Sorry for not posting yesterday, but after alot of driving in Colorado, a delayed flight, a late arrival and a time zone change, I was too pooped!
My second day in Denver was as interesting as the first. I had a later appointment, so was able to have breakfast and check out before driving to Boulder. I got there ages before time, which was useful as I got TOTALLY lost. After driving around the whole place, with little GPS lady being no bloody use to me whatsoever, I finally found a garage where the guy not only gave me directions, but pointed me in the direction of a post office to send another great package of stuff back to Philadelphia. How I will get this all home I do not know! Then at 12.15 or thereabouts I went to the National Snow and Ice Data Centre. They’re a fairly small research centre, focussed on the cryosphere – basically anywhere it’s cold. I talked to their communications people and one of their scientists, dealing with sea ice, which is of course a huge issue and has led to alot of attention for them. It was really stimulating then and the day before to talk so much science (and fairly gratifying from my perspective that I seemed to be able to hold my own in these conversations!)
Then the drive back down the ghost road – a tollway from Boulder to Denver that was just a delight to drive on – almost empty even at rush hour. I suppose people are put off by the tolls, but it suited me! Before leaving Boulder I drove up the side of the mountains, because this is really the point where the Rockies meet the Great Plains. Stunning views, to which I’m sure the photos will do scant justice.
So then it was back to the airport, giving back the rental car (I’m not going into the trauma of refilling it at the petrol station as the memories might send me into some kind of spasm…) and checking in. As I sat having something to eat I realised that I hadn’t done one thing I meant to at the post office which was post my latest OU assignment. Luckily there was a post office at the airport. Unluckily I didn’t have the address with me (though I was sure I had put it in my bag – later transpired that I had, but one of the bags I checked in…). So that’s another day it will be late…
Arrived late (after 11) in Seattle so I just unpacked and went to bed. We had an early start today to head out to Microsoft. And what an interesting day we had. We had talks on some of the education work they are doing including the Innovative Schools Project. We heard about the Worldwide Telescope, super cool as I am just doing the cosmology section of my course. They told us about some of the partnerships they are creating around the world to improve access to technology. Of course, with a group as diverse as ours, there was a lot of talk about the digital divide and how technology is used or abused by governments and/or corporations to improve the lot of its people or keep them in their boxes. The final 2 sessions were particularly interesting from my point of view. Firstly the work of Microsoft Research. What I take away from that is the freedom that they give their researchers to work independently of product development – they are just there to do the best possible basic computer science. Physically they are in a different building. They have a tech transfer team to see what they can “spin out”. It’s a very good atmosphere to stimulate creative thinking. The final session was all about the role of technology in our future world and how that needs to be managed by governments. The guy giving it started off by mentioning a foresight conference he attended at IPTS in Seville (one of our internal research institutes for non-Commission people) so I was very happy! It was a great discussion, because it highlighted on the new paradigm that is emerging and the new skills and education that will have to go along with that if countries are to take advantage. Best of all, we got half an hour in the company shop at the end, so I have Windows Ultimate Vista to upload to my Mac (via Boot Camp) so I will be able to run Windows and OSX on the same computer! And it cost me $45!!! A LOT less than buying a new computer! Let’s hope it works OK when I get home.
So, back at the hotel now and off out with some friends of Barman Phil’s for a few drinks and some live music. Seattle is great, reminds me a bit of Sydney actually. I’m meeting a girl I went to school with for lunch tomorrow, so Seattle will be a social whirl!