ACS: Big in America

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The conference gets underway even before my plane lands. A fellow from a microscopy concern is leaning across the aisle chatting to a chemist about his latest model. In the airport shuttle to downtown, chemists wedge inside the van, their poster tubes making the whole process seems like some complex protein folding problem. And today the streets of downtown San Francisco are alive with chemists—teeming with badged hordes looking for a cup of coffee between sessions.

The ACS meeting is big. It has strong points and weak points, but most of all, it is big. This year sees the innovation of satellite registration desks in hotels throughout downtown, and a mind-boggling number of papers—almost 10,000. And I am going to “cover” the meeting. Ha ha ha.

Catherine Goodman, below, says she ends up more or less walking the poster sessions as her fancy takes her. This is perhaps the perfect way to approach a meeting of this size—both posters and talks. Why see all the talks in your own field, when half of it will be old news? Why not stab a pin into the program or just amble into any old session? I pledge to spin the wheel of fate at least once this time—stay tuned for some chemical Kismet.