Last month's annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco drew an estimated 11,000 scientists, teachers, journalists and geophysics groupies. The schedule of talks could be found in a bound volume as thick as a phone book. You never see a geophysicist in ordinary life, but apparently the world is crawling with them.
They came to talk about everything from the ozone layer to the big wad of iron at the center of the Earth. Also about other planets. And magnetic fields. Solar wind. Water on Mars. To be at this convention was to be immersed to the eyebrows in scientific knowledge. It is intellectually fashionable to fetishize the unknown, but at AGU, a person will get the opposite feeling—that science is a voracious, relentless and tireless enterprise, and that soon there may not remain on this Earth an unturned stone.