Wednesday, April 30, 2014

At the Convention with 35,000 others!


Today we got to move into our 10'x10' booth in the sub level cavern of the convention center. The time had finally come to show the people of the world what the Arizona Mathematics Road Show was all about. We were in the best shape of our demonstration lives thanks to the 30+ shows that lay behind us across the southern half of the U.S. But wait, something wasn't quite right: where were the crowds of small children who would undoubtedly tear the place apart unless we appeased their every wish? Hmm, it suddenly seemed like we might be able to ease into this booth thing, as opposed to a metaphorical leap of faith.

Really, I won't say that I was disappointed, but by the time the VIP party started, we hadn't even done 50 harmonograph drawings. However, I mustn't look a gift horse in the mouth: the gentle start to the weekend gave us much needed time to fine tune the few instruments that we weren't in the habit of bringing in with us for shows. The harmonograph was creating better and better graphs of harmony, and all of a sudden the PA system boomed above us, “Thank you for coming to the Science and Engineering Festival, the halls will be shutting down in 15 minutes. Please come back tomorrow for even more fun, and STEM.” Holy Smokes I thought, the time was 2:45 pm, and at 3:00 we were basically done. For the next three hours we were invited to wander through the convention center, and explore the other booths that were a part of the Festival.

I mean this place was full of intrigue, where were we supposed to begin? I found it very interesting to observe how information trickled from person to person by word of mouth, and eventually we discovered that there was an opening ceremony happening on one of the halls above. I followed the masses up escalator after escalator until I came to a truly impressive display of bodies in motion. I had the fleeting impression of being a single water molecule flowing down a gradient and coming to rest in a landscape depression alongside fellow molecules. At this opening ceremony, I let most of the pleasantries drift through one ear and out the other; however, one piece stuck, and I filed it in my mind under convention trivia: imagine this, we were about to experience a wave of people numbering somewhere between 30,000 and 35,000. WHAT?? We were going to need at least another packet of paper for the harmonograph.  

Once I had recovered from that shock, I followed my group out to dinner with some old friends, and put any disturbing thoughts of large numbers out of my mind.

Tasty Bits:

It turns out that you can use other people's mouths as musical instruments if you have a long enough series of straws joined end to end. All they have to do is mouth A E I O U while you blow the improvised reed instrument. 

No comments:

Post a Comment