I hit the Evil Geniuses panel, which was having its 10th anniversary show. Fun! The line was enormous but they fit most folks pretty easily. Interesting thing about the seating: there was a huge gap off to the side, right in front of me, where they refused to seat anyone. This is because there was a pretty good leak coming from the ceiling and dripping into a trash can below, splashing a lot. This was happening near a light fixture, and about midway through the panel there was a loud POP as that light shorted and blew out. This didn’t help the tension as they were showing off the fusion reactor.
Sitting next to me was a group of younger women. Although it’s no surprise that women are taking an interest in Science and Evil, in the case of these ladies, I wasn’t clear why they were there. I caught several snippets of conversation that had me wondering how they ended up here. The first such was when, shortly after we sat down, one announced to the cadre that Bill Nye, “that science guy?” had died last week.
Of course, Bill Nye is still alive. I’m assuming she confused the news stories of Neil Armstrong dying and Bill Nye’s commentary regarding the teaching of evolution. I refrained from correcting them because I had the sense that it would take about half an hour to explain properly.
Later on the panel decided to show off the small, homebuilt fusion reactor. This was of course very exciting and interesting. As a joke, the hosts began handing out bits of tinfoil so that people could protect “the important bits”. This was happening much closer to the front than we were, but it was clear what was going on and the folks on the panel made plenty of jokes about it. This prompted more commentary.
“Why are they handing out tinfoil? I don’t get it.” “They’re all making weird hats and stuff, what the hell?” “Should we get some? Are we supposed to make hats too? They look lame.” etc. Shortly thereafter they got up and left the panel, just before they started explaining the reactor.
I’m certainly not against people turning up at panels to learn, especially when science is involved. That’s a good thing, and I hope they learned something (I suspect they didn’t). But I’m still somewhat confused as to how they’d have decided to even attend this panel at all. Perhaps they were expecting it to be some sort of celebrity interview? I don’t know.