Monday, 7 April 2014

IoP Nuclear Conf Day 1

So, today was the first day of the IoP Nuclear Physics Conference, which I am chairing, in Croydon.  It's also my daughter Alba's first ever physics conference, and I do think she was rather the star of the show.  Though only present in breaks, she was certainly the centre of attention at those times.  Still;  There was some nuclear physics going on too.

The day started with the STFC Town Meeting.  Lots of STFC people came along, including Chief Exec John Womersley, which was a gratifying indication of the extent to which STFC support Nuclear Physics (we can sometimes feel a bit unloved, you see).  This dealt with matters of funding, the politics and the practice, and was interesting enough, though I was more or less already up to speed with what was being talked about - all except the Newton Fund, which might provide some useful streams of funding for probably more trips to India (which will suit me just fine).

After lunch I had the welcome talk to give that I mentioned in the last post.  I managed to string that out to 20 minutes or so.  The most entertaining bit, I think, was when I produced a prodigious list of past locations of the IoP conference.  It was all thanks to an e-mail from John Smith of the University of the West of Scotland from around a year ago when we were looking where the next conference should be.  His memory on the matter was particularly impressive, and he came up with the following list:

2013 York
2012 Brighton
2011 Glasgow
2010 Edinburgh
2009 Birmingham
2008 Liverpool
2007 Surrey
2006 York
2005 Manchester
2004 Edinburgh
2003 Glasgow
2002 Brighton (with particle physics)
2001 Bergen (Norway)
2000 Birmingham
1999 Salford
1998 Liverpool
1997 York
1996 Amsterdam
1995 Telford (with particle physics)
1994 Brighton (IOP Congress)
1993 Glasgow
1992 Edinburgh?
1991 York?
1990 Strasbourg?

Can anyone in the nuclear physics community do any better than that?  Extend the list back?  The first one I went to was the 2001 Bergen conference.  This lives on in my memory for the conference dinner.  Though the IoP conference is usually a national affair, every now and then it branched out to slightly wider regions.  The Bergen conference was a "North West Europe" Nuclear Physics conference, featuring only countries in the NW of Europe and with smallish nuclear physics communities - so excluding France and Germany.  The UK then had one of, if not the, largest delegations.  That being the case, there were a few troublesome vegetarian attendees who requested a veggie option for the conference dinner.  We were assured that this would be okay.  Come conference dinner time, the host gave a speech, and the introduced the food.  "Now, for dinner, we have Hungarian Goulash.  With rice.  Vegetarians - make sure you get in quickly to get lots of rice."  He wasn't joking.

Ironically, tonight, the vegetarian option was butternut squash risotto (which every vegetarian knows is the thing that places who don't do vegetarian food think vegetarians like).  Only, they ran out after about half the diners had gone to the buffet.  They replaced it with ... a large dish of rice.

So - anyway, after my intro talk, we had Kara Lynch, Adelle Hay, Victoria Truesdale, Rosa Romita and Elizabeth Cunningham talking about laser spectroscopy, nuclear data, fission fragment spectroscopy, quark-gluon plasma and outreach.  My introductory talk made sure the gender bias was not too extreme.