Sunday, May 20, 2007

In Toronto for ASM 2007

This year the big meeting for the American Society for Microbiology is in Toronto. Which is odd, because Canada has its own professional association, the Canadian Society of Microbiologists. Are they going to hold their meeting in New York? Anyway, I'm here and enjoying a return to a city that I visited several times as a teenager and then as a postdoc in the (relatively) close University of Waterloo. I'll try to post highlights as I see them from the conference each day until Friday.

Oh, I have to tell you an amusing story that occurred when I was going through customs today as I was entering Canada: The customs official asked me why I was entering Canada and I told him that I was attending the microbiology meeting, and he asked me where I worked and I told him I worked at the J. Craig Venter Institute, and he responded with "You know, are they ever going to do studies of the ocean bacteria that live too deep for photosynthesis?". Which is a totally valid question -- the Global Ocean Survey used samples collected from Craig's yacht, not a research vessel, so the samples were from the surface. But I was a bit stunned hearing it coming from a customs official!

Concerning the pictures -- one is of Dundas Square -- which didn't even exist the last time I was in Toronto, and the other is of the so-called World's Biggest Bookstore. I went there today for old-times sake. It is quite a large bookstore, and I was blown away by it when I first visited it in the 1980s, when my idea of a bookstore was a typical Waldenbooks or B. Dalton's. But while it's still larger than than the average Barnes and Noble (or Chapters or Indigo, eh?) location of today, it isn't mindbogglingly larger.


Jonathan Eisen said...

Well, that is impressive for a customs official. However, he did unfortunately get it a bit wrong. As there is nowhere that is too deep for photosynthesis ... see for example. Apparently, organisms can photosynthesize off of either infrared irradiation and/or light coming from mineral precipitation.

Jonathan Badger said...

Neat. Silly customs official not being up to date on photosynthesis research! :-)