Thursday, May 6, 2010

Comparing this weeks EGU meeting with December’s AGU meeting

Having attended AGU in San Francisco in December, and being at EGU in Vienna this week, it is interesting to compare and contrast the two conferences. Both conferences offered the ability to create a “personal program” by browsing the web page or searching for specific key words, and clicking upon all talks/posters which sound interesting. Then with the push of one button it created a printout of everything I wished to attend, organized by day and time. I recall thinking at the time that AGU didn’t seem to have much of interest in the way of metamorphic or experimental petrology. Looking back on my personal program from that meeting, I count four talks and 26 posters on my personal program (plus two other talks on educational topics that I didn’t actually make it to). For EGU my personal program contains 27 talks and 60 posters.

Are there really that many more people in Europe working in fields which sound interesting to me, or have I become better at choosing search terms? Come to think of it, while I’ve not done a count, I have a vague impression that more of the authors of papers I’ve been reading are based in Europe, India, or Asia than in the US, so perhaps there really is a difference in focus between the two organizations.

One place where AGU excelled over EGU was the facilities they provided for internet access. Both organizations provided free wireless access, but AGU set up long tables and chairs, with power strips in sufficient quantity for everyone who wanted to use their own computer to do so without relying on battery power, and there were also cables available for internet access for those of us who preferred not to, or couldn’t use wireless. At EGU those of us who don’t have reliable computer batteries are limited to the occasional wall plug. While there are some low tables scattered near the food courts, very few of them happen to be within reach of wall plugs. As a result it is a common sight to see people sitting on the floor near an outlet, computer in lap. Occasionally one of the chairs will be dragged to an outlet to permit the electric-dependant computer user to sit in slightly greater comfort, but still with a computer on the lap. This explains why my posts are all lagging a day behind—while lap based internet access is sufficient for reading blogs or e-mail, it is not quite comfortable enough to encourage me to type. Therefore this is being typed sitting at a desk in the home of my host, and will be posted tomorrow, when I am back at the conference and once again have internet access.

My poster session at this meeting suffered from the same dearth of eager visitors as I experienced at AGU. While I could hear many conversations at most of the other posters in my range, most of the people on site who are interested in experiments on metapelitic compositions must have looked at the poster during the day when the author wasn’t present (as I did for all of the posters I wished to see). However, I did have one person come by and talk to me about my work—he has been doing isochemical section modeling for natural samples that include talc, and hasn’t been happy with the results he’s been getting. He uses Thermocalc (I know because his poster was on my list of things to see, so I went to look at it this morning, during a time when the author wasn’t present) and asked me about the Perplex activity model for talc. I looked it up and we discussed how my experiments aren’t very well predicted by Perplex. He commented that he thought that perhaps a non-ideal model would give us both better results matching the models with reality.


Bruce said...

Thank you for doing this blog. Just to let you know that the constructive comments about the internet access have been heard, including the lack of power strips. We will be doubling to tripling wireless bandwith at EGU GA 2011 (again in Vienna), and I will look into the possibility of getting powerstrips in more places that people can use. The ethernet cables are more difficult (due to various reasons) but I will enquire about these.

Bruce D. Malamud (King's College London)
Programme Chair
EGU GA 2010-2011

A Life Long Scholar said...

Hi Bruce,

Thanks for the comment, and the offer to improve next time. To be fair, I think you guys were on top of it this time, too; before the end of the meeting I noticed power strips being shared by more than one computer user.

Thanks for setting up a program that includes sufficient of interest for those of in the corners of our science to hold our attention, too.