Posts Tagged ‘Melbourne’

Conferences are not sleep-friendly

July 9, 2009

Despite the title, this is not going to be a grumpy post. I’ve been having a great time in Melbourne, but unfortunately I’ve had such a great time I haven’t taken any photos (not a single one) so you’ll just have to imagine the wonderful things I describe.

The conference I’m here in Melbourne for—the annual meeting of the Astronomical Society of Australia, or ASA—is the biggest event of the Australian Astronomer’s calendar. Many Astronomers from Universities all around Australia, and just about all the students, converge for five days of scientific talks, scientific posters, and somewhat scientific drinking (Drinking has a science, right? right??). I managed to come down with a cold on the first day so my week has included a bit less alcohol and a bit more sleep than I planned (and in comparison to most other students!) but I’ve still managed to do my share of networking. That seems to be mainly what conferences are about—the social stuff that goes on after the talks have finished for the day. (Before I left, my supervisor asked me somewhat sardonically whether I’d get any work done this week. But everyone here agrees that the drinking—sorry, ‘networking’—is just as important as the science. I think next time I’ll say, ‘you can’t spell networking without work!’)

I was a little disappointed with the selection of talks this year—too much cosmology and galaxy Astronomy and too little stellar Astronomy for my taste—but overall the quality of the science has been really good. This is heartening as Australia isn’t really one of the heavyweights in the International Astronomical community. But two of my friends and fellow students gave really good talks, and one of them even got a prize—very well-deserved. I gave a poster again this year (wasn’t successful in my application for a talk) and was lucky enough to be awarded the prize for best student poster! Which made my week.

Socially this week has been great, and it’s been wonderful to have the opportunity to discover a bit more of Melbourne. We’ve been to a fancy wine bar to learn the intricacies of wine-tasting and try some wonderful cheese. We walked to a quirky but fantastic Greek restaurant where we never saw a menu but ate the most amazing food. We’ve sneaked out of talks to go shopping in Fitzroy, the City, and Prahran, where I got some cute and unique jewellery. We’ve drunk cocktails with names like ‘Lawn bowls on a hot Melbourne day’ and ‘Things to do in Denver when you’re dead’. We’ve taken trams, buses, trains, and we’ve walked. Oh, we’ve walked. All our feet are sore, but the choice between catching the last tram or staying for one more drink is not really a choice at all. Not when you’re meeting new people, and having a proper chat with old friends in a new environment. It’s been lovely.

But, as I said, it hasn’t been sleep-friendly. To our credit, despite the late nights that were actually early mornings we’ve hardly missed any morning sessions. The ready availability of good coffee in Melbourne has helped with that. But I’m looking forward to the weekend, to staying with Libby’s parents, to cups of tea and early nights and time on the couch. And then discovering a different part of Melbourne, and hopefully shaking off this cold. And, of course, doing it all again next time.


July 6, 2009

Goodness I seem to be gallivanting off everywhere at the moment. Currently I’m in Melbourne, ostensibly for an Astronomy conference but mainly for the shopping, the food, and the socialising—sorry, ‘networking’—with other Astronomers. But more news on that later, I’ve been so busy with hardly any time to update here.

There is some FO news I’m saving up, but I’m waiting on photos at the moment. That’s right, be prepared for better-than-usual photos! Which is good as this is a particularly hard to photograph piece.