Aug 19, 2010

Prelude to China, The Great Wall and the Photosynthesis Congress

Since I was a kid I always dreamed of seeing the Great Wall of China. Such magnificent structure, a testament to human prowess! I never imagined a day would come when this dream would come true… when I would see it with my own eyes, and it came sooner than I expected.

This will be my first trip to China and I’m certain it won’t be the last… since C&C Incorporated (for those of you who don’t know; that’s the name of the hugely successful biotech company I and my friend will create in the near future) shall open a few branches in Asia. But for now, I’ll stay only seven days, I’ll arrive Saturday 21st in the morning and I’ll be traveling back the 27th in the afternoon. I will only have the afternoon of the 21st and the entire 22nd of August to sightsee and explore around. That is because the real reason I’m visiting China is to attend the 15th international Photosynthesis Congress, which is the most important and biggest congress in photosynthesis in the world! Lucky me I’ll present my work there, the title of my talk is:

“A water oxidising electrode consisting of Photosystem II in a TiO2 nanoparticle layer on a conducting surface”

And I’ll be talking the last day, 15 minutes.

Leaving the science behind, international conferences are very enjoyable occasions; generally (not always) you get great food, a lot of booze… free booze sometimes. There’s also a lot of people you know from the scientific community and new people to get to know. It’s always fun, constructive fun, since you’re there to learn (theoretically)!

The previous Photosynthesis Congress was three years ago in Glasgow and I also had the chance to go; then I was a young inexperienced PhD student. That meeting suffered badly because of the food, the food was either fish and ships or a crappy tiny wok… every single day of the week. Not only the food was of insufficient quality and quantity, but for the coffee break there weren’t enough snacks for everyone so people left the lecture sessions earlier in order to be able to compete for some piece of cookie…

Logo of the Photosynthesis Congress in Beijing

As you might realize food plays an important role in conferences, because it sucks to sit for hours at a lecture hall with your stomach empty or totally unsatisfied. It’s very distracting and annoying!

I remember the last day of the Glasgow conference; they were announcing that in three years the new Photosynthesis Congress would be in Beijing! The Chinese guy advertising the conference ended with a PowerPoint slide of Chinese awe inspiring delicacies… and his last words were: “and there will be delicious food!”. I think I shed a tear of happiness.

The Congress people also organized a trip to the Great Wall, which is deep in my heart the secret real reason why I’ll be standing there in front of the scientific community speaking about Photosystem II in a titanium dioxide surface.


  1. Tanai!!! I just found your blog - hilarious! MMMM I wish I was there to eat those Chinese delicacies... *stomach growling* I think I could give a speech about for example the abrubt end of photosynthetis in vegetables during stir-frying, do you think I can come too?

  2. "the Great Wall of China...a testament to human prowess!"

    Not my assessment. This is what I wrote in Wonderful:

    "There can be few finer monuments to the folly and vainglory of man than this historic security barrier, which, we shouldn’t forget, didn’t actually work."