Day 5: Fleeting Moments In Atlanta
Another ACS meeting is coming to a close today. As I reflected before the meeting started, I expected a week of great chemistry. And as usual, I wasn’t disappointed. I have plenty of work to do in the coming weeks to put together a few articles.
I was going to say something smart here about how the convention center looked like a ghost town this morning, as a lot of people bail out on the final day. I remember attending a talk on Thursday afternoon at the ACS meeting in Washington last fall with three people in the audience. But heck, I’m not even at the convention center today. I spent four full days there, and I decided to give myself a few hours off before I head to the airport and home. By the way, another sign of ACS leaving town is that at the Atlanta Hilton, where I am staying, a new group of conventioneers is moving in: It’s a group of collectors of Hot Wheels toy cars. Go figure.
Some of my memorable ACS meeting moments? At one point I remember being glad I don’t drink coffee when I saw a wrap-around line at one of the convention center’s Starbucks. Another moment was my thinking how normal a person Nobel Laureate Richard Schrock of MIT is when I saw him walking down one of the concourses humming to himself and keeping a beat by tapping on a handrail. Finally, seeing that Texas A&M chemistry professor F. Albert Cotton may be the last soul still giving technical talks using transparencies instead of PowerPoint. (All the meeting rooms had overhead projectors, but I didn’t see anyone else use one.) But you know, at age 75 Cotton’s still doing great chemistry.
So for my last morning here in Atlanta, I got up early and went for a run around downtown. It’s a great way to see a city, and I didn’t get to see much of Atlanta this week. As I ran up one street and down another, I ended up running by the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site. I’m sure this was fate at work. It was still early and the buildings were closed, but I stopped at his gravesite. I stood there alone in the plaza with King’s tomb, his wife Coretta Scott King’s gravesite nearby. It was a powerful moment to consider how one person can make a difference in the world, and it has left me with more to think about as I head on home.—Steve Ritter, filed at 10:15 AM EST