Thursday, December 23, 2010

The people attending the convention of the American Geophysical Union are different than most convention-goers, in that they dress in different styles. Most conventions, the attenders share a style.

Neurosurgeons wear suits that are serious, dark, and expensive- looking. Educational researchers look rumpled in cotton. Which would imply that we as a society put some big money in fixing hurt brains but less money in figuring out how to teach well brains. But we knew that.

The American Geophysical Union people have three styles. Ready to attend the board meeting of a large corporation. Ready to go out for casual Saturday morning coffee. And ready to go rock climbing, right now.

I guess if you were going to a big meeting that you knew had some rock climbers and you wanted to connect with them, that would be a good way, and as direct and concrete as rock climbing itself.

It's a real neighborhood event, the AGU conference, where they have papers on what's up with the oceans on this planet and what up with buried frozens oceans on moons of Jupiter. This year they had papers on the problems made by the Iceland volcano eruption which halted air traffic and which humans didn't cause and the problems made by the BP oil platform explosion, which humans caused.

The convention seemed to be filled with people, you could tell by looking at the list of papers and posters to be presented, who know all the time that we are walking between the lithosphere and atmosphere. So for a break from thinking a wording, some of them climb the lithosphere higher into the atmosphere.

The AGU people, suited and casual, would seem to be likely to know everything that isn't human is much bigger than humans but we can still mess up some of it massively, while studying humbly parts we can't mess with, like frozen underground oceans on distant moon.