12 November 2011

Neuroscience 2011, Day 1

After one half day of Neuroscience, my students were saying, “It feels like it should be really late,” when it wasn't even 7:00 pm.

You’re taking in so much more information in an afternoon of Neuroscience than in a regular day, it feels like the day is much longer than it is.

Before the talks started, I completed a long standing personal quest. One that had been running since grad school, to visit someone who is about the same age as I am. I’ll have a little video later, I think.

We made our way to the convention center. I have been here before, but I'm disoriented. Both of my students had a little trouble getting their badges, but this was soon resolved thanks to the excellent professionals behind the desk.

Security, however, seems a little short-tempered. They are very vocal about checking for badges and making sure nobody is taking pictures of the exhibit hall, even from a great distance.

First order of business was to have a tweet-up with @Katiesci. I'd given her a little help with her poster, so was anxious to see the final result.

I made my way back to the one neuroethology session, and while approaching, I heard applause. Applause at Neuroscience? This I had to see.

It turned out that I had just missed the singing of “Happy birthday” and blowing out the candles on Melissa Coleman's birthday cake. Melissa was on a very cool poster describing dueting in birds, which had just been published a couple of weeks ago in Science (a summary of it is here on Quirks and Quarks).

These little wrens sing duets. But unlike duets where one partner sings a phrase, then the other sings a phrase, or when both are harmonizing, in this species, the female and the male alternate note by note. If you here it, you can easily mistake it for one bird singing. The neurobiological punch line is that neurons of each sex responds most strongly not to their own song, or the song of their partner, but to the combined song that needs both birds.

It’s a project that almost deserved applause in its own right, but the applause was for the birthday girl. Melissa's lab was handing out cupcakes (I got one with a big heart shaped ring), everyone was having a good time...

When their epic win was converted to an epic fail in a split second.

I said, “Five second rule...” and salvaged a strawberry.

I was amazed, though, that a few minutes later, you wouldn't have known what a mess there was. I said, “If I ever commit murder and need the crime scene cleaned up, I know who to call.”

I was also thrilled to discover a fellow challenger of the #SciFund, Diane Kelly, co-author of the Force of Duck project, was attending Neuroscience! She will be presenting a poster on Monday afternoon (board VV13), which is not related to her #SciFund project.

After a great chat, Diane joined my students and I for dinner. First pizza place had an hour wait, but this turned out to be a blessing in disguise when we went a little further and discovered a pizza place with the wonderfully geeky name Pizza Pi.

Of course, I had mentioned to my students earlier that I was meeting with Diane, and had given them a preview of what the project was about. At the restaurant, my students wanted more information, so Diane showed them her #SciFind video on her swanky fancy iPad:

This was the first time she had seen people watching the video live (click to enlarge):

Diane said, "Now I can picture the expressions on people's faces when they're at home watching the video."

The people sitting in the table behind us may have gotten more than they bargained for, too. They gave us some priceless expressions, too.

Image at top from Sci.ple.

1 comment:

Katie Collette said...

Thanks for stopping by! It was great meeting you and my guess is that we'll bump into each other again.