Thursday, April 26, 2007

the frauds among you

Today I managed to sit through five hours of scientific presentations without retaining a single iota of information. I believe in keeping my brain virginal for my lord.

This is what it looked like inside my head during the morning sessions of Brain Research Day: "blah blah microglia blag blah astrocytes and photon imaging ooo I wonder what we're having for lunch blah blah membrane potential", all the while looking attentive and engaged. It's a gift.

I did learn a few things though. This is what I observed:

  • approximately 30% of the men in the audience were wearing striped button-down shirts
  • the average age of PhD graduates is now 14, while the average age of professors lies somewhere between 40 and 120
  • arial is the overwhelmingly favoured font of choice in scientific presentations
  • they should really consider handing out emery boards with the agendas and name tags, as these conferences offer excellent opportunities to fix up those nails a bit, and mine are really rather ragged
  • scientists do not favour the wearing of the fringe. I spotted only 5 fringes amongst the males (and this was in an audience which included grad students), although I have to admit that one lad was sporting a rather fabulous emo kid fringe and that made up for the plethora of science-boy cuts
  • the spinal cord and nerve regeneration program is actually pretty cool, and the neuroArm program which builds medical robots is fucking awesome
  • a presentation explaining the math behind magnetic resonance imaging is not the most boring thing in the history of the world - electrophysiology is.

All in all, a damned fine Research Day!


justacoolcat said...

And you said you'd didn't retain an iota. Nanobots Rule!

Evelyne said...

Love that label!
Scientific presentations can be really boring I guess, I remember walking in the office of one of my teachers this semester and he looked so sleepy, he apologized and said that the 2 hours long talked that he just went to was really boring, can't even imagine one day long! And in biology the names of proteins and stuff like that just doesn't make sense (well to me), why do they all have similar names or names that take 5 minutes to pronounce?

I love your observations (Arial font, so true, at least it was not comics), it is funny how we can notice so many things when we are bored.

Unknown said...

Man oh man. Emo kid fringe on science boys. I don't even know if I can picture that.

The tag on this entry should win some kind of award.

I think just in general science presentation DAYS should be outlawed ... and I agree with Evelyne, at least it wasn't Comic Sans.

Allison said...

I love the observation about the Arial font. I thought I was the only one who noticed stuff like that...glad I'm not the only one ;)

John Mutford said...

If memory serves me, I think a couple of my friends are actually working on that spinal cord/ nerve regeneration thingy (remember the ones who were trying to win a wedding at the Stampede?). Since Facebook, I've come to realize that I know way too many people working/studying at the U of C for someone who hails from Newfoundland. I can think of 4 off the top of my head.

JustRun said...

Wow, so many words I do not know.

Deb said...

Barb, you never fail in the morning chuckle department. I love the details you picked up on...all the important stuff for sure. And the fact that your mind included lunch in the processing of've won my heart right there.

You are a genius as far as I'm concerned.

BeckEye said...

Medical robots? So, in the future I could have a robot gynecologist? That would be much less awkward. But the hands would be much colder.

Will said...

"Today I managed to sit through five hours of scientific presentations without retaining a single iota of information" ... you suffer from that, too, eh?

Seems like the knowledge you did pick up was far more important than what you didn't. Who cares about science anyway. Is Jarvis Cocker a scientist? Not knocking scientists though - they're rad.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Well I guess I remembered the sexy stuff, Just A. Yeah, bots aren't just for Jetson's cartoons anymore!

Evelyne, this conference wasn't too bad, as there were lots of presenters so each session was pretty short. Those five minute long names always kill me, but it's the short ones which I should know but don't which are the most embarassing.

I think that emo fringe kid must have stumbled into the wrong conference, Ruhee. Although what he could possibly have been seeking on the health sciences campus is beyond me.
There sure is a lot of comic sans hating going on here!

I see you've spent your share of time bored out of your gourd during presentations too, Al. I wonder what font they favour in Britain?

I remember those friends of yours, John. I'll bet they were there yesterday. Was he wearing a striped button-down shirt by any chance?

The sad part is, I don't really know them either, Justrun. One of these days they are going to discover I am a fraud.

haha Deb, millions would disagree with you on that genius comment - in particular, people that I work with. But yes indeed, lunch is a very important factor in conferencing. I was annoyed however, when I got home and took off my name tag to find two free drink tickets in the back for the wine and cheese I didn't attend. Damn!

These med bots are still driven by humans, Beckeye, plus the whole procedure would be up on a computer screen. That would be just a little too creepy for me.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

But surely everything that you do at work is fascinating beyond belief, Will? Please don't tell me that life ourside of science is no less boring.
Have you had any Jarvis sightings in your area yet?

Anonymous said...

whats an emo fringe?

Will said...

No Jarvis sightings ... hopefully I would not doubt my eyes then. My friend Jamie did see Jarvis when she was in the UK and in a postcard she said "We saw Jarvis Cocer (Pulp)" and I thought "I know who Jarvis is!"

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Kelly, this guy is wearing an emo fringe.

Sheesh, did she think you lived under a rock or something? Everybody knows Jarvis, don't they?
You will tell me if you bump into him buying mangoes at the Safeway, won't you?

Dale said...

I would like to apply for the position of your conference friend. I will even bring emery boards. I'm not sure what you mean by fringe but I'll try anything with the correct supervision.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

The job is yours, Dale! That would be loads of fun, although we'd likely get kicked out for giggling, which would be okay too, because by then our nails would look nice

(fringe = bangs)

Joe said...

Did they have swag at your conference?

By the way, when you started talking about magnetic resonance all I could think of was that move "From Beyond" and that enlarged pineal gland busting through the guy's forehead. Did they discuss that phenomenon?

Barbara Bruederlin said...

The only swag was a couple of drink tickets tucked into the back of the name tag, Bubs, which I didn't even discover until after I got home. Grrr!

Oddly enough, of all the 576,865 presentations on MRI that I am forced to sit through, never once has the exploding pineal gland been mentioned. I think it's a cover up.