An excellent Science Blogging 2008 adventure, Part I

My jetlag is in full swing as I’m writing this from my room at the lovely Walper Terrace Hotel in Kitchener/Waterloo, Ontario. The local time is 10pm, but my inner clock (still set to GMT) tells me it’s 3 in the morning, thus lending incredible appeal to the hotel bed behind me. But I’ve decided to grim up and write about the conferences and workshops I’ve been attending in the past week, because everything whizzes by so fast that the backlog of blogworthy events is just getting bigger and bigger.

So, to start off, I participated in the Science Blogging 2008 Conference that was held on the 30th of August at the Royal Institution in London. More on that later; the conference was preceded by a “London Science Tour” on the 29th of August, led by Matt Brown, Editor at Nature Networks, writer for The Londonist and genuinely nice guy. Matt took us (a group of science bloggers + me) on a day’s walk to a number of scientific points of interest, exhibitions at the Wellcome Collection and behind-the-scenes tours the Linnean Society of London, and the Darwin Centre at the Natural History Museum. I could sit here all night enthusing about the incredible wonders nature on display there, but I’ll just say that – if you get the chance – you should see it for yourself. Here are some of the pictures I took:

Wellcome Collection – Malaria info booth

Wellcome Collection – Creepy crawlies that spread diseases

Linnean Society – Butterfly specimens collected almost 240 years ago

Linnean Society – Coleoptera of 1772, pleased to meet you

Linnean Society – 17th century books on horticulture

Darwin Centre – 8.6m squid “Archie” (Architeuthis dux)

Darwin Centre – A “really big-headed fish in a tube” (excuse my ignorance)

Darwin Centre – A “really poor, cute beaked guy in a glass” (belonging to the Tachyglossidae family? Excuse my ignorance)

Darwin Centre – Snake specimens

During the walk, I got to know some very nice people such as Heather Etchevers, Yaroslav Nikolaev, Martin Fenner (who by now has posted an interview with me on his blog), and Mo Costandi, author of the brilliant Neurophilosophy blog.

The funniest moment came later that night at a pub in Soho. Mo had just introduced me to some guy named Vaughan, and we were standing there with a pint of beer, talking about this and that. Up to that point, I had only exchanged about two sentences with Vaughan, and instead had started telling Mo about how my favourite neuroscience/psychology blog was Mind Hacks and how great Mind Hacks was – and Mo pointed over to Vaughan and said: “That’s Vaughan’s blog!”.

So I got to know the author of Mind Hacks by accident, which was completely awesome. As it turned out the next day, someone else shared my feelings. Ben Goldacre, famous Guardian Science Blogger, told a similar story about meeting Vaughan at the pub that night (“No way, you’re the author of Mind Hacks?! I LOVE Mind Hacks!”) during his opening keynote speech at the conference.

Well, so much for my plan to write about Science Blogging 2008, the Southampton Open Science Workshop, which I attended subsequently, and the Science in the 21st Century Conference, where I am now, in one go. It’s already 4.32am on my inner clock now, and I can’t resist the bed any longer. I guess this will be a multi-part post…

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