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The Trouble with Tribble Tosses

Damage to corridor 6, evac immediately

This weekend we went to the first-ever SpaceUp DC, an unconference for space nerds, by space nerds, held at GWU in Washington, DC. We're curious about the universe around us, and Timmy's still on a mission to get into space, so we thought it best to attend.

Some freebies--including 147 blood-thirsty tribbles--tagged along.

O hai that's us

Because it was an unconference, attendees were charged with determining the schedule, and it was cool to see "Games! Prizes! ThinkGeek!!" scrawled on the big white board for 1pm, but we weren't sure exactly sure what to expect.

Good thing they were such a nice bunch of people. It always amazes us how friendly and helpful and genuine geeks are, and SpaceUp DC was no exception. We watched a few Ignite sessions on what's coming up at NASA and then prepared for an innocently-conceived tribble toss.

We herded our 147 shrieking, vibrating tribbles into two piles, one at each end of a hallway, and put a line down between them. Then we split the attendees into two groups and explained that we'd give them 2 minutes to gently toss their tribbles onto the other's team side. The team with the least amount of tribbles at the end of two minutes would win.

As you might suspect, this quickly led to aerosolized tribble fur, bruises, and our apologies. At least now we know what a tribble fight looks like: ANARCHY.

At the end, the team on the right side of the hallway won the chance to choose tribbles, which were--surprise!!--filled with Geek A Week cards or a little voucher for another prize.

Luckily we had time to catch @NASA_SDO's discussion on the public perception of science. They threw together a quick experiment on where they asked passersby on the national mall what they thought about a handful of photos, including a space view of Earth, two scientists, the Solar Dynamics Observatory, and other images having to do with space, science, and nerdery. Then they presented the same images to the SpaceUp DC attendees.

Here are a few of the word clouds their survey generated, with the public response on white and the SpaceUp DC folks on black.

SpaceUp DC

The results were interesting: the space insiders tended to use jargon on images of space and equipment, which wasn't surprising, but also seemed to have less of an emotional reaction overall (except for with the scientists themselves). The conclusion from the discussion was that the public seems to have an interest in space and science--judging from "cool" and "fun" for the "Science is..." image--but doesn't seem able to identify with actually participating in science. Food for thought for those education-minded geeks out there.

We'll likely not do a tribble fight again, but it was a fun experiment and we'd like offer our thanks (and condolences) to those that participated, especially the space tweeps (like @cariann @spacesherpa @flyingjenny @spaceupdc @tim846 @VAXHeadroom @phalanx @astrogerly) we finally got to meet IRL. We hope to see you at the next SpaceUp DC, and we'll try to think of something less tribbling for 2011.

[ post a comment ]


meaningless icon! We LOVED having you! I think my bruises are almost healed :-)
Dizee said this 3092 days ago.
meaningless icon! I was there! And it was scary! But also, super, super fun. It was great meeting the mad-geniuses behind ThinkGeek! Thank you guys so much!
JewelD said this 3092 days ago.
meaningless icon! interesting words associated with Scientist..."hot", "babe", "peptobismol"
disposablehero85 said this 3092 days ago.
meaningless icon! disposablehero85- LOL... um, good point.
JewelD said this 3092 days ago.
meaningless icon! "We'll likely not do a tribble fight again…" Awww. I was really hoping we could do something similar at SpaceUp San Diego in January! Any chance of melee-tribble development in the future? :)
chris_radcliff said this 3092 days ago.
meaningless icon! Chris_radcliff, it's unlikely. We were burning through a massive pile of Tribbles we had in the office and they're mostly gone now, and people actually got hurt during the fight, so we're less inclined to recommend it. Then there's the part where the Klingons felt left out. (Sorry, guys!)
CarrieGouldin said this 3092 days ago.
meaningless icon! Sorry I missed that. Sadly, with one player and two tribbles... tribble fights are just not the same.
Sarah82 said this 3092 days ago.
meaningless icon! I was one of the more severely injured but I still say the tribble toss was one of the highlights of an incredible weekend. Thank you so much for joining us and all the wonderful prizes! My tribbles are purring away as I type... :) Really great to meet you, too!
CraftLass said this 3092 days ago.
meaningless icon! I was there with my mother! It was great fun...I was laughing the entire time. Oh, I didn't know until that day...tribbles really do have hard insides. :P
arma358 said this 3092 days ago.
meaningless icon! I left the Tribbles in the office and took the day off. If you hadn't gotten them neutered, perhaps we'd have enough by next week for our own fight!
saram said this 3091 days ago.
meaningless icon! That looks like fun...
Burden said this 3091 days ago.
meaningless icon! So THAT's what happened to all the Tribbles that were put in Matt's office back in March...
Nefenjo said this 3083 days ago.

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