The 2012 AAAS annual meetingended three days ago, which means I am still recovering from all the wonderful science talks and press conferences. I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to attend the meeting this year. This weekend truly was just as enriching as I had hoped it would be.
Unfortunately, I have been very busy with the less-than-glamorous schoolwork undergrads must perform during reading week, so I have been unable to write about some of the things I learned over the weekend. Rest assured, I will be making a full report in next week’s issue of The Ontarion and I will gladly post the article here as well. Until then, here are my favorite quotes of the 2012 AAAS annual meeting:
1. On CERN’s efforts to find the Higgs boson, which would support the standard model:
“I would be more excited if we didn’t find it.” – Sergio Bertolucci, Director of CERN
2. On the Alberta tar sands:
“The ecological damage is way out of proportion…It’s painful.” – Nina Fedoroff, President of AAAS.
3. On a drug-dispensing microchip that, when inserted under the skin, releases minute amounts of drugs in a controlled fashion, thus avoiding the pain of daily injections and the stress of having to remember to take a dose.
“This is one of the most significant breakthroughs in decades. This is the dawn of telemedicine.” - Robert Langer, chemical and biomedical engineering professor at MIT.
“What you need is a gateway drug to make people believe that all their [meat] cravings can be satisfied by plants.” - Dr. patrick Brown, Stanford biochemistry professor
5. On the relationship between journalists, scientists and government in a talk on the censorship of scientists and their findings:
“Press officers shouldn’t be gatekeepers.”- Francesca T. Grifo, Union of Concerned Scientists
6. On why we shouldn’t attempt to extend the brain’s plasticity to lifelong levels:
“Nature has provided these mechanisms for a reason. There seems to be a need to stabilize the circuits.” - Takao Hensch, Harvard University professor
7. On funding research and development:
“In business, we celebrate the risk-takers. We need to do the same in science.” – Mike Lazaridis, founder of RIM and the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics
8. On wishing to be invisible:
“If light goes through you, you can’t see, so there goes the reason most people want to be invisible.” – Lawrence M. Krauss, author of The Physics of Star Trek
That last quote crushed the last of my remaining childhood invisibility dreams, but as my grandmother would have said: “J’vais me coucher moins niaiseuse à soir!“, which loosely translates to “I’ll be less of an imbecile as I go to bed tonight!”. If I could go to bed feeling that way every night, I would be a happy camper.