Anna Harris attends science UN-conference

Over the summer Anna Harris attended an invitation-only UN-conference SciFoo camp at Googleplex, Palo Alto. Organised by Nature, Digital Science and O’Reilly Media, the conference brought together a fascinating group of people from diverse areas of science and technology.

Every summer 250 people whose work relates to science in some way are invited to attend SciFoo, the un-conference held at Google headquarters. This year Anna Harris was invited to attend. The format was simple – get rid of stilted presentations and focus on the kind of corridor-conversation where the most interesting things happen. Nourish this with great food. There was no schedule, the timetable was made up on the first evening by participants using post-it notes. Sessions were hands-on and interactive. Lightening talks gave short glimpses into fascinating areas of research. Astronomers, cosmologists, performance artists, biologists, neuroscientists, journalists, makers, engineers, podcasters and origami artists conversed freely over delicious Californian cuisine and hung out in the indoor “camping ground”. Despite the focus on technology few laptops and iPads were to be seen, and in fact going online was actively discouraged. All this resulted in an inspiring weekend fuelled by curiosity and unfettered openness to others’ ideas.

Image by Anna Harris, of “molecules” made in an origami workshop during the conference.

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