No expense spared: the Janacek Chamber Orchestra
By Matin Durrani
To adapt the immortal words of the singer Billy Bragg, if you’ve got a gravy train, I want to be on it.
It was in that spirit — and the quest for journalistic truth of course — that I accepted an offer from the European Commission for Physics World to go on an all-expenses trip to its 2009 Research Connection conference in Prague in the Czech Republic. The country currently holds the rotating presidency of the European Union.
The offer looked too good to refuse with over 1500 European researchers convening on the Prague Congress Centre for an event designed to showcase the best of European research funded by the Commission’s massive €50bn, seven-year Seventh Framework research programme.
Two nights in the luxury Corinthia Towers hotel didn’t sound too bad either.
Clearly the Commission is not short of cash – it has invited about 100 other journalists from across Europe to attend as well – and laid on a concert by the Janacek Chamber Orchestra at Prague’s Municipal House last night, followed by a lavish “cocktail dinner”, which was a kind of topnotch buffet.
I was taken to the venue by the very kind physicist Jan Stoeckel, former head of the Institute of Plasma Physics at the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague. He had shown me round the COMPASS fusion reactor earlier in the day, which I’ll say more about in my next posting.