Field of Science

Southwestern interlude

"Prediction is very difficult...especially about the future" - Niels Bohr

Finally back from The Land of Enchantment. The guys at OpenEye are awesome and immensely smart. I learnt more in this mentally exhausting conference than in any until now. There was much modeling, crystallography, screening, mathematical similarity, statistics and whatnot. In the past few weeks, I have had to deal with previously arcane (to me) statistical concepts like ROC curves which are fascinating. The conference indicated that there is much success we still have by chance, and one of the best ways to tackle molecular complexity in all its forms is by starting simple, for example in trying to predict solvation energies for simple organic molecules, still a highly challenging endeavor. Prediction is difficult indeed, especially about the simple things.

On the whole, New Mexico is indeed very special (and those who say that only Santa Fe is nice haven't really been around Albuquerque). I lived in a splendid studio apartment in a lively and charming old-age home, ate enough green chile to last a lifetime, visited the National Atomic Museum, admired turkey quilts in the Pueblo Indian museum, kicked around dust in the Santa Fe Plaza, bought a Sidney Harris cartoon t-shirt, and got a free one from OpenEye with the quote above, a favourite.

The air is thin, dry and crystal clear. One of the consequences of this is that...let me just say that a little alcohol goes a long way, especially for someone who hardly ever drinks. The sun is brighter and lights up your thoughts. The miles upon miles of pinon-covered hillocks and the snow-capped Sandia and Sangre de Cristo mountains in the distance are marvelous. The ski slopes of Santa Fe make you happily giddy. The landscape is like nothing I had seen before, and it seems to be wholesome for arty, existentialists types. Robert Oppenheimer once said that his two great loves were physics and desert country. He thought it was a pity they could not be combined, until he discovered Los Alamos. New Mexico seems to provide one of the few avenues for such a heady combination.

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