Field of Science

Dispatches from the Frontiers of Science

This week I'm at a Gordon Research Conference (on Chemical Education Research and Practice). These are small conferences, meant to foster informal conversations between active scientists. They were founded 75 years ago by Neil Gordon, a chemist from Johns Hopkins. The ground rules for the conference are that no results may be cited from the conference, (so I can't post about the intriguing work I'm hearing about research in science education this week) so that presenters are encouraged to bring new, speculative, unfinished ideas to the table for active discussion.

I've heard Nobel laureates talk about current work, and sketch out their current thinking on unfinished problems, a rare and wonderful opportunity. Once, I'll admit, I heard a talk from a prominent scientist that repeated work of 15 years before, but generally the talks are interesting, if not all quite at the frontiers of science as Neil Gordon imagined them.

The summer conferences are held in New England at colleges and boarding schools. You stay in the dorms, eat in the cafeteria and have afternoons free to take a hike with colleagues and talk science. I have a friend who calls it summer camp for chemists!

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