When all is said and done (and since it is midnight and there’s nobody else here, I’ll take it that it has been and is) it was a good day at the West Hollywood Book Fair. I made it there in time to wander a bit and take in a number of the things on offer, just flitting from booth to booth and stopping to listen at various panels on various of the stages. I arrived early enough to check to see where my panel would be, double check that there were no schedule changes, and then set about to look around. Just before the panel I found a place doing a nice tasty hot sausage on a bun for lunch (plenty of fried onions and a sliver of mustard to top it all) and nibbled on that while listening to some poetry readings. (Or at least I think that is what they were.) (The picture shows the late afternoon sky with the giant chair sculpture at the Pacific Design Center across the street from the park the fair was in.)
Then I went to find my fellow panel members and we, uh, panelled away for an hour. Crucially, I found out what my panel was really about, which is good. The title “Eyeballing the Universe: Big and Small” was intended to invoke not just the act of studying the universe at diverse scales as a scientist or engineer (myself and the guest from JPL, DJ Byrne) but also the task of a writer and storyteller (KC Cole, the science writer and our moderator Daniel Birman, a documentary film maker) in communicating things about the universe and the results of the “eyeballing”. So that is what we discussed, touching on the physics of the universe (and a little bit of other science in it too!), the political and social issues of communicating science, education issues, the fun and joy of science, and what we each do for a living and what moves us to do it.
After the panel I watched KC Cole sign her book for readers and buyers for a few minutes, then wandered some more, focusing on some of the art and artists who were displaying some of their (book) collections of work. I then met some interesting authors I’ll maybe tell you about in a later post and took some snaps of interesting things here and there. (Yes, I ought to do another post at some point – or possibly update this one a bit. Check back.) I chatted with KC over coffee and dessert at a nearby French bakery for a while, and then headed off into the city.
I think a good time was had by all at the panel event, including the audience I think, some of whom asked good questions and all of whom seemed quite attentive. It was an honour to be invited to take part. I must remark, however that it is a bit of a shame that we were the only panel that directly concerned science or related issues (I mean no disrespect to the organizers at all here, nor anyone in paeticular), and a bit unfortunate that even so we were not hugely attended, but you do what you can, I suppose. It is too late at night to worry about it right now and besides, I’m supposed to give a colloquium tomorrow and I’ve only really outlined half of it so far and need to write several new exciting (I hope) slides. Right now…. sleep is the best thing to do.