Saturday, November 2, 2013

Conference Blog (Day 2: Bad Astronomy and Day 3)

Dear Diary,

I'm heading back south now after leaving hte conference.  It went really well!

Last night, I saw a talk by the Bad Astronomer who runs a blog called Bad Astronomy.  He was really funny and entertaining.  Apparently, the only reason the earth was saved in Armageddon was because Michael Bay was directing!  Afterward, I got a picture with him.

He talked about how asteroids can get really close to earth sometimes and that can be dangerous.  However, if we could spot them years in advance and park a satellite near them, then the gravity from the satellite would change it's course enough to cause a miss.  Hooray!  Apparently, if you make it pass by earth in the right way, the resulting perturbed orbit will cause the asteroid to come back and hit us a few years later.  Yikes!

I think this means we should make a movie where NASA is defunded by the bad guys and Bruce Willis has to go into space, change the course of an asteroid heading towards earth, and then go back to earth and restore NASA's funding.  Yippie Kay-yay!

We then went to bed.  While heading back to the hotel, I noticed that Charles Schultz, creator of Peanuts, had some influence on the campus because there's a lot of allusions to Charlie Brown and company around.  The residence halls are also named after famous wines: Zinfandel, Cabernet, Sauvignon, Tuscany, etc., but residence are not allowed wine!  Well, you know what they say about people who live in glass bottle houses...

The next day, we finished up the talks with some really riveting physics.  The last talk was by a student at Santa Clara University who looked at organic solar cells doped with glycerine to see if one could make a longer lasting cell.  My interest was piqued and I asked about some anomalous features of their data (the efficiency went up for 10 minutes and then we down for until 600 minutes due to oxidation).

Unfortunately, I missed Kevin's talk.  One should always be there for group mates.  I got the rooms confused, stupidly...Kieron will probably chide me about this...I'll have to do better next time.

Afterward, Kevin and I went home but dropped a UCSC student off at a BART station.  He was really interesting to talk to...we covered quite a bit of ground and even discussed this morning's Higgs boson lecture!  Some students from CSULA went off to see the countryside and what all this wine growing is about.  I think it's a good practice to see the surrounding area if you go to a conference in a new area.  You wouldn't get reimbursed for those expenses, but I think it's worth it to see a new geography. But both Kevin and I have pressing issues to attend.  Otherwise, maybe we'd have gone wine tasting!

Well, what a conference.  Next year, I'll have to go again when it's held in Reno, NV!

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