Lots of good suggestions as to Portland activities for my trip to the March Meeting next week. There’s a second, related problem that I also need help with: What should I do at the meeting itself?

My usual conference is DAMOP, which I’ll be going to in May, so while DAMOP is a participating division, and offers some cool-sounding sessions, it seems a little silly to go to the March Meeting and go to DAMOP talks. The whole point of being at the gigantic meeting is to see different stuff than usual.

The problem is, the scientific program includes forty-odd parallel sessions in each time slot, most of those featuring a dozen or so 12-minute talks, which are generally incomprehensible if you’re outside the field. The invited talks are longer, and often better, but still variable. And there are so many of them…

So, here’s my question for readers who know stuff about non-AMO physics: What sessions should I be attending at the March Meeting? I’m interested in invited talks, ideally by people who are good speakers, that will be reasonably comprehensible to someone outside the field. There are a couple of things I’ve already identified, but the only block that is definitely out of the question is the Tuesday 11:15 block (J sessions), when I’m speaking.

If there’s something at the March Meeting that you think of as an absolute must-see, leave a comment and let me know.

Comments

  1. #1 Anna B
    March 11, 2010

    This is most utterly biased as it’s a bunch of my lab mates, including my BSc thesis advisor and one of my best friends, but their talk on the 3D imaging of granular flows ought to be fun. I think granular materials might be the only stuff we’ve been encountering a dozen times a day every day since before we started walking upright as a species that’s STILL not understood.

    Plus it comes with fancy videos and pretty colours and the math is understandable for people outside the field. What more can you want at 8 in the morning? :)

  2. #2 Erica
    March 11, 2010

    I recommend session H4, the Polymer Physics Prize session. The first speaker, at 8 a.m. Tuesday, is Michael Rubinstein, this year’s prize winner; he’s a good speaker and it looks like his talk will be very general and qualitative. The rest of the session is invited talks, and they look to be more technical, but it might give you a nice overview of what’s new in the polymer community.

    Another soft materials session that promises to be exciting is T17, Wednesday afternoon, although this is not an all-invited session. In particular, Ken Schweizer is giving an invited talk at 3:42; he’s an excellent presenter and will be talking about very interesting material.

  3. #3 Anna B
    March 11, 2010
  4. #4 Beatriz
    March 11, 2010

    You should go to my talk (session W10)!

    I would recommend session H7 (Optimization principles in biological physics), if you think you might me interested in that stuff. It’s only invited talks, and I know Bill Bialek is a good speaker.

  5. #5 Matt Leifer
    March 11, 2010

    There is usually quite a lot of good talks in the Quantum Information/Quantum Foundations track sponsored by the Topical Group in Quantum Information (TGI). Any one of their invited sessions, or the invited talks at the beginning of their regular sessions would be a good bet. Although there is obviously a lot of AMO physics in these sessions, there is also a lot of condensed matter implementations and some pure theory stuff as well. In particular, there is usually a very good invited talk at the beginning of the first Quantum Foundations session. The rest of the quantum foundations session is usually a bit of a mixed bag, with some good talks and some completely crazy ones. This is because of the APS rule that any member is allowed to contribute a talk and the tendency of the subject to attract cranks. In any case, it is usually entertaining at the very least.

    When I go to the March meeting I tend to also look out for prize talks (which is some indicator of quality), history of physics talks, and politically interesting events that are not on the official program but are advertised on the notice boards. Finally, I tend to go to at least one session that is way outside my area of expertise. Things to do with applications of physics ideas outside of physics are usually a good bet because the assumed knowledge is often lower than in other sessions. For example, I went to a very interesting session about using ideas from statistical physics to understand the dynamics of social networks a couple of years ago.

    Finally, the March meeting is a bit of a zoo and you can’t go to everything that is interesting, so don’t sweat missing stuff.

  6. #6 Matt Leifer
    March 11, 2010

    A quick followup. Having looked at the program for:

    Session X33 – Focus Session: Foundations of Quantum Theory

    more closely, I vouch for the quality and interest of the first four talks in the session, including the first two which are the invited talks, based on either knowing the speakers or having read the papers.

  7. #7 Chad Orzel
    March 11, 2010

    Sadly, I’m leaving Thursday morning, and won’t be there for session X33. The first speaker (Kiko Galvez) is actually (relatively) local, at Colgate. We’ve had him up here a couple of times to talk about that work, and I went down there to give a colloquium my first year at Union.

  8. #8 Patrick
    March 11, 2010

    Even though it’s a DAMOP session, you might want to check out A8: Quantum Opto-Mechanics. It’ll be different, since it’s about mechanical resonators, but familiar as well, since most of the experiments and terminology are borrowed directly from AMO.

  9. #9 Joseph
    March 11, 2010

    I dunno if you’re interested, but I generally hang out in the spins and charges in semiconductor nanostructures talks. I can say more once I’ve had a look, but I gots lots to do before I go.

  10. #10 Dave Bacon
    March 11, 2010

    Quantum Computer Science! http://meetings.aps.org/Meeting/MAR10/sessionindex2/?SessionEventID=127359 on Monday to get yourself up to date on quantum computing theory. I second the recommendation for the joint DAMOP/GQI session on quantum opto-mechanical systems…very close (or at) zero motional quanta! http://meetings.aps.org/Meeting/MAR10/SessionIndex2/?SessionEventID=124908

    I’m booked Tuesday and have the pontifical family in tow, but if your free to grab some Scienceblogs beer we should meet up.

  11. #11 thm
    March 12, 2010

    A few speakers that stood out to me:

    Q2.1, Sidney Nagel: Rigidity and Excitations in Jammed Solids. (I worked in his lab as an undergrad, so I’m a bit biased here.)

    Q3.3, Charles Falco: Imaging in the Infrared. I saw him give a talk a few March Meetings ago about his work with the artist David Hockney–this, I presume, is different, but he is quite a good speaker.

    X8.4: David Lee, Early Days of Superfluid 3He, an Experimenter’s View. Lee, co-winner of the Nobel Prize, is an entertaining and quirky speaker.

    Over the years, I’ve developed my own re-formatting of March Meeting program information, which I think makes figuring out how to spend my time easier:
    http://metcaffeination.net/weblog/2010/01/31/making-sense-of-the-march-meeting/

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