NCUR 2009 kicked off today and I’ve already had a good time. I didn’t get up early enough to be at the start of things, but I did wake up in time to go get breakfast. After some banana bread and coffee I headed to the hall where all the posters were on display. My main intention there was to give my friend some support. His poster was on building solar power into small vehicles like golf carts and he tells me he got a fair amount on attention. I looked around the rest, but I didn’t really find anything that was of particular interest to me. However I did spend some time talking to a girl who had done work on exploring the possible application of Hamiltonians Systems that obeyed conservation laws and had symmetry. Her preliminary research was interesting but what I thought was more interesting was that she planned on applying her ideas to design of airplanes and jet engines and I hope that her work yields some interesting new technologies.
The main attraction of the day was paleontologist Jack Horner who might just be the most famous dinosaur hunter in the world. His talk was really interesting and he talked about everything from how he got interested in dinosaurs and never really got a formal college education. He also talked about dinosaurs in general, Jurassic Park and new genetic technologies that are being used to explore the relationship between dinosaurs and birds. What I really liked is that he stressed that scientists should communicate their work and make it accessible to the general public. I very much believe in this and I try to do this in my own small way by writing this blog. There was a QA session at the end of it, which also brought up some interesting points, including T-rex vs spinosaurus, dino-chickens, velociraptor intelligence and a very short detour into creationism (to which Horner’s answer was “I’m glad my God doesn’t trick me”). I hope this was being recorded and gets put on YouTube soon.
I just finished lunch and I’m currently waiting for the robotics session to get started. I’ll have another update later.