Thursday, January 3

All sorts of Mars related goings on these days; New Mars is going wonderfully well and I have a backlog of at least three articles, all of which are pretty great and definitely worth your while reading, so go and check the site in these next few days when they're phased in.

I'm also going to be attending the Mars Society UK Symposium in Milton Keynes on January 19th. I'm quite looking forward to this since it combines a number of good things: I'll be seeing some old friends, there'll be presentations about Mars by first-class speakers and there'll be an opportunity to do some serious hob-nobbing, networking, drinking and thinking during the weekend.

I've always enjoyed going to conferences. Of those that I've been to, most have exuded a charged aura of action and power. You really feel like this is really where the decisions are made and more importantly, where the decisions can be influenced. There's also the thrill of learning something new for the first time, a bit of privileged information.

So if you've got the weekend free and have at least a passing interest in Mars, I think it'd be a good idea to come along. Registration is cheap at 20 (10 for students) and in fact there is talk of setting up a competition that will as good as give away free tickets (this is unfortunately not something I can take advantage of since I'm supposed to be more responsible, being a member of the Steering Committee). Hotel accommodation is nearby and costs 50 per night - you can share rooms as well, lowering the cost.

I'm not just saying this because of my Mars interest, I really do believe that it'll be a great day. There are some decent speakers turning up who'll be giving talks suited to the general public - that is, not technical or specialised talks - and the number of attendees should be at a perfect size which allows decent discussion but also gives you the opportunity to have a chat with the speakers.

And if you needed any more persuading, I'll be there, selling Mars maps at the knock-down price of 15 for two!

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