This post will be untranslated. Because...see title.
There are days I do love science, days I do not love science. Then, there are days I do love and I do hate science.
It happens at conferences, usually.
Conferences are those small worlds where researchers interact, ideas are spread, opinions are weighed. The last in temporal order of such events was just last week, here in the neighboring city of Yokohama. Sunday to Wednesday most of the people in my lab were engaged in conversations, lost in validations, relieved in recreations.
The venue, to my surprise, was not a convention center, or a hotel with conference facilities, but one of the most beautiful historical building the city owns: The Yokohama Port Opening Memorial Hall. The building is from one century ago, made of real bricks outside and wood inside. Stair steps squeak, doors creak, and ceilings are very high. I've always wanted to find an excuse to go inside it, even more to climb the narrow winding staircase that leads to the building's clock tower (unaccessible pretty much always)…thanks to the conference I had the excuse to be there, walk around, observe. No luck with the tower, alas. I also liked the big stained glass window on the second floor, and the huge glass window on one side decorated with circular and radial patterns which in a way reminded of a clock.
The place where all the action took place was the auditorium, a nice large room with a stage, seating space on the main floor and on the sides and the back on the second level…I guess they once used it for performances.
Just a beautiful building, which I hope will be standing for many more centuries to come.
Curiosity: the clock tower of this building is nicknamed Jack. Not too far form Jack, one can also observe the King and Queen towers (standing tall on their respective buildings). Obviously named after the poker cards. There are spots around Yokohama bay area where one can see all three towers at the same time, and when that happens it is said to bring good luck.
But that's not all.
Indeed, the closing dinner, on the last day of the conference, was held at another one of those places I've always wanted to go but never found a chance: a spa complex in the heart of Yokohama Bay. Yes, there was a dinner party room with Japanese bamboo mat as the floor, low tables and leg-less chairs, where we were served a super delicious dinner. And a duo of shamisen (Japanese traditional guitar) players entertained us with a fun show. Because we were already in the spa premises, we also had free entrance to the baths…you know those the Japanese are so fond of, where one has to first undress, then wash and then soak. I consider the spa my personal highlight of the conference. After a rejuvenating dip in the hot water (in the outdoor pool, with, heh, the other female conference attendees), I clothed up and went to the roof where there was a foot spa just waiting for people to keep their feet warm while overlooking the bay.
Now, back to the conference, one would assume only boring people attend conferences. Can't be more far from the truth.
This is the "I do love science" part.
A lot of researchers flew to Japan for this conference, among those many of the people I have met over the years and who have been an important part of my life in this country. In other words, I could catch up with many friends. Most of them are young and smart, and, believe it or not, very sociable, boom! The evenings are usually very alcoholic, there is a lot of fun involved and the more we go into the final day of the conference, the more wasted we all are (jet-lags, late nights, one drink too many, long days, general tiredness). But we're still all happy and surprisingly productive.
Yes, I do love science because it is made by all those bright people that are brought together by a conference from all corners of the world, and I do know them and I hang out with them.
This time, one entire day was dedicated to hear research from PhD students. All of them very smart, perfectly in control of their stage freight, seemingly comfortable in convincing everyone about their good work. And then I see myself, not fitting at all.
This is the "I do hate science" part.
I mean, I was by far the oldest among PhDs, and had no clue about almost anything. When I see how I compare to the many other motivated and driven future researches, I can only ask myself what I am doing here. Even worse when I see the accomplished scientists, those who have been wolfing the road for several years and hold the secrets to the world's knowledge..in that case I simply think I am too old and not smart enough.
Yes I do hate science, because that is easier than to complain about my scientific non-skills, especially when I am before other researchers who, instead, have all that's needed to succeed in the field. I mean, they are also nice and fun people, do I have to repeat it?
There is solace only in chocolate, for these conference blues. At least I could make a science-y joke in here.