How to Hide from the Zombie Apocalypse

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And other things I learned at the 2015 APS March Meeting

American Physical Society March Meeting

March 2, 2015 to March 6, 2015

San Antonio, TX

Meeting host:

American Physical Society

By:

Justin Flaherty

SPS Chapter:

A talk on how to survive a zombie attack was particularly entertaining. Photo courtesy of Justin Flaherty.

When my friends asked me what the APS March Meeting was about, I jokingly referred to it as “Comic-Con for Physicists.” Nearly ten thousand physicists attended. Having never been to a March Meeting before, I was amazed by the sheer number of people.

I went with fellow undergrad Janna Mino and my optics professor and SPS advisor, Dr. Kiril Streletzky. They both attended the meeting to present research, while I decided to go just to learn. I was given a reporter award through the Society of Physics Students, which meant that I had a press badge. This badge gave me clearance to attend press conferences and conveyed a high level of importance.

The author poses with Jana Mino and Kiril Streletzky in front of their poster on microgels (right).

Being a reporter was a wonderful experience. The press conferences were held in a small room where about 10 people in the audience listened to speakers who had previously given talks to closer to a hundred people. Being in such a small audience allowed me to connect on a more personal level with the speakers and helped me to understand their research in a different light.

As a student working toward a career in physics, I found a press conference on issues related to industrial physics especially interesting. Speakers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and APS represented the Forum on Industrial and Applied Physics (FIAP). FIAP’s goal is to implement methods of outreach that recruit physics students to industry, instead of students having to reach out to industry.

Another talk that I found really interesting was as fun as it was informative. It dealt with the statistical mechanics of a zombie apocalypse, a topic outrageous in the best way possible. According to the results presented, a zombie outbreak is most likely to originate in a densely populated city. The safest place to hide from the zombies would be in the Rocky Mountains. Unfortunately, the simulations showed that all humans would be dead within a few weeks. But hey, zombies are cool. The team was kind enough to make their article available for free on the arXiv website. If you want to read it, look up ID number 1503.01104.

This is what I loved about the March Meeting. I was able to get a better idea of what a career in physics would entail while at the same time being entertained and informed by outrageous, yet clever applications of physics. It was a wonderful experience, and I am looking forward to attending next year. //

Next up

The next APS March Meeting will be held March 14–18, 2016, in Baltimore, MD. For more information, keep an eye on www.aps.org/meetings/meeting.cfm?name=MAR16.

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