Alternate, More-Interesting Post Title: Attack of the Vampire Physicists.
I realized today that the only time I have been outside during daylight hours on this trip to Atlanta was during the brief walk down the platform to the airport entrance. This is only a little unusual for a DAMOP– the Marriott Marquis is connected to a small mall by an enclosed walkway, so it was possible to leave the hotel and grab lunch in the food court without having to set foot outside. Other than that, I only left the hotel to go to dinner Tuesday and Wednesday, and that was on the late side, and hardly counts.
That’s one of the things about coming to this conference that’s a little hard to convey to other people. Non-physicists often make disappointed noises when I talk about the less-than-glamorous venues DAMOP has been held in, but despite the occasional joke, I really don’t mind that much if it’s not in a cool location, because all I’m really going to see during the meeting is a series of fairly anonymous conference rooms full of other physicists who also haven’t seen the sun in two days. I mean, if they held one in Hawaii, I’d probably try to spend an extra couple of days there before or after the meeting, but for a typical DAMOP, I spend all my time listening to other people talk about physics, and don’t get out much. Really, all I need in a DAMOP site is a fairly convenient airport.
Of course, this sort of marathon meeting-going takes a toll, and by the third day, I’m usually starting to run down a bit, so I took a few more breaks. In the morning, I went to the session on in-situ imaging, which was one of the ones I highlighted in my talk. This is really amazing stuff, some of which I’ve written up before, and there will be more posts in this area in the future, believe me.The talk by Chen-Lung Hung from chin Lee’s group at Chicago was awfully similar to the talk Lee gave in the prize session, which would’ve been more disappointing if Lee’s talk had been more clearly audible. As it was, it cleared up a bunch of things that I couldn’t quite hear the first time.
In the second morning block, I took a bit of a break to deal with some administrative annoyances, but stopped in to the ultracold molecules session to hear about Dave DeMille’s recent results on laser cooling of a polar molecule, which was very good. This is an interesting development, because it’s long been assumed that the vast array of vibrational and rotational states would make this prohibitively difficult, but it looks like they’ve got that stuff under control now.
In the afternoon, I wandered around a bit, but made it a point to catch the talk by Henry Kapteyn, who is a name to conjure with in high harmonic generation, and as always reported steady progress in coherent tabletop x-ray sources, a kind of incredible string of words when you think about it. Another can’t-miss speaker was Jeff Kimble in the cavity opto-mechanics session, where he gave a very amusing explanation of how his current research project derives from his petulant refusal to deal with a dilution refrigerator (this is, of course, somewhat overstated for humorous effect).
After that was the poster session, where I checked in on the latest from a few people I know, and then the reception and banquet, at which I unexpectedly had to go up to the podium to introduce the student speakers from the undergraduate session (the actual chair of the education committee had apparently left, and I was the first committee member Chris managed to track down). And then another trip to a local brewpub to demonstrate that Ph.D. physicists tend to be really, really bad at actually playing pool, though we could all probably model it mathematically.