The entire week from january 15 to 20 was one large meeting. If you look at a calendar, that includes the week-end of 19-20, and once you’re done reading this rant you’ll also realize it included the week-end of 12-13. All this in the name of LUX.
The first three days were a workshop. What this means, is that people attend to learn more about the experiment and ask lots of questions. What this implies, is that the sessions are for students and post-docs only. If a senior scientist is put in a room where people are discussing physics and asking silly questions, he will immediately start talking and probably never stop as long as caffeine is available. Thus, it was only us young’uns in there for three days.
It was a lot of fun! I’d never met most of those people before and they were all friendly and sensible. An interesting change from the common lot of physicists. It was also rather unsettling (but not unpleasant) to be easily dominating the debates in my quality of “senior post-doc”. Can you believe it? On the flip-side, I had to pay attention all day and find clever questions to ask everyone. That is really quite tiring… And then of course I had my own little presentations to make. On average 1.5 per day, which is why the previous week-end was not so peaceful either. I was also in charge of two out of the six sub-sessions, which means that I had to make sure other speakers were ready and on topic and such… wee! And then on the last day, as chair of the “free-style” session, I had to find new topics to discuss on the fly. Even went as far as improvise a black-board demonstration of how to derive a WIMP sensitivity limit.
Needless to say, after three days of this regime –plus staying in the evenings to entertain our visitors at the local restaurants!– I was quite dead. The next morning, which was a friday, PIs started arriving, and the actual collaboration meeting started. There is one thing that should now be obvious to everyone present: not a single one of them is able to hold to a schedule. 10 mins break invariably last 20 at the very least. 15 mins talks cannot go lower than 25. Introductory speeches will last as long as two regular interventions and unveil prematurely most of the content to come. Every single detail can potentially send us into half an hour of discussion. The contrast with our three days of workshop is… rather striking.
And so those days were long indeed. And the week-end, from 8:30 to 6:30, even longer. A few additional talks were given, a lot more suffered through. Catered lunches and breakfasts were had, and evening restaurants patronized. On sunday, people eventually started to leave around lunchtime and I was able to ride my bike home (for trolleys do not run early enough on sundays. Wise trolleys!). Afternoon was spent in a coma on the couch.
As a reward to myself though, I’ve decided to give in and buy a new laptop? More on that probably in the next update!