The day before... no, not Christmas, ICHEP. As usual just before the premiere, everybody starts being quite hectic: the speakers, the organisers, and the airports. Well, actually, not so much for the latter, since we have a strike from air controller today -- which however should remain limited (so they say on the radio this morning). Let us hope that everybody arrives safely (if late) at their hotels.
Obviously, the last days before the opening are quite tense for the organisers. There is all the preparation of the material (bags, programmes, goodies, computers, cameras...) and its installation on the venue, rather obviously. But it is not the end of the story, far from that. With the help of the conveners, you have to fix the last details of the schedule --and with three days of 6 parallel sessions running at the same time, you are bound to encounter some unexpected troubles : a thousand people starts being a large statistical sample, with rare events (cancellations, changes of speakers...) occurring more often than you would expect naively.
Last but not least : check that each presenter will upload his/her talk on time, so that each session runs smoothly and without delays... I guess that this taks will keep us quite busy during a good part of the conference, especially during the parallel sessions where the organising committee will have to be delocalised over different parts of the Palais des Congrès. It is actually a general rule : the organisers spend half of their own conference out of the rooms where physics is discussed, because they have to sort out all kinds of last-minute small issues...
But I can always day-dream and assume that everything is so perfectly organised right now that I will be able to sit down, relax and enjoy the conference as any participant will. What would I pick for the parallel sessions, in addition to the talks directly related to my own work ? Obviously, some of the LHC talks. I bet that I will get out of the room with the comforting impression that the LHC experiments have started understanding the details of their detectors and of the Standard Model physics that they will have to fight against as a background for their studies. But that should not go beyond that. I will definitely go and listen to the CDF/D0 talks, even though I had already information in smaller workshops on the flavour-related results that we discussed here some time ago. I will add theoretical works beyond the Standard Model, and a couple of other talks from experiments out of my field, just to get recent news from neutrinos (Miniboone, Minos...) or from astroparticles (Fermi...). After all, the whole point of these big-scale conferences consists in listening to talks that you would not go to in more topical conferences, devoted to one or two precise subjects !
Since I am of a rather pessimistic nature, I preferer to keep my expectations low. This is the best policy to be surprised happily by the unexpected rather than disappointed by something too much awaited. Therefore, I do not expect outstanding surprises from all these talks. But who knows ? I might easily be proven wrong here. And even if we do not get striking news from the LHC, or from other experiments, there are plenty of ways for a conference to be surprising, if not on Thursday (for the beginning of the parallel sessions), maybe on Monday (for the official opening of the conference) !
Let's the fun start !