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Emily LakdawallaJanuary 7, 2014

It's that time of year again: Happy LPSC deadline day, and happy haiku

Today was the deadline for scientists to submit abstracts to the 2014 Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC). An "abstract" is a summary of the science you intend to present at the meeting. But LPSC abstracts are special. For most conferences, abstracts are quite short, barely a paragraph. But for LPSC, abstracts can be two pages long, with figures and references -- they are mini-papers. Therefore, LPSC requires attendees to summarize their science summaries in a sentence or two. This summary-of-a-summary is necessary but it does seem a little silly to be writing a summary of a summary, so a tradition has developed among some scientists (begun by Alan Trieman in 2001) to have a little fun with them and write the meta-summaries in haiku form.

I've written about LPSC abstract haiku before, and collected a few, but after seeing the success of the new "LOL my thesis" Tumblr it occurred to me that Tumblr was a perfect tool to use to collect LPSC haiku. Tumblr is a sort of micro-blogging site, and it's common to create Tumblrs on a narrow theme (like, say, Robot Shaming). It's a great tool to collect LPSC haiku because I can outsource the collection work to the authors of the haiku themselves: Tumblrs can optionally allow outsiders to submit entries. So today I created lpschaiku.tumblr.com and invited scientists to submit their abstract haiku, either from this year or from previous years. I've already received two dozen responses! Here are a couple of favorites:

Icy conditions
Dunefields explode seasonally
Furrows curve gently

Bourke and McGaley-Towle, 2014/2716: “Latitudinal Variation of Sand Furrows in the North Polar Region of Mars”

Melt rock held hostage
Escapes from crater prison
Over rim crest low

Neish et al., 2014/1159: “Global Distribution of Lunar Impact Melt Flows”

A giant impact
The core dynamo pauses
Slowly, it returns

Roberts and Arkani-Hamed, 2014/1161: “Impact Heating of Mars: Coupled Mantle Dynamics, Core Cooling and Dynamo Activity”

Finally, this one made me laugh out loud:

Oh martian gullies
Global mapping suggests that
[results embargoed]

Harrison et al., 2014/2124: “Global Mapping of Gullies with the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Context Camera (CTX) and Implications for Their Formation”

Go check out the LPSC haiku Tumblr to read many more!

LPSC 2014

Read more: fun, conference report

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Emily Lakdawalla

Senior Editor and Planetary Evangelist for The Planetary Society
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