A Major Nuclear Conference is Postponed
I should have known that, in our highly interconnected world, the recent coronavirus outbreak would start hitting in unexpected places. COVID-19, as it is officially called, originated in Wuhan, China, a place that not many people I know have ever visited. So initially, it seemed remote. A serious disease, to be sure, but, I assumed, not one that most of us had to worry about.
Pretty quickly, though, that perspective was shattered. More people than I'd guessed did visit Wuhan, and people from Wuhan traveled to other places as well, so the disease started to appear in spots all over the globe. Furthermore, with so many manufactured products coming from China, reports of impacts on numerous industries began to surface. This was followed by rumblings that there would be effects on the stock market--effects that we saw realized in the past few days.
And then, the impacts of the virus hit even closer to home. We learned that one of our relatives was on the Westerdam, the Holland America Line ship that wandered around the Asian waters for days trying to find a port that would allow them to land. Even though, as it turned out in the end, the one report of a case of the virus on that ship was false. Our relatives are home safely now, but not before enduring a lengthy and uncomfortable ordeal.
But still, it was only February, so events that were scheduled to take place a couple of months from now were not on my radar screen. Thus, I was not prepared for a message from the Mexican organizers of the upcoming Pacific Basin Nuclear Conference (PBNC) that was scheduled to be held in Cancun in late April. The message proposed to the Pacific Nuclear Council (PNC), on which I serve, that the conference should be postponed. Surely, I thought, this outbreak would be contained and everything would be fine by then. However, the PBNC specifically focuses on countries in Asia and the Americas, and with the number of cases still growing in China and South Korea, and with speakers and attendees needing to make travel plans, it became clear that the success of the conference was in jeopardy. A number of potential speakers and attendees might not even be able to leave Asia. Others might be exercising caution and restricting all foreign travel.
Clearly, the appropriate thing to do was to postpone the conference, and the organizers did so. The new dates are October 18-22. The place is the same (Cancun, Mexico). Hopefully, the virus will have been contained by then and the conference will be able to take place and will be a success. In the meantime, the conference organizers have extended the paper submission dates, so I'd like to encourage people to consider submitting papers and to plan to attend in the fall. It is one of the major international nuclear conferences, and attracts attendees from around the Pacific Rim and elsewhere. The resort venue is an added attraction. I commend the Mexican Nuclear Society for their decision to postpone the conference and wish them a highly successful conference in October.