fall Meeting is like for the blind.

A Random Walk in Science is the title of  a famous collection of anecdotes and distilled wisdom much loved by a generation of aspiring boffins. My AGU Fall Meeting experience is best described as a random walk in geophysics.  It is, as I told AGU Outreach Chair Randy Richardson, always a challenging meeting.

Added to the usual panic of a swimmer struggling desperately in a torrent of information (before succumbing by about Wednesday) are the more basic questions like “Where on (or under) Earth am I?” “What was that last session about, it certainly wasn’t the one I was looking for?” and “Who was that person greeting me like a long lost brother?”

There is no shortage of compensations though.  By 10 Monday morning I had met two people I hadn’t seen in 15 years.  My mean time between pairwise interactions with colleagues is now down to about 4 minutes.  If my courage holds I might even try the poster hall today, although the last time I tried that I was subducted somewhere into the mantle and feared I might never resurface.  It’s a lot of fun but I look forward to recovering over Christmas.

–Peter Rayner is an atmospheric scientist at the School of Earth Sciences, University of Melbourne, Australia