I just had dinner with a Drosophila geneticist, an historian of science specializing in taxonomy, a paleontologist whose expertise is trilobites, and a developmental biologist who is using sea anemone genome data to map mutants, the opposite of the way things were done when I was in graduate school. By now, we all pretty much know one another, and when I looked over at the other tables, I noted the eclectic mixes. Everyone here is talking about it, how this meeting is like no other. AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) has a gazillion people, only some of whom are actual scientists. The cell biology, human genetics, microbiology, neuroscience, experimental biology, and American Chemical Society meetings have so many concurrent sessions that an attendee spends more time oscillating from room to room than actually absorbing anything. At many meetings the same roster of model organisms dominates - flies,...

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