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As loyal readers will know, getting to conferences is an intellectual challenge for me. Having worked out where and when they are to take place, the problems multiply. Travel must be arranged for both before and after the conference dates, which is difficult when the venue is in a different time zone, and even more difficult when I have to decide whether it will be easier to meet colleagues just before or just after the conference. Then I have to coordinate the hotel bookings with those choices. If there is a car to be booked then the calculations become even more complex, since it has to be returned in good time. Even setting meeting times during the conference becomes a puzzle. Some diary entries must be in London time as I agree future engagements, and some in Montreal time. What will happen when I put my phone on Montreal time? Should I correct the Montreal diary entries for whatever it does when I land in Montreal, or wait till I start missing appointments and then work out which reference frame to apply?

Then comes packing. Everything requires a charger, and since we do not have global agreements on outlet configurations, I have to face a Raven’s Matrix of random shapes, and remember that it is the input configurations I must match, not the output configuration on which I depend with my UK plugs. Worse, some places run their electricity at half speed, not an alluring prospect, which may blow up some devices. Canada has not chosen to declare what its electric outlets look like, for fear it would confirm that they are in North America, and who can blame them. They also have their own currency. Surely everywhere foreign should bow to the almighty dollar? That means changing money at London airport, where the concept of Canada will have to be explained to a skeptical teller, or changing money only once in Canada, where the concept of pounds sterling will have to be explained to an unsympathetic Quebecois, who may give me a punitive rate as retaliation for my imputed colonial crimes.

I will need to find the manual for my watch, so as to set that complicated device to another time zone, allowing for summer time, and without messing up the date. Toothbrush and shaver need to be charged, or a charger carried. Laptop likewise. I should pack some clothes, presumably, and a credit card. Nothing else. Perhaps a passport. Oh, and a special Electronic Travel Authorization, but I am sure that is just a formality and they will accept my sincere declaration that I have chosen to travel to Canada of my own free will, and not under duress.

The conference itself should be a doddle. The International Society for Intelligence Research will be meeting in Montreal this long weekend.

I will do my best to bring you a flavour of the research papers presented there, all 46 of them, so long as I can get all my electric plugs in line. Jim Flynn, David Lubinski and Camilla Benbow, Stephen Pinker, Doug Detterman, Toby Young from The Spectator and many others will all be there, including a good selection of those who presented at the London Conference on Intelligence in May, either presenting papers or standing by their posters. Topics will include Piaget and the Flynn Effect; mental ability and brain imaging; potential eminence charted over 45 years; broad cognitive ability predictors; test item analyses; publication bias in intelligence research; adult cognitive ageing; molecular genetics of educational attainment; Is social success shaped by our genes?; The P-FIT hypothesis evaluated over the last 10 years; measuring intelligence beyond brain games; evolution and ability; giftedness; and many, many others.

For those attending who do not know me, I will be the anxious guy near the front, trying to work out what time it is.

• Category: Science 
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  1. Peter C. says:

    What is this “watch” thing you speak of?LOL

  2. David says:

    Electricity at half speed, eh? I think you can eliminate that from your list of worries.

  3. D. K. says:

    If you turn your watch back exactly half a century, you will find yourself arriving and leaving, this weekend, just a little shy of the mid-point of Expo ’67! (Meanwhile, I will be playing second base for Williams Fuel Oil, on a Little League baseball diamond on the far westside of the City of the Century.) Happy Bastille Day!!

  4. OMG, you’re taking the mickey out of us, right?

    I might have thought so, but I have American colleagues who occasionally venture abroad and mouth some of these same concerns and criticims. You forgot to complain about foreign hotels not having bar soaps.

  5. dearieme says:

    Canada’s elec runs slightly fast (60 Hz vs 50 Hz) but lacks oomph (120 V nominal vs 230 V nominal). As you well know.

    • Replies: @David
  6. David says:

    Interesting understand of hertz. In that case, a lake with waves is fast compared to one without.

    • Replies: @dearieme
  7. dearieme says:

    “a lake with waves is fast compared to one without.” Of course it is. A waveless lake has a root mean square vertical velocity of zero. Dunnit?

    • Agree: David
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