Sunday, August 26, 2007


I had a good week in Cologne, and am home, full to the brim with geochemistry, the local Kolsch, and kuchen (bier and cake, not usually at the same time). To whatever extent I was mildly emaciated after the field, I've successfully indulged my way back.

I've been to this area once before, but it was 13 years ago now, and I never had to navigate my own way around, and I have to give the Germans credit for an extremely easy and efficient public transportation system. I guess that is also in comparison to navigating around in China, which was slightly more challenging (probably due more to language than anything else).

Anyway, it was pretty uneventful trip; just the usual conference stuff. Sit around all day listening to talks until I was brain-dead, drink free beer at the poster sessions (that is the typical way we get bribed into it, and the germans were no exception), then stay out later than I planned, eating, drinking and socializing. Usually makes for a tiring week where I can't actually claim to have done anything tiring..... Only thing I can claim is that I presented a poster on the paleotemperature data I've been gathering from Wyoming samples.

As a side story, the most entertaining things at talks are the analogies scientists come up with to make their work easier to understand. The most entertaining ones I heard this conference came from a session I sat through on geochemical evidence for the origin of life. "Imagine you cook some chicken at 500 degrees for 500 million years, and then let it sit for a few more billion years. What color should it be? What does the chicken smell like?" This was an attempt to make it clear why it is important to distinguish between gray and black, and why the aromatics go away. I was entertained. Won't be trying it anytime soon in my own kitchen, however.

We did have an afternoon off in the middle of the week, so I wandered around the city with some other grad students, and then spent an hour or so at some hydrothermal baths in the city. It was a nice way to spend a cool, rainy summer afternoon.

The Cologne Cathedral, the symbol of the city, and a pretty amazing gothic cathedral:

typical european street near my hotel:


Fault Rocks said...

Must. Know. Who gave excellent chicken quote? that's frickin fabulous and i must use it

kes said...

The chicken analogizer was Roger Buick from the University of Washington.