Few months ago my supervisor told me that she could invite students to the symposium that she was invited to in Tokyo in January 2015. Then, she invited me! I was so excited! That symposium was the 3rd ELSI International Symposium.
My name is Patricia Hernández-Reséndiz and I am a graduate student doing my master in Astrophysics at the UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México). I am working in the experimental formation of chondrules to study the different proposed formation mechanisms. My participation in the ELSI Symposium was the first time that I presented my work at an international meeting in front of many astrobiology researchers.
Since the beginning the Symposium was interesting. On the first day, many topics were presented, like the habitable zone of exoplanets and the role of water, the importance of the Mg/Si ratio in planets with or without plate tectonics, salt from the Moon on Earth and the origin of organic molecules found in carbonaceous chondrites.
That first day, I presented my poster to all attendants; I was pretty nervous and anxious. Some researchers and students were interested in my work and approached me to get more details about it. This exchange was refreshing because explaining what I do helped me see new points of view, think in other ways about my work, identify finer points that need more care and, of course, meet important people that work in topics that are related to mine. An enriching activity in all ways!
The other days were marvelous too, talking and discussing topics such as DNA-RNA paradox, artificial intelligence and artificial life, the origin of life on Earth and other planets, possible unknown life forms and open-ended evolution, future space missions, possible inhabited candidate bodies in the Solar System, biosignatures and distinguish them of the geological processes, search habitable but not inhabited worlds, and many other topics. The symposium was so complete! In addition, members of ELSI always participated in each session with really good research.
On the second day there was a banquet in the ELSI building, another opportunity to meet other researchers, who were always friendly to us. In particular the members of ELSI were always helpful whenever we needed anything. The food was delicious, the ELSI building is beautiful, and the company was exceptional.
Finally, it is indispensable to talk about Tokyo, the biggest city in the world with really nice people everywhere. It is amazing that there are many places to visit and time goes so fast! My time in Tokyo was insufficient. But all places that I had the opportunity to visit were wonderful. Diversity is the word that defines the concept: history, tradition, nature, customs, holidays, movement, order, technology, fashion, beauty, malls, food, ... Tokyo is a unique city and visiting it is a stunning adventure!!