I find it my duty to help our group leader fight homesickness and remind him of his children by occasionally spilling my drink, asking questions like “Are we there yet?” or pointing out the police car that was parked in front of the convention centre last night. The two officers sitting inside were glued to their smartphones, presumably watching the Super Bowl. We were on our way back to the hotel from the Triumph Brewing company, were we’d had dinner and tried to understand how time flows during a football game (does the impact of a collision somehow bend space-time and turn 30 seconds into four?). I am kidding about acting like a kid of course, let the man have his science holiday and enjoy his beer and walk down the streets in peace, and get an uninterrupted night’s sleep.
Speaking of sleeping. I am one of life’s great sleepers. I routinely fall asleep during talks. But that hasn’t happened here. The presentations have been so engaging that they have managed to keep me alert. Also, I’m waking up much before my alarm is due to go off. It’s partly because of the time-difference, and partly because all the science, especially when presented and discussed late at night, is infiltrating my dreams. It’s like when you’ve been doing microscopy all day and then once in bed you close your eyes you see the fluorescent images. Or like the time I was ordering (expensive) SILAC (Single Isotope Labelling in Cell Culture) media for my experiments, and then in the evening I watched The Wire, and consequently dreamt I was dealing the media on the streets.
And speaking of The Wire. The show of course place in Baltimore and Baltimore took home the Super Bowl. The city hosted the Biophysical meeting two years ago. And the runner up, San Francisco, is up next year. I do look forward to packing a sun dress instead of mittens. But I have to say that despite the cold I really like Philadelphia. On Sunday, after morning talks, my friend Catherine and I enjoyed a champagne brunch on the Moshulu, a sailing ship docked at the harbour. It was awesome. Even in the dead of winter I’m drawn to water fronts and boats. And what could be better than looking out into the bay area, knowing it leads to the ocean, while drinking bubbly, eating chocolate covered strawberries and talking science. It did make me a bit sleepy though. So a nap was in order, before yet another mind-blowing imaging talk from Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz. And no wonder I then dreamt of a football pitch morphing into a plasma membrane.