SAN FRANCISCO--Something new was happening at this year's edition of the AAAS annual meeting. In recent years, the paucity of attendees had turned it into something of an embarrassment. This year, scientists turned out in droves - 5,100 paid attendees showed up in San Francisco between Jan. 14 and 19, up from the 4,570 who attended the 1988 meeting in Boston. And there appeared to be more action in the meeting rooms and corridors of the mazelike, megasized Bay City Hilton.

Perhaps it was the supercharged Bay Area science environment. Perhaps the speakers were more alluring. Whatever it was, scientists often jammed rooms to overhear provocative views. Stalking the hallways and conference rooms, The Scientist's reporters bagged some of the more intriguing - or just amusing - exchanges.

Chaos reigned in San Francisco: Sessions on applying chaos theory to everything from heartbeats to the stars were so popular that...

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