European Geosciences Union General Assembly 2011 -- impressions

European Geosciences Union General Assembly 2011 -- impressions

Picarro booth at EGU 2011 in Vienna

Several of us from Picarro spent a week in Vienna talking to scientists from all around the world. For those of us "manning the booth," conferences like EGU and AGU are both exciting and exhausting -- getting the instruments shipped, setting up the demonstrations, daily on our feet, engaged in conversations. You can see in the thumbnail picture here that it was busy -- it was like that all day, every day of the meeting. One customer said, "wow, your booth was so busy I thought you guys were giving out beer!" Lots of talking, no time for sitting… over the years, we have learned where to buy really comfortable shoes…

In our booth, we were running live analyses of carbon isotopes of people's hair, of sugar from the cafeteria, and on another analyzer, water isotopes extracted from samples like leaves. I think we even tried analyzing water isotopes of saliva on filter paper. It turned out to be pretty cool, but making it all happen is a lot of logistics.  We had to not only arrange for the gas cylinders to arrive at the conference center to run the live demonstrations, but we also had to get permission from the fire marshal to have them.

What is striking to me is that these scientists we meet at such conferences -- many of them our customers -- have vastly more interesting lives than we do! These people trek to locations one might only see on National Geographic taking measurements, doing science… and in the talks they give, the science is as interesting as the stories about getting there. I was talking to Sam Krevor of Sally Benson's lab about the trip they took with our analyzer attached to a donkey. He said that one time the donkey got away from them and started running -- they figured they might not see the analyzer again! (You can see pictures of this trip at: http://surfacemonitoring.blogspot.com/). Hearing some of these adventures makes the week of sore feet very much worthwhile!