Another mushroom-rich breakfast, another day at the EasterCon.
In Quintic Equations: Symmetry and Tragedy, Nicholas Jackson gave one of his famous talks on mathematics and mathematicians. Here he went through the history of the roots of polynomials, where everyone seems to die tragically early, culminating in, but not restricted to, Abel (26) and Galois (20). The surface moral might be “don’t work on polynomials!”, but the deeper moral, from the ridiculous and tragic stories around the discoverers of the cubic and quartic solutions, is “competition is a really really bad way of discovering new knowledge”. (I suggested: we want to stand on the shoulders of giants, not cut them off at their knees.) University funders, take note.
Next, Sarita Robinson discussed The Psychology of Dr Who. She linked regeneration and teenage psychology, given the violence of the associated emotional and physical changes. Teens exhibit poor judgement and risk taking, because their brains are still developing: they find it difficult to keep track of multiple thoughts and consequences, and difficult to access critical memories and emotions for informed decision making. She also discussed the qualities needed in a companion: not neurotic (capable of doing more than screaming!), extrovert, trusting, and open to new experiences.
Herr Döktor was interviewed about the steampunk gadgets he crafts. And then Seanan McGuire ran a Q&A session. It had all the usual things: how to pronounce her other name (Mirr-ah, not MY-ra); frogs; how to kill everyone on the planet with a designer virus; newts; how one of her Maine Coon cats snuck into her luggage, which she didn’t discover until on the plane. I was laughing so hard I couldn’t breath. “I am exaggerating for effect, but probably not as much as you think.”
In The Day They Launched a Woodpecker, Jerry Stone told many anecdotes of the early days of rocketry, with clips. (No woodpeckers were harmed during this talk.)
Mancunicon won the bid for EasterCon 2016 (wow, it’s seventeen years since the last EasterCon in Manchester; it feels like only yesterday!), and Pasgon in Cardiff for 2017. We bought memberships. We also bought pre-supporting memberships for the Helsinki bid for WorldCon 2017. I’d love to go to Helsinki for a WolrdCon!
The day concluded with an item on the recent Hugo Award nominations. “A political act needs to be met with a political response.”