Friday, March 25, 2011

Meeting Aftermath

I flew home to Louisiana from the LIGO-Virgo Meeting in California on Saturday.  The rest of this week has been a bit crazy for me since! 

I have been preparing for a talk I am giving at Rice University on Monday (the ad for it is here).  I love giving overview talks on LIGO and its potential so I am very much looking forward to it.  That being said, I don't do 'canned' talks (those are talks that are generic enough to be given with little notice and to varied audiences).  Well, I just lied a little - I do have a very basic talk that introduces LIGO to an audience that has little or no previous knowledge about gravitational waves.  I think that I have given that talk 4 times.  The talk I am giving at Rice is very different in that I am talking to other physicists (faculty and students) who are knowledgeable in physics, but are not experts on relativity or gravitational waves.  The most difficult part is figuring out how best to pitch the talk so that everyone stays interested but no one gets lost.  And then there is the issue of what cool things to talk about and what other things to leave out (I only have a 55 min slot and that includes time for audience questions).  Those are some of the hardest choices.

And then life always likes to make everything more complicated...

I was having an odd toothache since just before the I left for the meeting.  I got the first dentist appointment that was available to have it looked at.  I made a horrible mistake of taking some Advil before my appointment (it hurt) which made it difficult for him to figure out what was going on (since it didn't hurt anymore then).  Since there was something suspicious on my X-rays he was worried that I may need a root canal and that would need a specialist my roots on that tooth are curved irregularly.  So off to the root canal doctor the next day (no stress - it's not that I'm scared of a root canal, I just had so much work to do, a talk to polish and I didn't want to be recovering from a root canal while giving the talk).  GOOD NEWS!  It turns out that I brush my teeth with a little bit more enthusiasm than in healthy for my gums.  I have a little bit of recession which exposes a bit of dentin which causes sensitivity and repeatedly exposing those teeth to cold/hot/sweet/etc. was causing the ache.  I don't think the root canal doctor gets someone to smile as big to him as I did when he told me I needed some Sensodyne toothpaste and not a root canal!

<sigh>  It is a little odd writing my mundane blog posts after the post about the "Big Dog" blind injection got so much attention.  But the whole point of this blog is to let you see what it is like to be a LIGO scientist for real.  The bottom line is that there are some days where great and interesting things happen, but most days are just like everyone else's.  Right now, I need to clean up my house, I need to get groceries (I haven't gone for more than bread, etc. in a few weeks and I am out of everything), I have a pile of laundry with my name on it (and my husband's name since he helps out with that - I have a great man at my back) and a movie from Netflix that has been sitting by my TV for almost 3 weeks.  Yup.  This is my life and I like it just the way it is!

Here's a little LIGO fun to get you though the weekend.  This compilation of Beach Boys parodies was made by a group of LIGO REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) summer students.  I guess we didn't keep them busy enough :)

Research experiences are priceless for physics students, especially those considering going on to graduate school.  If you are interested in the LIGO REU, you can find more information here.  It is too late to apply for this summer, but consider applying for next summer!  Most students end up working at Caltech (like the students in this video) but you may get to work/visit LIGO Livingston and meet me :P