Trapped With Astronomers in a Hot, Airless Room!

by wjw on July 19, 2010

So I am back from Laramie, where I spent a week at LaunchPad, the workshop designed to cram as much astronomical knowledge into your skull as can possibly be accomplished without the use of a mallet.

I filled an entire legal pad with notes. I wonder if, a year from now, any of it will be decipherable.

I would have typed the notes into my laptop, except that my word processor doesn’t do equations, and is very clumsy with scientific notation.

Most of the workshop took place in a small, windowless, hot, airless classroom. It had to be windowless, because we screened videos and slides, but I wonder if it had to be without ventilation. As the day wore on, and the heat and CO2 increased, it became harder and harder to stay awake. We clearly needed time scheduled for siestas. Or fresh air. Or both.

But we also got to three observatories, and to view the stars from Mike Brotherton’s driveway (the seeing was surprisingly good), and otherwise hang out for a number of festive meals in local eateries. And it has to be said that this was a smart, cool bunch of people, including Mark J. Williams, Cecilia Tan, Carrie Vaughn, Bud Sparhawk, Ian Randal Strock, Rachel Swirsky, and a bunch more.

Plus, I learned a lot— which is not surprising, considering that my last college astronomy class was in 1972, and the whole field has changed a zillion times since then. And if I ever start writing space opera again, it’s going to be jam-packed with a lot of high-concept, intriguing celestial madness.

If, of course, the Big Rip doesn’t get us first.

Lance Larka July 19, 2010 at 11:37 pm

Keep writing Walter. I'm not going to worry about an event that might end my reading passtime of which I have absolutely no control over and can't possible influence…unless of course I find out that I'm God in Geek garb 🙂

ianrandalstrock July 20, 2010 at 5:20 pm

The atmosphere in the classroom was designed to approximate the interior of a star….

Dave Bishop July 20, 2010 at 5:35 pm

Oh, yes please! More Space Opera!

Dave Bishop July 20, 2010 at 5:35 pm

Oh, yes please! More Space Opera!

Dave Bishop July 20, 2010 at 5:37 pm

Sorry! That last comment was not supposed to be in stereo! I'm not sure what happened there …

Ralf the Dog July 20, 2010 at 8:05 pm

@ dave Bishop, using the distance between those to comments, I can use parallax to find out how far away you are. I do need special red and green glasses.

Cecilia Tan July 21, 2010 at 3:22 am

Oh, is that what it was? And here I thought it was just the caffeine from morning tea wearing off every afternoon.

P.S. I didn't know you were a black belt! I got mine in 1996.

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