SciFoo is annual gathering of scientists, technologists, and geeks in general held at Googleplex in Mountain View.
SciFoo is 24 hours away. Pretrip planning becomes calm excitement as the participant updates grow on the wiki. The list reads like a runway show of scientists and technologists. Bob Langer, Frank Wilczek, Esther Dyson, Jaron Lanier, Bill Nye.
It’s not a name dropping contest. The list is interrupted by awesome descriptions of new people and ideas that are now on my Must-Meet/Must-See List.
Big Data: Exascale Astronomy
Open-source drug discovery: possible or not?
The Joys and Sorrows of Blogging on a Network
Do We Live in a Multiverse?
What is the minimum publishable unit? And should we start doing it?
Motivating People to Help the World's Poor
Lab Books 2.0
We’re not in Florida and it’s not Disney. This is SciFoo at the Googleplex—Space Mountain has the possibility of going to a one of many multiverses according to Alan Guth, and the car designs in Tomorrowland could be explained by evolutionary design instructions presented by Cornell’s Hod Lipson. Instead of Cinderella, we get a Nobel Prize winning physicist, a fossil expert, a baby psychologist, a chemical-informatics-expert-turned-world-economic-data-indexer and a science toy expert. That and a guy who reconstructed Babbage’s Difference Engine.
Out of Legos.
Disney World turns into a Black Friday frenzy as folks dash to two-day scheduling board to secure session spot. Here's where I am awed the controlled chaos that the SciFoo team creates: Small details like blocking of certain hours for people arriving late. Printing every single
Friday night begins to paint a multicolored picture of the weekend.
Then I run into Simon Field from SciToys.com. We’ve never met–but we are on each other's list and spend the next couple days brainstorming ideas for my next medical device. Simon gave me a crash course on DIY optics which led to a laser microscope construction with two webcam lenses he gave me. This will come in handy as a class exercise if I write about instant prototyping anytime soon.
To find out about the conclusions of our talk click here. After this, it’s decisions decisions decisions so I crashed the lightning talks and pay attention to Three Rules for Mad Scientists (Garrett Lisi), Carl Zimmer's Three Rules to be Understood;
Fabrication, objects, convenience and immediacy took a back seat during a fiery discussion on the Templeton Foundation where I got to meet Dan Barcay of Google and Hal Abelson of MIT–Cambridge geeks tend to gravitate, especially when we can commiserate about the awful weather waiting for us back home. After mentally bracing the upcoming weather we brainstormed on using the new Android Inventor App for interfacing medical technologies in the developing world. Stay tuned for an update from Cambridge on that one.
Back in Cambridge is where you find Derek Lowe, of Vetter Pharmaceuticals who co-presented with Matt Todd on their quest to pursue the first-ever open source drug discovery platform. They are crowdsourcing drug discovery. Everyone can help!
It's 5 PM and my brain is running faster than I can talk—sentences seem to fade off as constantly get distracted…that’s Tim O’Reilly, wait did that other guy say prototyping structures out of DNA…I want to try Simon’s Air Canon.
DIY Medical Technologies. I'll be happy if 5 people show up–including a friend from MIT. MEDIKit in hand, I find that the room is full, the projector is ready (after some trial and error) and I try my darnedest to focus on being open and candid. We’re not selling research, we’re sharing what’s working and what’s not. This is by far the smartest group of folks I've encountered, let alone present to. They wowed me with their questions, challenge my positions, and played with our gadgets. DIY Medical Tech might make it after all.
As the evening opens up for dinner, I strike to strike a conversation with a bioethicist on the merits of regulatory reform for global health medical devices; schedule prototypes of diagnostics with Hal Abelson, learn about open source microscopy environments from Jason Swedlow.