I’ve been living it up at the annual AAAS meeting this weekend. In the meantime, the scribbling masses have had to content themselves with cut-rate science blogs by the likes of Carl Zimmer and that Pharyngula guy.
Well, I’m still recovering from endless shrieking rides through the BART tunnels at inconvenient hours (BART seems to stop running well before the average science writer gets drunk enough to become truly rowdy). But to stave off your hunger, here are the brief highlights.
10. A crocheted replica of the Great Barrier Reef. (More on this tomorrow, if you’re lucky.)
9. An entire session on breakthroughs in prime numbers.
8. Five alligator snapping turtles, each the size of a manhole cover, mauling each other in slow motion.
7. Sure, we can store a gigaton of carbon in the deep ocean, and it’ll only lower the pH by about 0.4. One catch: Some fish will probably no longer be able to breathe.
6. The Annals of Improbable Research gave eight researchers exactly five minutes each to discuss their work before a dominatrix in a strapless velvet gown cut them off.***
5. Cameron Walker. The first stranger I have met who had already heard of this blog. This would be #1 on the list if I weren’t concerned about sounding giddy.
4. A riveting ivory-billed woodpecker conspiracy theory leaked to me by a reporter from a major science news outlet. I would report it here but either you or me needs to be drinking tequila for it to sound plausible.
3. Barramundi. The fish of the future.
2. Steven Chu says we can solve the world’s energy problems with solar cells and termite guts. He sounds pretty convincing.
1. Coffee in the press room served in shiny cups made of a durable inorganic substance. An ingenious spray-down method (performed behind the scenes by uniformed workers) returned the cups to a clean state and allowed essentially perpetual reuse throughout the conference. A loop of the same material thoughtfully provided on one side enabled the drinker to slip his/her finger through and grasp the hot mug without discomfort, eliminating the need for a cardboard baffle.
***(Mini highlights of A.I.R. session: A report on the limits of what the postal service will deliver without packaging [dead fish, human molar = OK]; a 3-min talk consisting entirely of the word “chicken” plus graphs and flow charts; a NASA engineer’s analysis of UFO exhaust suggests they use low-octane fuel and are probably visiting us for our gasoline.)