SAN FRANCISCO — Fact: Geologists love beer.
There is abundant proof of this here at the American Geophysical Union meeting, the largest collection of earth scientists in the world.
The talks, workshops and poster sessions go from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.,
but at 3:30 p.m. every day, for five days, kegs of beer are rolled out into the meeting.
The beer flows nonstop for an hour and a half at around 10 different stations, and AGU organizers tell me they go through about 175 kegs during the week.
“Every other convention assumes that if you have a beer, your brain goes soft,”
said Kathy Sullivan, who has been serving beer at the AGU meeting for 26 years.
”But not the geophysicists. They think if you have a beer, you can still learn things.
So they do.”
At the Thirsty Bear, the closest brewpub to the Moscone Convention Center where the annual meeting is held every December, the waitstaff claims this is the busiest week of the year for them. I heard from the Borehole Research Group at the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory that one server at the Thirsty Bear said the staff can’t take vacation days during the AGU meeting ”because the geologists are coming.”
So the real question is why the bond between geologists and beer is so strong. I decided to do some research this week to get to the bottom of the phenomenon. So, beer in hand, I asked a sampling of the 16,000 or so geologists, geophysicists, hydrologists and atmospheric scientists at the meeting and got some very interesting responses. (Full disclosure: I am also a geologist, and I like beer.)