Blogging about past events always reminds me of Stephen King's Langoliers, those little guys that clean up the left-behind past, making room for the future. But while the memories were still fresh, I wanted to mention a few high points of the RHIC/AGS Users' Meeting we had last week.
First and foremost, it's not a real meeting without merchandise. This year, the organizers made a funny riff on the "near-perfect fluid" announcement with a new RHIC mug. Serving up the perfect fluid, 24/7, up to 31 weeks a year!
We also had a talk from Tom Schlagel about the wave of the future in lab security, as specified by the now-famous "HSPD-12". This is the directive from the Administration being propagated to all federal agencies, including the Department of Energy and thus to all the DOE labs to rationalize the ID system, with fingerprints, and background checks...and no additional funding to the labs to implement it. You can tell I'm a big fan of this plan, especially if it's rolled out with no sensitivity to the varying security needs of the various institutions. But if they introduce mug-shots instead of the usual ID photo, then I'm all for it! This is clearly an alarming trend in the national labs, but I am heartened to see that the lab management is taking its implications very seriously and is looking out for the best interests of both lab employees as well as foreign visitors and remote users, all of whom are crucial components in the lab's reaseach.
We also saw the awarding of various prizes for student theses and posters, several of which were won by some students who graduated from PHOBOS. Go Abby and Carla! Here is a shot of Abby receiving her Best Thesis award from BNL Lab Director Chaudhari (who didn't seem to recognize me as I rushed to the front...guess he's not reading my blog). Let's hear it for the little experiments -- who will certainly be missed next year.
We also had a nice 2nd day of plenary sessions, incorporating summaries of the various workshops. It was held in the Physics auditorium rather than the much larger BNL auditorium, and so didn't feel nearly as much like a special occasion. This may have led to it being a bit more sparsely attended than Day 1, but it was still engaging (despite a clear drop in the energy level of most attendees, including yours truly).
But I cannot finish this post without a nod to the real engines of the Meeting, the staff of the RHIC/AGS Users' Office who made most of these events happen as if by magic. We'd say "Let there be a Workshop in Building 490" and, Lo, There was a Workshop, with coffee and donuts, and printed agendas (fully up-to-date, daily), and laser pointers...and no hassle for the individual workshop organizers. Anyway, here's a shot of Mercy and Kelly, with Angela's hand in the background (which was all she'd authorize of this photo ;-)) Thanks again, Susan, Angela, Mercy, Kelly - This could never have worked without all of you.