Monday, February 11, 2008

A Visit to the Royal Astronomical Society

Image Source: Royal Astronomical Society

Yesterday I returned from London, where I had been attending a conference hosted by the Royal Astronomical Society in London. Aside from the inevitable jet lag, it was a very enjoyable trip. I even experienced some nice weather, with sunshine and warm weather every day, which is especially surprising in early February. I expected cold and drizzle.

The headquarters of the Royal Astronomical Society is located on Piccadilly, within walking distance of Buckingham Palace and the famous Piccadilly Circus. They share a building with several other societies: the Royal Acadamy of Arts, the Linnean Society of London, the Society of Antiquaries, the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Geological Society of London. In other words, it's a pretty academic area.

After my meeting, I attended a general, joint meeting of the Royal Astronomical Society and the Geological Society. At the meeting, the Geological Society gave a summary of their concurrent meeting on the "Geophysics of Climate Change." There didn't seem to be any shocking results from this new meeting -- the Earth is definitely warming, and while the Earth has been warmer in the past (say, 50 million years ago), humans may soon find themselves on a planet warmer than our species has ever experienced.

After that sobering assessment, I heard a brief talk by a former colleague who now works at the University of Heidelberg. And, lastly, I heard an address by the president of the Royal Astronomical Society, Michael Rowan-Robinson, who talked about his involvement over the years of measuring how fast the Universe is expanding, and his thoughts on modern cosmology.

All in all, it was a great, though short, visit to London. Tomorrow, I'll talk about the science of the meeting I attended!

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