More than 10,000 take part in one of world's largest science gatherings

Washington, 21 February - More than 10,000 people took part in one of the world's largest science gatherings, the AAAS Annual Meeting, last week, absorbing all kinds of information at more than 120 symposiums, lectures and workshops. Running under the slogan Science Transcending Boundaries, this year's conference aimed to highlight the dangers of isolationism in science.

Margaret Hamburg, the president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), said the organisers had picked the slogan to encourage people to think about how science brings together people and ideas, and leads the way towards solutions for real or imaginary boundaries.

She said that the scientific community had to fight to avoid becoming a victim of the rising nationalism in the US and elsewhere. Science is an international effort and advances best through cooperation of the best and smartest minds from around the world, Hamburg stressed.

AAAS director Rush Holt said the association realised it had to promote diversity, encourage opportunities and shield science from prejudices to create environment where science could flourish.

The conference featured more than 120 events, ranging from symposiums and workshops to screenings of films and presentations of endeavours of organisations from around the world.

Special events were held to commemorate three significant anniversaries observed in 2019, the 150th anniversary of the periodic table, the 50th anniversary of the landing on the Moon and the 50th anniversary of the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET), an early packet-switching network and the first network to implement the TCP/IP protocol suite.

Other than that, a special space was allotted to families and children to get a hands-on feel for science.

The first AAAS Annual Meeting was held in Philadelphia in 1848. It is organised by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which publishes the peer-reviewed journal Science, as well as several offshoots such as Science Robotics.

AAAS is the biggest interdisciplinary scientific association in the world and aims to advance science, engineering and innovation through a range of programmes and initiatives.