I spent the last few days in Ontario, attending the Convergence meeting at the Perimeter Institute. This brought a bunch of Perimeter alumni and other big names together for a series of talks and discussions about the current state and future course of physics.
My role at this was basically to impersonate a journalist, and I had a MEDIA credential to prove it. I did a series of posts at Forbes about different aspects of the meeting:
-- The Laser Cavity was Flooded: a revisiting of the idea of True Lab Stories, which was a loose series of funny disaster tales from the early days of ScienceBlogs.
-- Converging on the Structure of Physics: Talks from the first day fitting a loose theme of looking for underlying structure.
-- All Known Physics in One Meeting: The second day of talk covered an impressive range, from subatomic particles to cosmological distances.
-- Making Lampposts to Look for New Physics: Tying the closing panel discussion to an earlier metaphor about searching "where the light is" for exotic phenomena.
As I said, I'll have some more follow-up next week, picking up and running with a few asides or themes that came up at the meeting. For the moment, though, I'm pretty wiped out, having put in almost 780 miles of driving over the last four days, and staying up late hanging out with science writers and theoretical physicists. So this summary post will have to hold you...
True Lab Stories are the equivalent of "hangar flying" among aviators, or sea stories among sailors.
World Science Fiction Conventions often schedule a panel that's a variant of this, with titles like "Tall Technical Tales" or "Tales from the Tech Shop." Quite popular with the attendees.
First time I saw Turok with the "all known physics" equation, I complained that the sqrt(-g) was missing. Now the whole volume element is gone!
True Lab Stories are the equivalent of “hangar flying” among aviators, or sea stories among sailors.
Except that AFAICT physics does not have a tradition of sending the n00b out to get a bucket of prop wash, or fifty feet of shore line, or something comparable.
That's not quite true-- I know of a couple of groups that had a tradition of sending new students to the other group to ask for the BNC-to-Swagelok adapter.
(BNC is an electrical fitting, Swagelok a plumbing fitting, for those not in experimental physics.)