There is no way to get around billions of years for the history of the earth.

Age of Rocks

Last week, the Geological Society of America met for its annual meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia. I’m not sure what the official count was for this year’s attendance, but annual meetings have drawn as many as ~5,500 or more geologists from across North America and beyond. The sheer size of the conference is daunting; nearly 350 technical sessions and a dozen field trips ran over the course of five days, providing students and researchers with the opportunity to engage experts from their highly specialized fields. It is the premier TV package for those enthusiastic about Earth science—everyone can find something to watch.

Besides their obvious appeal to the traveler, these professional conferences serve many valuable purposes. It is a place to hear about the latest and greatest research in your field, especially from invited speakers who recently published high-impact papers. For the student, it is a place to network with professors, who may one day advise…

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