Going to another unconventional science meeting: SENS3, Cambridge, UK

I am visiting the third Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS3) conference, which will be held from 6-10 September 2007 at Queens’ College, Cambridge.

Aubrey de Grey (with whom I made a blogterview in 2006), the main organizer and soul behind the conference is clear about the purpose: “The purpose of the SENS conference series, like all the SENS initiatives (such as the journal Rejuvenation Research and the Methuselah Mouse Prize), is to expedite the development of truly effective therapies to postpone and treat human aging by tackling it as an engineering problem: not seeking elusive and probably illusory magic bullets, but instead enumerating the accumulating molecular and cellular changes that eventually kill us and identifying ways to repair — reverse — those changes, rather than merely to slow down their further accumulation.

SciFooschedulemilieuSo after SciFoo I have the chance to visit another unconventional science gathering. SciFoo was unconventional by definition as it was an unconference with no strict schedule defined earlier (remember Henry Gee: Someday, all conferences will be like this), while SENS3 is unconventional due to its mission statement. SciFoo, SENS: ideal meeting points for young scientists with strong drive for change and looking for the new.

SENS3 is not an average conference in any respect and I am really happy to participate for 5 reasons, firstly, as this was the only conference I found where there are both good mitochondrial and stem cell biology sessions and those are my 2 major biological topics, b., there will be a lot of biogerontology presentations on aging and thirdly, because this is the only scientific conference that includes the heavyweight life extension supporter scholar fellows, including the organizer Aubrey de Grey or the practical life extensionist Ray Kurzweil. Fourthly, the conference clearly has some broader science politics implications as there is the more and more important question whether how it is possible to do research directly aiming human life extension or is it contradictory somehow as what scientists can do is just answering strictly restricted and well defined experimental questions. Last but not least I can meet my Cambridge friends and colleagues I’ve met last year during my 3 months Cambridge visiting period.

People I missed on SciFoo Camp, 2007: The Google Scholar team

GoogleScholarteamThere were around 200 campers at the SciFoo Camp, but there are at least 10 times more who could also be easily invited by the same token. There was only real surprise to me concerning the missing: I’ve never found the Google Scholar team members. Where were the Scholar founders, Anurag Acharya and Alex Verstak, or Robert Tansley, software engineers or Christian DiCarlo, responsible for content partnerships who helps to develop relationships with publishers and libraries to make more scholarly literature discoverable online? It would be so good to get some first hand information on the future directions of Google Scholar but at least I was unable to identify any Scholar people in the crowd at the Googleplex. Maybe some of them visited SciFooin 2006, I don’t know.

After all, Google Scholar is Google’s own scholarly search engine with the mission as Acharya said: “I have a simple goal — or, rather, a simple-to-state goal. I would like Google Scholar to be a place that you can go to find all scholarly literature — across all areas, all languages, all the way back in time.”