This area will cover relevant news of the threat to the planet from Near Earth Objects (NEOs) including concepts and designs for mitigation. All opinions are those of the author.

27 March 2007

NIck Bailey's Poor Experience at the 2007 Planetary Defense Conference

The author of the research mentioned in a recent post here, Nick Bailey, has his own blog and photoblog. Here is an excerpt from his photoblog on the 2007 PD Conference. I do not agree with his observations about America in general but I find his comments on the reaction to newbie researchers in the field of planetary defense to be generally accurate. The small group of "planetary defense" experts at the 2007 Planetary Defense Conference definitely reminded me of high school. If you were not in the right "clique" [informal and restricted social group] then members of the audience had much less hesitation in confronting a presenter. I would encourage scientific debate but perhaps at the conference it was not evenly vigorous for all presenters.

08 March 2007
Last Minute Planetary Defence

So the conference today was a bit of an experience. Preferably one not to repeat again. Quite frankly it near enough put me off continuing in my field of research.

I arrived for breakfast with a pretty bad headache and the organiser asked if I'd be able to expand my poster presentation (2 minutes) up to a full 20 minute + 10 mins of questions job. Like I could refuse. Knowing it's all for the good of my research I agreed and then proceeded to spend the whole morning sessions writing an entirely new presentation. All the talks today were totally related to my work and I could really have done with giving it my full attention. Throughout this my headache didn't abate and rather got worse. In fact I know realise it was a migraine as I threw up in the toilet three times before lunch (one of which I didn't quite make it to the basin). Unlike a standard sickness this didn't make me feel any better so after finishing the slides (not having eaten any lunch) I found a sofa outside the conference room to take a nap in waking up just before I was due onstage.

By now I was feeling more stable and not sick but the head was nicely pounding. With a few prayers sent ahead I got onto the platform and begun, actually feeling quite clear while I was up there. I also felt I spoke reasonable clearly with only a few problems of not knowing what was on the slides (as I'd hardly seen them myself). Having not prepared anything I wasn't clear enough in introducing the actual results, so when I got to them I was immediately interrupted with a question from the floor. Then another. And I think there might have been a third. They pointed out that my results were void as the object I had simulated impacting should never have made it through the atmosphere (according to the research presented earlier in the day). This helped enormously as you can expect. But I think I answered their questions and continued onto the rest of the results and reached the end of the 20 minutes (surprisingly - I was expecting to fall short).

Then the questions started. Quite frankly I can't remember what was said but the first question was valid and all the others simply laid into me tearing my research to pieces. By the time I escaped the podium I was just about in tears and spent the next hour holding them back and hoping nobody would come and talk to me as that would have tipped me over the edge - especially if anyone had offered me any encouragement.

So that was all a bit shit and as I said it's totally destroyed any interest in me continuing in this research. I'd take a years postdoc if offered but only as a filler.

The ironic thing is that the final talk (and some other points made previously) highlighted how damn old the people in this field are and how they need to attract new people. The final presented said something to the effect that it's too insular and very hard for newbies to break through and present their work. I agreed and would quite definitely favour moving to the world of climate change as that is something I care far more deeply about.

So tomorrow I'll have to show my face again (though i might have a shave - I think this was one of my biggest mistakes, I should have shaved before to make myself look younger and less knowledgeable) and see if I can extract the wreckage of my research and dignity from the feasted remains. I'll also try hard not to get angry at one of the old gits who was quite horrid today.

Link: Nick Baileys' Blog

Link: Nick Baileys' PhotoBlog

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