After more than four years writing this blog, I’ve decided it’s time to move on to other things. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed those years, making so many friends and joining in conversations with some of the sharpest minds in science. Nature Network remains an incredible collection of voices, discussions and opinions and I will, of course, still drop by from time to time.
As a final farewell, here are my 10 most memorable experiences from my days on Nature Network – some of them wonderful, some of them deeply cringeworthy.
1. Science Online London. This annual conference is now planning for a fourth year. I’m guilty of sparking the whole series after convincing my boss that we really should have a ‘small get-together’ for Nature Network bloggers. I still have the original T-shirt, faded and shrunk but still the nerdiest piece of apparel I own. Apart from a Foursquare superswarm shirt.
2. Monthly pub meetups. The precursors to Science Online in which we invited lots of local scientists to the pub for booze and chat. We normally packed the venue out, especially when one event was gatecrashed by Brian Cox, James Randi, Gia Milinovich and Phil Plait.
3. Meeting the queen. Well, almost. I stood right behind her as she reopened the Royal Institution and watched as she politely rejected some fancy ice cream from Heston Blumenthal. Princes Philip and Michael lapped the stuff up, however.
4. Leading a bunch of scientists on a scientific pub crawl round London. I did this twice as a fringe event for Science Online conferences.
5. Royal Institution quizzes. I’m still doing these. Every couple of months, it’s my pleasure to co-host a science-themed pub quiz for the RI. Come along! Next one on 16 May.
6. Getting locked in the Nature building with some important scientists. After a late-evening focus group, we took a wrong turning in Nature’s labyrinthine offices, ending up in a fire escape with self-locking doors. After a few minutes of hammering, a late-worker let us out.
7. Getting a panda stuck on my head in Second Life. After visiting the WWF’s island in Second Life, I accidentally acquired a pet panda who somehow became attached to my avatar’s left eyeball. We walked around the virtual world with the panda dispensing environmental advice to anyone who didn’t run away. I only just figured out how to remove my ursine passenger before giving a short talk on Nature’s Second Life island.
8. Accidentally asking the heads of Cancer Research UK and the Medical Research Council about their views on a particularly deviant sexual practice (nothing to do with pandas). Ask me about it in the pub sometime. I guarantee that you won’t have a more embarrassing tale.
9. Attending Sci Foo. The annual conference at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View will always be with me. In just two days I got to discuss alien life with the Astronomer Royal and Google CEO Eric Schmidt, sit in a flying car, share a bus ride with Carl Sagan’s widow Ann Druyan and meet a hundred other incredible people.
10. Ten thousand other wonderful conversations, meetups, beers, and interactions with the many special people whom I’ve met on these pages and in real life thanks to the connecting power of Nature Network.
I may occasionally pop back for a guest post or two, but this is essentially my final post. The London blog will continue, in the very capable hands of Joanna Scott. You’ll find me, every day of the week, over on Londonist.com, a website about London and everything in it (including science). And you can follow me on Twitter as @MattFromLondon.
So long and thanks for everything.