Monday, September 29, 2008

Checking in From Down Under

It appears that everyone wants to talk about politics in the comments, no matter what the post is about -- okay, there's your American democracy at work, and it's fun to hear how some people manage to justify the unjustifiable. I am typing this sitting in a conference session in Adelaide, listening to a fascinating discussion of a computer system that allows the identification of insect footprints. A bug walks through some ink onto a clean sheet of stuff where it leaves footprints. Then a scientist can gather the sheet, scan it, and analyze the footprint pattern to determine what kind of bug it was. On some of these little islands out here -- the presenter is from New Zealand -- it can be really important if a new species arrives in a shipping container or some other way, and so they do want to keep track.

Another guy just gave a great talk about a certain method of fraud detection, and another is using DNA to create encryption keys, fascinating stuff. This morning there was an interesting talk about research where they implanted an electrode in a fly's brain and monitored a neuron as the fly watched a scene to see if another fly was chasing it. A fly is buzzing along, another fly dives at it, they chase -- how does the fly know that one speck in the environment is another fly? The presentation talked about certain factors that influence that decision.

I gave the opening day keynote talk, and I think it went well. We started a little late because the shuttle that came around got lost. The driver and navigator didn't use a map or anything, they just drove around till they saw the street name they were looking for, then went one way or the other to see if the numbers got bigger or smaller. I wasn't worried, I was giving the first talk and so I knew I wouldn't miss anything. It was kind of fun, everybody on the bus was laughing and having a good time. Well, what could we do?

Internet access is iffy here, the hotel wants twenty-five bucks a day and the conference has wireless but it's not very strong. Everybody here has a kangaroo story, it's great, the people are very friendlly and funny, even the taxi driver was funny and smart. Oh, and I found out a little more about Australian "rules" football. I asked some guys and they did know a rule. Apparently you can't tackle somebody by the head. As they thought about it, it came out that you have to get rid of the ball before you hit the ground when you're tackled, and you have to do it certain ways, kick it or throw it a certain way, or the other team gets possession of the ball. So see? There are rules.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting reading... and no politics from this commenter. There is a web site for Americans who are interested in Australian football. We have some links under the FAQs section of our menus on the rules.

September 29, 2008 6:46 PM  
Blogger Zoe Brain said...

You've got to get an AB from the Blue and White Cafe on O'Connell St in North Adelaide.

Picture here.

Or the one from
North Adelaide Burger Bar
51 O'Connell St, Adelaide, SA 5006
ph: (08) 8267 2250

Regulars add "-ortion" to give it's full name. They tidied it up a bit for the hoi palloi.

October 01, 2008 1:51 AM  
Blogger JimK said...

Oh yeah, Zoe, that looks appetizing! Thanks for the tip.


October 01, 2008 7:49 AM  

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