A Glimpse Into Every Scientific Conference Ever.
The cacophony was raucous throughout the room. Like any other scientific conference there was a huddled mass around the coffee table. Academia loves nothing more than free food. Being that this was a smaller conference the quality was higher than the usual stale donut. Casual greetings were mostly cordial. The room was composed of an almost 50/50 split of the meticulously manicured and fashionably disheveled.
Scattered amongst this distribution were the outliers. There is always the inevitable representative of the host. This is a role usually fulfilled by someone not quite at the top. They typically speak at the beginning of the conference, thanking everyone for making the hours long drive and apologizing for the Dean/President/Monolithic-Figure not being able to attend.
Who knows if the Dean/Host even exists at this point?
The uninitiated wait in the corner. These people have never given a presentation before. You can always tell these people from the rest because they're over-dressed and sweating profusely. They're visibly shaking and withdrawn. This is the pinnacle of their achievement so far. They still hold science sacred.
Everyone takes a seat as the conference begins. Time is tight as we have a lot to listen to today. Some orators speak at speeds likened to that of a backwoods auctioneer rattling off indiscernible syllables like machine-gun fire. Some people at this point pull out their notebooks and appear to take notes. I always assume these people are just doodling because let's be honest, no one really knows what anyone else is really talking about. We're all just waiting for our turn to say really smart sounding things that may only be relevant to two people in attendance.
Around lunch time you are drawn out of a near catatonic slumber by the burning desire for more free food. The cordial demeanor of the room shifts. Lunch is around the time that everyone begins to tell each other the harrowing tales of not having enough money or equipment. Even if you can convince your institution to purchase your equipment you have to maintain a business plan to keep up with the service contract for equipment. An expensive machine may cost $25k a year in service contracts if you do it cheaply. In this period it is discussed on how to save pennies on consumable items, because you have to save money somewhere.
The speaking commences once again. Usually at the end of a presentation the room is opened for questions. At this point everyone is blatantly drifting in outer-space. The period for questions is dead silent. Graphs are exhausting. The speaker will not receive the validation they seek after innumerable hours of work. Sorry bro, I just got an Instagram notification and we need to figure out which bar we're all going to attend after the conference.
The closing once again gets loud. People are exchanging cards/email/phone numbers. It's the equivalent of the adult adage of "we should hang out more." Everyone knows this is an impossibility because due to the lack of funding we're all going to be writing 50k word grant proposals everyday in perpetuity. In a ritualistic since everyone must tip their hat to the sweaty new people. They are congratulated for their success. There must be sacrifice at the alter of progress. Misery loves company.