Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Botany 2007 in Chicago

I flew home on July 8th and left the next day for a short trip to Chicago to attend the Botany 2007 meeting. We met at the Chicago Hilton, which was conveniently located near the Field Museum. I spent a couple of hours over there before the ASPT banquet on Tuesday night. We had our banquet in the main area of the museum, which made for an interesting setting.

The walk across to the museum offered great views of the Chicago skyline.

This isn't the most scenic view one could ask for, but the trains are important to commuters in this region.

There was an interesting outdoor exhibit on the campus of the Field Museum, aquarium and art museum. I'm not sure how many of these globe sculptures were on display, but it seemed like there were about 50 or so - all done in different ecological themes.

It was pretty cool, and some of the sculptures were very, very clever.

There was a Darwin exhibit going on at the museum, but I missed it because I got there too late. They had recreated Darwin's study from Downe House. I didn't worry too much about missing the exhibit, since I've been to Downe House and have seen the original exhibit on display.

Here's a look at the skyline from the museum steps.

I had to choose one of the exhibits still open to quickly walk through and so I chose the Africa exhibit. It was an informative cultural exhibit, but the thing that stands out most for me was the one on musical traditions. This interesting instrument is played kind of like a plucked zither. There was a recording playing in the background.

Meet "Sue," the largest T. rex skeleton on exhibit.

The museum closed about an hour before the ASPT banquet and they herded us all outside. Unfortunately, a huge storm was approaching and so those of us waiting had to brave the rain and lightning from the overhang at the top of the museum steps.

It was rather strange, but interesting, to watch the lightning strikes on the tall buildings.

I sure didn't want to be out and exposed during this approach of the storm. I did enough storm chasing while a grad student to know how dangerous lightning is.

The lighthouse at the head of the harbor sure seemed exposed and lonely.

The storm front arrived. There was a lot of movement in those clouds - not circular, though. The wind came roaring in along with a heavy downpour.

The security guard finally felt sorry for us and let us into the building. We had about an hour of walking through one of the exhibits upstairs while imbibing liquid and eating appetizers before the program began.

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