That's what you can be part of once a month at La Mirage Hotel in Cotacachi when Don Murphy of The Andes Institute hosts a fun and challenging conversational seminar about a variety of scientific topics.
We were excited as we drove towards the hotel that we’d heard so much about, with the peacocks, anticipating what the seminar may bring. Bob was anxious about getting good photos since it was a rainy, overcast afternoon and the light was fading fast. I was wondering how the seminar would proceed on one of my favorite topics, Quantum Computers, and what kind of crowd would be there.
As we pulled in past the wrought-iron gate and into the very small cobbled parking lot, we were surprised by the understated beauty of the entrance and greeted by a lovely, traditionally dressed indigenous woman who led us along the paths and gardens, passing a handsome peacock on the way to the meeting room. Bob was entranced by the beauty of the gardens, pathways, and buildings and was furiously trying to get some photos before we sat down for the seminar. As I appreciated the gardens and pathways, I was wondering where everyone was. Even though we have been here for over a year, I wasn’t sure how many people a science seminar would attract. Would we be the only ones? I couldn’t imagine that they would hold these seminars every month for over 5 years with no audience.
We entered the foyer, with its fern and candle decorations and were offered beverages (at an additional cost) and greeted by Loraine Murphy. She took our entrance fee ($5 per person) and informed us that we could sit anywhere. I was nervous because we were the first people there. But Loraine’s husband, Don Murphy, put us quite at ease by introducing himself and beginning some small talk. The fireplace was elegant and warm. The golden, wood plank floors, white walls, and intricate molding gave a crisp, high-class feel to the room. However, the projector and the two whiteboards made me feel more comfortable as though I had been transformed back in time to a discussion team room in the aerospace company I had worked for all those years ago.
As more people entered the meeting room, we introduced ourselves and listened to the interactions. Some newbies like ourselves and some who have been participating for a long time. Once everyone had a seat, with a total of 13 people, Don began by introducing himself and informing us of his history – an extensive career including laboratory work, many years as a Deputy Director of the National Park Service, and 15 years at the Aspen Institute before retiring to Ecuador. Don then asked us to introduce ourselves, which also made me feel comfortable since this was very common in my aerospace days.
Don then proceeded to provide a very interesting presentation which provided the terminology, background, theories leading up to the discussion of Quantum Computing, for anyone not possessing an advanced degree in physics. I was very appreciative of Don’s lead in to the topic since it had been years since I had studied any physics, even with my aerospace background. And the best part is that as he took us through the introduction to the subject, Don encouraged “Socratic” style conversation. This was outstanding. It was very fun to be part of a group of people that wanted to participate in controversial scientific topics and have constructive, intelligent conversation without feeling an ounce of judgement and partiality. Just open minds and positive discussion. The group spent a little over 2 hours wrapped up in discussions of the double slit experiment, measurement problem, wave particle duality, emergence, superposition, quantum biology (consciousness), logic, qubits, entanglement, and many more fascinating topics leading up to quantum computing and its potential uses.
And you didn’t have to be a rocket scientist to participate. Don explained everything in laymen’s terms and the conversations were such that everyone was encouraged to participate and learn more on their own outside the seminar. I found it to be reminiscent of my engineering days, without the pressure to solve the problem. It was fun! And I intend on participating in many more. If you want to keep up on technology, science, and other leading edge topics, I highly encourage participation in this unique discussion group. For just a small price of $5, you can enjoy the comfort of La Mirage, a very beautiful and exquisitely maintained hotel meeting room, the excitement of meeting like-minded individuals, and the opportunity to learn and understand more about some really cool current topics.
You can get more information about the Making Sense of Science Seminars and La Mirage below.
Making Sense of Science: https://theandesinstitute.com/seminars/
The Andes Institute: https://theandesinstitute.com/about/
La Mirage Hotel: http://www.mirage.com.ec/
Lynn, Bob and Niele