At ANS annual meetings, the President’s Reception is the traditional kickoff event with lots of good food, freely flowing beverages and opportunities to meet and greet old friends and make new ones. There are not too many places where a guy can find conversations about supercritical CO2, liquid metal breeders, space nuclear reactors, modular power plants for desalination, and the challenges of finding quality child care in College Station all in one place. (Yep, though that last one might surprise the virulent anti-nukes. We have families as well as deep interests in an important technology.)
I ran into people I have known for more than a decade and was introduced to a number of new people with varied interests and reasons for attending the meeting. At one point, the nuclear blogging world achieved critical mass when Dan Yurman (Idaho Samizdat), John Wheeler (This Week in Nuclear) and I were in a tight formation reinforcing each others plans for covering the meeting without causing too much discontent among the traditionalists.
It is a bit difficult at times to help professional society leaders to understand that allowing more media coverage of meetings and events encourages people to get interested in being involved and perhaps even becoming members. Some of the more traditional thinkers are leery of losing control over the lines of communication or of supplying so much information to people who do not attend that they might decide they never need to attend since they can just get the information without the bother of travel.
Though I do spend a good deal of my time on line, there is no way to capture the value of meeting with colleagues face to face and seeing how they respond to ideas or how excited they get in talking about their particular field of research. You also cannot begin to imagine the value of knowing a bit about a person’s family, their outside interests and their near term future plans.
What I am trying to tell you is that I am really excited about being here and cannot wait for continued opportunities to listen, learn and plan. I am especially interested in attending the sessions associated with public communications and those discussing advances in small and medium sized reactors. I’ll be sharing as much as possible of what I learn, but there are limitations to how long I can stay up each evening. You can also follow tweets associated with the meeting using #ANS09.