After a long hiatus from blogging, Beaker has returned to report on his expedition to Tasmania, the Island state, which would be hosting IC07 (a meeting of inorganic chemists in Australia). Here is a map for ppl not familiar with Australia:
Beaker conducted this journey with certain other chemists from the University of Sydney - as if seeing these nerds every week at uni wasn't bad enough, spending every waking hour around them was more than sufficient to drive him nuts. What was cool, however, was walking around in world heritage areas (which, along with reserves and National Parks account for 36% of Tassie) all day. In particular, our day in Cradle Mountain during which the weather was awesomely fine (this apparently only happens once every ten days), was pretty sweet. Apart from being overly sunburnt, Beaker enjoyed it - here are some pics:
We would then journey to the west coast of Tassie, namely to a small (~1000ppl) ex-shipping and convict town called Strahan. The easy-going and laconic nature of this place went down as brilliantly as the local beer - we felt the best way to see this place was on a relaxing cruise around the harbour.
What was less relaxing was being in a car with a certain Irish postdoc who, despite his strong stance on lab safety, felt no need to drive in anything other than a suicidal manner. Of course, he turned out to be an awesome quadbiker!
Our last port of call would be sunny Hobart, the location of the inorganic chemistry conference. Hobart has many features that distinguish it from more civillised cities. It appears that the local children have not heard of the concept of attending school. Either that, or school there only really takes up a small fraction of their time, the rest of which may be spent playing with their pet tasmanian tigers, frequenting Legs 'n' Breasts (the local chicken shop) or having a few Cascade Lagers. The scarcity of public transport was also disappointing, with no trains and very few buses/taxis. Having said that, we could walk from our motel to the convention centre, pictured below.
While I probably didn't learn as much stuff or meet as many new people as I had at previous conferences, I still enjoyed myself. The talks I attended (which may or may not represent a small fraction of those I should have attended) were pretty good. The plenary lectures given by Schrock and van Koten turned out to be pretty interesting, as I had expected. The former presented work on the catalytic reduction of dinitrogen (most ppl would have read of this, it's been out for a few years: Science 2003, 301, 76) which may see him get a second Nobel prize if a practical version of his Molybdenum-containing system is developed...
...Anyway, so I'm back in Sydney, in my 3rd year of a PhD...
my work certainly won't lead to any Nobel prizes, I really just want to get done and move on. It's that feeling I always get after conferences - possessing new ideas and a renewed urgency to develop them.
Keep it real, be yourself and stay positive :)