The Sceptical Chymist | ACS: Like a virgin

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I have a confession to make – this is my first time. Even though I’ve been to conferences all over the world, somehow I’ve never made it to a national ACS meeting, until now. For the benefit of newbies everywhere, here are my first impressions.

This is certainly the largest conference that I’ve ever tackled, and the choice can be confusing. My pre-planning involved checking out the schedule online, but I didn’t cope very well with the ACS search engine, so I eventually just decided to wait until I had the printed version to browse through. Even then, it was difficult to know where to start. With hindsight, perhaps if I’d arrived in Chicago early enough to register yesterday, that would have give me more time to browse the technical program before things got under way.

Of course, choosing which lectures to attend is only part of it – finding the lecture theatre can be a task in itself. And if you have any plans to hop between sessions to cherry-pick lectures, think carefully – the lecture theatres can be distant from each other, so you might end up missing chunks of the talks.

Some of the lecture theatres are huge, which oddly enough was a problem sometimes. I saw some excellent talks today, with respectable attendances, but when the audience is scattered across a vast room it can seem as if there’s only a few people there. It’s only when you find yourself joining the throng trying to get lunch that you realize just how many people there are.

A conference this size must be a logistical nightmare to organize, and barring a few niggles (more restaurants perhaps? And a hotel room that actually had its own bed would have been good last night – don’t ask) it’ s been a great day. I can’t wait for tomorrow. How was it for you?


Andrew Mitchinson (Associate Editor, Nature)

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