I've got AAAS on my mind!  Photo by Jean-Etienne Minh-Duy Poirrier

I've got AAAS on my mind! Photo by Jean-Etienne Minh-Duy Poirrier

Two years after the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver–almost to the day–a science Olympiad will touch down in our empirical city.

The annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science hits Vancouver’s impressive native plant-bedecked, harbourfront convention center on the 16th through the 20th of February. To attend, you must register, and it doesn’t come cheap.

I’ve been eagerly anticipating the event ever since I received a bright-red set of Canadian mittens as promotional swag at last year’s “Triple A-S” (AAAS), in Washington, DC.

Count on it being the largest Vancouver gathering of Nobel laureates for years to come, and the year’s highlight for the many international fans who follow the meeting like Deadheads. My own tribe of science journalists dominate the crowd of groupies centred on the meeting’s newsroom. Watch out for us to make the scene at local night clubs and restaurants after filing two or three stories a day on the ground-breaking research on offer.

The overall theme for the meeting is a perfect fit for our cosmopolitan home: “Flattening the World: Building the Global Knowledge Society.” We should count on seeing many pioneering projects set to tackle the complex, interconnected challenges of the 21st century with science-based, international, multidisciplinary solutions.

Here’s just a few highlights from the plenary sessions to get us started:

  • Science journalists and high-profile educators get their own plenary, with the 007-worthy title “Science Is Not Enough.” Featuring climate scientist James Hansen (NASA/Columbia University), evolutionary biologist Olivia Judson (NY Times/Imperial College London), and global health data visualization guru Hans Rosling (Gapminder/Karolinska Institute).  Moderated by Emmy award-winner Frank Sesno (ex-CNN/George Washington Univ).
  • Did you know that humanity is recreating a New Library of Alexandria? It’s director and champion of the Arab and Muslim science tradition, Ismail Serageldin, gets an hour to speak on “Science and Democracy.” I’ll bet this  proud Egyptian champion of human rights and applying science to global problems will inspire.
  • Finally, get in touch with your inner chimpanzee with Frans B. M. de Waal of Emory Univeristy’s Yerkes Primate Center. He makes a great case for a positive view of human nature, rooted in a long evolutionary history of “Primate Social Instincts to Human Morality.” He does a nice impression of a laughing chimp, too.