It seems that my subconscious hasn’t quite acclimatised yet, to the fact that I’m in a different country. Normally, if I was leaving for a conference in two days time, I’d be fastidiously organising, planning, and making arrangements. However, seeing as I’ve only been in Japan for a month and a half now, my brain still doesn’t quite realise that this is home and that going to other places (my country of origin included) are now considered to be “going away”.
I’ve also become quite good at rapidly creating research posters. Having done so a few times now in different places, printing a poster full of data and hypotheses and displaying it proudly somewhere it can be perused by eminent professors and timid PhD students alike is no new thing to me. And as always, somewhere in the back of my mind sits the question of, “what if they don’t like me taking this as hand luggage?”
Of course, there’s never normally any real problem. Even budget UK airlines will let me take poster tubes on their flying busses, and this time I’m travelling with Nippon Airways – in typical Japanese style, the most helpful and considerate airline I’ve ever flown with. Of course, even if it’s no problem, it’s still a pain having to lug a poster tube with me. Also, while I’m going to Taiwan, certain other countries I could mention seem to like destroying luggage which they consider unusual.
Of course, this is if you go with the standard paper-poster-in-plastic-tube that most researchers use. But a lot of people may not realise that this is not the only option we researchers have. Something which I really should do for my next conference is to have a fabric poster printed!
Consider all of the benefits here. No awkward poster tube. No hassle with airport security or check-in desks. No problem! To take your poster to the conference, you just fold it and put it into your suitcase with your clothes. There’s also the benefit that there’s no additional piece of luggage for a Spanish taxi to drive off with. I can only presume that poster is still somewhere in Madrid, and hope that the taxi driver learned something about density functional theory from it. While a hasty driver and sleep deprivation may make it easier to misplace extra luggage items, I think most people prefer to carry less hand luggage at the best of times.
The above image is courtesy of Gas Station Without Pumps, where you can find a full review of how these things fare. Apparently, some of them are crease resistant. Google will also throw you quite a number of print shops who will print fabric posters for you. Careful though, as some of them are excessively priced. I’d have had one printed myself back in July, if not for the fact that the University print shop was charging £80 for one.
Here’s hoping that if we all start using these, they’ll become both cheaper and more readily available. Seriously people, why are we still printing our research posters onto paper?