Mr. Parikh goes to Washington

I am now in the nation's capital Washington D.C., home to a certain George W. Bush and his pets. As my labmate John informs me, also the city that 8 years ago re-elected a cocaine addict as a mayor (after he was convicted).
I am here for Neuroscience 2005 the biggest annual conference on the Brain.
The Society for Neuroscience that organises the conference chose to invite the Dalai Lama as the keynote speaker. An odd choice but a good one. Those who went for the lecture were struck by his charisma. You could immediately feel that you were in presence of a person who is at ease with himself and the world. He seems rather open to science and wasn't the least bit dogmatic. He subtly hinted at a paradigm shift. I largely agree with what he said but he really hit the nail on the head with this sentence -

"I believe we want happiness, and the way to transform society is through education and by boosting among individuals, families and communities some of the useful emotions such as compassion or forgiveness."

Then he mentioned (what did not get reported in 90% of the papers) that humans can do without religion but not without affection. I was convinced that humans needed either love, money or respect, but upon closer examination I think he is right. The more I think of the word 'affection' and its meaning the more apt it seems to me. What a lovely word - affection. Imagine going up and saying to somebody and saying, "I don't want your love, money or your respect; what I really want is your affection." How true, isn't it?

For more on the Dalai Lama at SFN see: NDTV Story and from the Washington Post.
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Other than that it has been hard-core science most of the time. Most conferences have their share of the schoomzers and snoozers and I would like to stay away from both. My labmate and I were talking about the possibility of a bomb explosion in the Convention Center. What would it mean? At a big meeting like this you would loose 75% of the world's top neuroscientists and it would be huge setback for science. Tim argued that a terrorist might want to do that to strike at the heart of progress and destroy the intellectual wealth of a society. It sure seems like a smart idea but terrorists aren't that smart to begin with, right? Also, the impact factor (intentional pun) would be quite small. Who cares about a bunch of scientists being blown to bits?
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Went to a seminar on How to get published in Nature. That is really wishful thinking. I have made a pledge that if I ever got published in Nature, I would retire. It also interesting to know that Nature has got on the latest pop-technology bandwagon: a) they have a blog and
b) a podcast. There is something new and unusual to learn everyday.


anya said...

I have made a pledge that if I ever got published in Nature, I would retire.

LOL!! Thats like retiring at the peak of your career man? Or would you then continue on in some consulting capacity? Hmm .. that would be nice.

Anyways -- added you to my blogroll. Twas long overdue.

Anirudh said...

Nice one.

Santosh said...

I have made a pledge that if I ever got published in Nature, I would retire.

If you did then you wouldn't, well at least no one would let you.