April in Paris 1990 - part 4 -Sunday
The registrationprocedure was quite simple We just had to pick up our name tags atthe door - and then go upstairs to the desk and pick up the ticketsfor the various activities we had booked, and Philip had to pay for a lunch ticket for his Wednesday outing to G'if. We then had a meander around the museum. The display, all in French of course, was about the beginnings of man, and heredity and genetics. I was disappointed that it was mostly writing, charts and graphs which I thought were rather simplistic. But Philip thoughtsome of them were very well done. My French is very old 30 year old school-type which hasn't had any opportunity to be sharped in the interim, But with difficulty I could get the gist of most of the written French. Spoken French was for the most part unintelligible to me, except for the odd word or phrase. and i only once or twice adventured to say more than the odd Merci or Bon jour.
One display I spent a long time trying to decipher was about when life actually begins. The
poster said, I think, that it has been definitely decided that life begins at conception, and that despite different opinions of religions and political groups, this was the very truth. As it turned
out, the day we were reading this was the day before the British Parliament voted on the Embryo research bill, when that particular political group obviously showed they didn't agree with the French
makers of that museum poster.
We soon were bored with the museum and decided to walk down to the Seine and have a cup of
tea and an ice c ream. We were due back at the Museum for a reception from 6 to 8, so we didn't want to wander too far off. The Museum de l'Homme is part of a complex of buildings in the Palais de Chaillet. That name is very familiar to me because when I was i high school, our drama class presented the Madwoman of Chaillet, which I was privileged to be. I must read the play again now that I know where my home was at that time was supposed to be.
The same building that houses our museum also has a Theatre and the Maritime Museum. Next
door was a mirror image of our building which housed another theatre and two more museums,. All were in beautiful white stone, lovely graceful design, and the gardens which joined the two buildings were on three levels and reached down to the Seine, and were exactly in line with the Eiffel Tower. On Sunday the place was a hive of activity. The great teenage sport was roller skating, and kids of all sizes were skating up and down stairs and paths and jumping hurdles and slaloming though an obstacle course. The adults didn't seem to resent this great confusion of activity and some of the kids were very skilled.
Another activity was a huge picture made of empty green bottles which filled the entire centre space between the buildings. There was a crane which was selling rides so people could take photographs of the picture from a proper vantage point. From the ground the picture was so large and spread out you couldn't see what it was, except for the year, and what seemed to be an eye shape. It apparently was the work of Friends of the Earth, who were raising money to support green issues.
We had to push through a mass of tourists and locals to get to the steps and the terraces, to walk down to the river. The tea and ice cream were a bit of a let down when we finally got them, but we appreciated the chance to sit down. The river was very busy with touring boats going up and down all the time. One was trying to entice passers-by just near us with frequent notices that the boat was leaving in just two minutes. which went on for at leas t half an hour before it finally left. There was blaring popular music from the docking are, which didn't please Bill at all.
The reception that night and also on Monday at the Louvre \nd on Wednesday at G'if consisted
of champagne, whisky, wine or fruit juice and loads of little fancy canapes and as much as you could eat and drink. I made good use of the caviar, which I had never tasted before, but just loved.
This conference itself was not as much fun as other ones we have been on. This was mainly
because the participants were people whom Philip didn't know, and they didn't have much interest in his work, or he in theirs. Accelerated mass spectroscopy is a fairly new field - a branch of nuclear physics. The idea is to have a method of measuring specific elements during their decomposition into atoms in this fancy machine. Philip, Bill and James thought they were the first in the world to use this machine to measure radioactive aluminium, which Philip thinks will be useful in his kidney research work. They can tag the aluminium medication the patients take, and see how much is
taken up into bones for instance. The half life of Al 126 is very long, so the danger from radioactivity is very slight - less than normal back ground radiation. Philip himself was a guinea pig and took some of the stuff and they used his blood to demonstrate how this could be done. But when we got there, we found that another scientist from Pennsylvania also thought he was the first, but he had only done his research on rats. But the majority of the participants were only interested in the machines themselves, not in the results they could produce to be of benefit to medicine or whatever. The only real use so far for these machines is to date carbon in antiquities - like the Turin Shroud they did last year. So as a contrast to the medical or trace metal meetings we've attended before where all the interest is in the practical application, the talks of this groups were theoretical and mainly very boring. And the group which was mainly composed of Americans were very cliquish. They obviously knew each other well, and were very pleased to see each other again, but had no interest in extending their range of acquaintance to include Philip, Bill and James, The wives too were much less friendly than I've encountered before. I've always told everyone that American women were noted for their friendliness to newcomers, but I've had to modify my opinion somewhat. I was very please that Bett was there, or I would have felt a bit left out..
After the reception, Bill was determined to have some more to eat, altogether having had our big roast beef lunch, we would have happily foregone supper completely. But we let ourselves be talked into going to the Italian restaurant we'd by passed the day before and having pizza. They were enormous. I only managed about 1/3 of mine, which I ordered in French - Quatre Saisons, delicious though it was. Our meal was accompanied by Italian opera music and as before the waiter was friendly and helpful. Then happily home to bed.
We weren't kept awake by the nightclub on Sunday night, but we were awakened at 6.30 on Monday
morning by a noise that we though was pneumatic drills. It went on and on, so getting more sleep was impossible. We eventually found out that in fact it was high pressure water hoses, going down the street, washing all the previous days' grime off. No wonder the city always looked so clean and perhaps 6.30 is a normal waking up tine for Parisians.