Aug 31, 2010

北京 – Update on the Photosynthesis Congress and a little story I heard – Part II

The International Photosynthesis Congress in Beijing was pretty awesome! Particularly because it was announced that the Photosystem II crystal structure had been obtained at an impressive atomic resolution of 1.9 Å. Photosystem II is the only input of energy into the living world, it’s within the leaves of plants and within algae in the oceans. Without it there would be no life on Earth. Perhaps one day I’ll make a blog entry about it… in the meantime, you should check it out on Wikipedia.

In addition, my boss was elected the new president of the International Society of Photosynthesis Research, which is pretty cool. He now gets to help with the organization of the next congress in 2013; in St. Louis, Missouri.

My presentation went well; I was pretty nervous thought… I started talking and immediately I felt my mouth extremely dry! An after-effect of the nervousness? I subtly looked at the table to my left to see if there was some water… nothing. I think I should have been given a glass of water, but that was an honor that only the plenary lecturers got. I survived though; I think my old boss from Sweden was glad to see that I was doing good in France, he asked me a question at the end of the presentation and I could sense it in his eyes and voice tone, he was proud.

Conclusion: Beijing was awesome and the conference too. I’ll be back one day again for sure!


And now a story I heard about the Great Wall of China.

The story says that once an emperor had a beautiful concubine, she was his favorite, but she had suffered too much in life so she never smiled. The emperor tried everything to make her smile, he never succeeded. It seems that a counselor advised him that it would be a great idea to take her to the Great Wall at night, and light the fire signals from tower to tower to tower… a beautiful spectacle! The troops after seeing the signal would get ready and march for battle just to find that there was no enemy and no invasion, which would just add to the amusement of the concubine. The emperor thought it was a wonderful idea and so he did and so it happened. The concubine smiled and they lived happily ever after until the Mongols came, they lit the fired but the soldiers thought it was another joke. Then… Genghis Khan conquered China.

(Warning: this story might not be historically accurate).

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