It has been a long day. Up since 3:45 am (yeah, it isn’t a typo). And that is in eastern time. So it has been close to 21 hours since I had a proper sleep (not counting the dozing off on the flight). However, I still didn’t arrive at the meeting until about 4:30. Just in time for registration, but too late for most of the excitements of the first day. Except, of course, the mixer. And the Cryo-EM subgroup session.
I was pretty much an outsider in the subgroup: Cryo-EM is not my area of expertise. Neither is any of the related techniques (I am a computational chemist!!!). This is one of the things I look forward to in BPS meetings: listening to (and talking to) people working in different areas.
A very intriguing talk was delivered by Dr. Tamir Gonen, who was speaking about 3D electron diffraction of microcrystals. His technique seeks to solve some of the problems faced by X-ray crystallography, namely, sample damage due to radiation and (hence) the requirement to get larger crystals. Getting “good quality” crystals is one of the biggest challenges for structure determination using X-ray. With electrons, there is very little damage caused to the sample by heating, which obviates the need for large crystals. In fact, Dr. Gonen talked about facing the reverse problem: having crystals that were too big!!! From the little that I know from my crystallographer friends, this is probably a good problem to have.
I would have loved to sit through the entire session, but guess what? I was running out of energy fast. It is probably time to call it a day and wait for a wonderful Sunday at the BPS!