This past weekend, I journeyed to Roanoke, Virginia with my husband and my two daughters to attend MystiCon. Three days of geeky glory in Appalachia! I had no idea that so many fun, eccentric, nerdy people lived in places like Lynchburg (the home of Jerry Falwell).
The whole thing was wonderful. Costumes, art, gaming... My favorite part was a panel called "Far Out (or Way Far Out) Scientific Concepts You Need to Know About." I attended expecting a talk about dark matter, dark energy, maybe quantum tunneling computers or something deeply disturbing in neuroscience, surveillance technology, etc. What actually happened was much better.
Four men were on the panel, and it seemed as if they had been chosen for dadaistic effect. One was a CSI detective from Baltimore. One was a librarian who hunts ghosts in his spare time with a deep southern drawl. One was a tiny agnostic Jewish UFOlogist who teaches religious studies. One had worked with NASA, and had been on the scene when the Challenger exploded. This last person began with a discussion of space launching - how crude our current methods are, and how electromagnetic propulsion will become dominant. He went on to explain that the aliens among us are capable of instantaneous travel... Deadly serious, with glittering eyes, he invoked Uri Geller, the Council of Nine, the kabbalah. I have always been skeptical of the existence of such people in the military-industrial complex, The Men Who Stare At Goats notwithstanding. Yet when the creature itself stared my husband (who is very much like a goat) in the face, I was forced to admit that here was a tangible piece of evidence.
Everyone was monstrously polite.
I enjoyed myself immensely. I hope I was not alone in that!