Saturday, March 26, 2005

The March Meeting

I just got back from the American Physical Society March Meeting in Los Angeles. This meeting is one of the wonders of the world. This year, there were over 6,500 talks, so the attendance was probably near 7,000. (We're supposedly allowed only one talk per attendee, but there are sometimes multiple talks anyway. On the other hand, some people concoct other reasons for going to the meeting, so I'd say 7,000 is about right.) At any moment from 8am to 6pm, Monday through Thursday, there are 40 talks going on, not to mention several hundred posters being displayed. On Friday it slacks off, with meetings ending at 2pm.

It's impossible to take it all in, of course. You pick the talks you want to hear, listen to them, possibly stay for the next one to be polite, then go out and wander the halls. If it's known that you can hire postdocs you'll be greeted by students you've never met, asking about your institution. If you've been going to these things for some time there are also friends, colleagues, and rivals to talk to and about. Special sessions are held on Sunday and every evening, not to mention business meetings.

And then, suddenly, it's all over. Fridays at the APS are like a ghost town, as almost everyone's left and the convention center staff is tearing down the sets and putting up the stuff for the next group. So we all go home. Worth it? Yes, but exhausting. Next year's in Bawlmer Murlyn, come on out and visit, hon.