Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The accidental session chair

I can already tell that I have one big thing in common with my thesis advisor besides our first name: I have a tough time saying 'no' to favors when asked nicely. As a result, I became a session chair this morning when the designated chair didn't show up. Ahh well.

Some neat science that I saw today:
  • Buckley Prize talk by Jim Eisenstein, covering his work on liquid crystalline phenomena in high Landau levels of 2d electron systems, and his work on exciton superfluidity in 2d electron bilayers. I want to get him to come to Rice for a Keck seminar or physics colloquium this fall - the physics is really pretty.
  • STM experiments by Mike Crommie's group at Berkeley looking at optically induced isomerization switching of azobenzene molecules. Now I know why our own efforts in this direction met with some difficulties. The switching gets quenched in regular azobenzene when the molecule is physisorbed on Au(111). Functionalizing the molecules to weaken their coupling to the metal surface leads to some switching, though even then the cross-section seems to be very small - long exposure to lots of photons = switching of maybe 5% of the molecules.


Angry said...

So what's bad about chairing a session? For the youngin's, it gets one more visibility, shows up on a CV as a sign of the respect you have from peers, adds one more thing to the service category, etc. And all you have to do is stay for a whole session that you'd probably otherwise attend anyway, occasionally pestering someone who talks too long. I don't mean to be argumentative, it's just that I've had to ask people to be chairs before and I thought I was being nice inviting them to chair sessions...do people perceive it as something other than an honor (albeit a minor one)?

Douglas Natelson said...

Hey - Oh, I don't really mind. In fact, I chaired one today that I was invited to run. Sorry if my post sounded snarky - I was mostly annoyed that the assigned chair ditched. I do like chairing sessions, mostly because then I know the session will actually run on schedule, and I can stop silly arguing-at-cross-purposes situations.