Thursday, May 14, 2009

Nerds in Action

You might expect that when nerds do nerdly things, this would bring the nerd great joy and fulfillment, but alas, this is definitely not the case. Well now, I am clearly getting ahead of myself, so let me explain the situation a little more. One of the standard things that folks in my field (nuclear physics) do is go to conferences and workshops in all sorts of far-away locales. I have been all over the world, Austria, The Netherlands, Hawaii, Italy, Japan, Brazil. Even though I dislike traveling, I would admit that I have had some good meals and fun times on these different trips. However, the problem is the conferences and workshops themselves. Here physics types from universities and laboratories from the four corners all get together and sit through presentations of each other's work. The problem is that lots of professional scientists give really incomprehensible talks. There are many different sub-fields in nuclear physics, and we all don't speak the same language so to speak. So when folks give talks, they have an attitude that they are giving details to like experts. However, those of us in different subfields don't have a fat clue (™Rob Shepherd) what the heck they are blathering on about. The other problem is that scientists are typically nerds, and nerds are, oftentimes, uncomfortable coming out of their cubicles, and the audience and bright lights and laser pointers cause them to jitter and shake uncontrollably. The typical conference or workshop lasts anywhere from 3 to 5 days. However, after sitting through a day or two of talks that I am struggling to comprehend or struggling to not fall asleep in, I reach a condition known in the medical community as talkitis saturatus. It's like my brain has had enough and can take no more input. So, in case you were wondering, a nerd in a nerdly place does not necessarily lead to nerd euphoria.