The mountains caress the bay as flights of seagulls compete for airspace with seaplanes. The grass grows on the broad roof of the convention center 18 stories below my wall of window. The view inspires a certain oneness with nature, though it presents itself to a bank of high-rise hotels on a bustling city edge.
Mountains, the sea, the birds…all are old friends. Inside the modern conference building are many other old friends, the result of decades of annual scientific meetings. Many familiar faces are here, a comforting thought to introverts everywhere.
And yet, this year seems different. Noticeably absent are fellow scientists whose appearance once a year was my only in-person contact. Other colleagues are here, but edging toward retirement, or perhaps struggling to keep up with the changing guard. An invitation to the “Senior Resource Group” is both an honor and a omen of a new status among the elite previously held in awe. A status, one reminds oneself, that while new paths open up, old paths sometimes slowly disappear behind.
But that’s fine. Many long-time colleagues will continue on until they no longer can; raising a new generation of scholars in their wake. My path has veered, by choice, from a life of doing science to one of communicating it. This path is necessary more than ever before – this meeting brings that point home with a vengeance.
And so as old friends grow older, and new friends grow younger, I welcome this new path I’ve chosen. Grass roofs, flying taxis, and the sun reflecting off the glass to glisten off the somnolent waters of the early morning…this is the world of my future.
David J. Kent is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity (2013) and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (2016) (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate.