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EGU wrap up

20 April 2008 · 3 Comments

A good meeting. Much better than last year’s. Maybe because Ryan wasn’t there. Probably not, but there is a good correlation there. I was busy at my poster presentation. Julia, Torsten, and Sebastian all gave good talks. Julia was busy at Moritz’s poster as well. I think the SPARCs managed to represent themselves pretty well.

Julia & Skip Walker (from Fairbanks) at Moritz’s poster.

Each week in Potsdam, our group gets together to read and review a journal paper on a topic that is related to our work. We get 15 minutes to read the paper then we spend about 45 minutes talking about it, deciding if it was good or bad and why. A while ago, we reviewed a paper and decided it was quite bad for a number of reasons. I happened to be in a session where this author basically presented the same paper. The ‘live’ version of the paper is much worse than the paper version. I kept waiting for Sebastian to stand up and say ‘this is complete bullshit.’ He would have said it in the weekly review meeting (and probably did), but not such luck here. I think I would have paid him 5 EUR if he would have said something. That is a lot more than I was going to pay him for proof of sleeping with a reindeer last summer on Svalbard.

I also some some really good talks and sessions. One session opened my eyes to myself. It was a session on the interaction between research and applied engineering (in hydrology context). In the session there was a lot of discussion of what an engineer is and and what a scientist is. I have always considered myself a hydrologist even though my degree says engineering, mostly because I do not like the stereotypes/perceptions of engineers. Here are my notes from the session…. A scientist tries to understand a problem without solving it. An engineer tries to solve problems without complete understanding. Science is about knowledge, doing something interesting, seeking truth, seeing the risk, no deadlines, and waiting for certainty (confidence levels) whereas an engineer is about action, giving good advice, seeing opportunities, having deadlines, and as having to make decisions under uncertainty (fudge factors). I realized that I think so much more like an engineer than a scientist it is not really funny. Maybe it is time to embrace the stereotype. One speaker managed to crack himself up (giggling uncontrolably) when discribing ‘poop freeze’ — his method of discarding different theories/ideas about a problem he was working on. It was pretty funny.

Other highlights.. Sebastian and I spent an afternoon wandering around Vienna city center. It feels so much more like a European city than Berlin to me. We had some really really good pizza for lunch. We were invited (by TU Wein group) to a Heurigen (wine tavern) on Wednesday night for food and drink. We were the last people there but managed to get a great seat next to the food. It was a fun and late night. Too much wine though…. Hard to keep interest (and wake up) on Thursday. I was so tired on Thursday that only managed to watch MacGyver (in German) that evening — sort of, I fell asleep during the not so exciting hour. I also spent a fair amount of time with Ted. It was really good to see and talk to him about many different things. I also ran into David Newman and Skip Walker (both from UAF). I also talked with Jed Brown (from FBKS and friend of Seth Adams) for a while about his research. He thinks on a completely different plane of reality than I do. He is doing some really interesting work. It was nice to see so many familiar faces.

Off to Bucharest tomorrow morning. I am pretty excited about going on holiday.

Funny picture.Breakfast in the apartment.Just rudeWorst meeting room ever?

Tags: AWI · blog · Travel

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Hil // Apr 21, 2008 at 20:23

    Hey Bob,

    Sounds like a great meeting. For my thesis I did not solve a problem that I did not have complete understanding of. What does that make me? Oh yeah, a mom.

    Hope to see your grumpy face again soon.


  • 2 Paul Overduin // Apr 26, 2008 at 17:48

    what could constitute proof of having slept with a reindeer?

  • 3 Bob // Apr 28, 2008 at 6:45

    A picture. I know it would have been difficult, but that was the challenge.