Posting from the scenic Newark International Airport.... I just finished attending the 2008 international workshop, ESPMI-08 - Electronic Structure and Processes at Molecular-based Interfaces, at Princeton University, hosted by Antoine Kahn and David Cahen. For me, this was practically the perfect scientific meeting - about 80 attendees, a mix of theorists and experimentalists, and all the talks were very good and pitched at the right level. I'll write more about this later, but for now, two highlights that show that some things are truly universal.
First, we were having a group discussion about organic photovoltaics and the relevant issues, and it was refreshing to see that everyone, even people who have been thinking about these problems for twenty years, starts out thinking about semiconductor interfaces by drawing the un-coupled materials and then thinking about what happens when they are brought into contact. I know I think this way, but it's reassuring to see that no one can just draw complicated band alignment diagrams freehand.
Second, during this morning's session there was a 1-second brownout/power glitch - the air conditioning shut down and restarted; the computer at the front of the lecture hall rebooted. The part that struck me as amusing was how the Princeton faculty immediately motioned to their grad students/postdocs to run off, or ran off themselves, to check on the lab equipment (particularly the UHV systems). I can totally see myself doing that.