Italy ... Italy ... what are you going to do in Italy? @reggaemuffin and me arrived in Florence on the 19th of September, one day before the official 2<sup>nd</sup> [steemSTEM meetup](https://steemit.com/fundition-ffdnxgdga/@steemstem/meetup-activity-announcement-and-participants) at Virgo in Pisa. Together with @egotheist, the first thing we did was eat. And oh, [did we eat](http://www.lacantinettafirenze.com/)! ![IMG_20180919_222306_Bokeh.jpg](https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQmPbqkxEeGG79o9RN235q2cmbP2gov4q6N5pZRJLAR9UFL/IMG_20180919_222306_Bokeh.jpg) ![IMG_20180919_224749_Bokeh.jpg](https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQmc9uuQgHgyDpkTVbVMRXCr4YrQh5HfY3XkJKS6X2HXxB5/IMG_20180919_224749_Bokeh.jpg)<sub>I love how panna cotta wobbles ...</sub> ![IMG_20180919_224758_Bokeh.jpg](https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQmbWQfV73kKRrepPaMLBMdUbNESf5QJwMmEixe9bpAe436/IMG_20180919_224758_Bokeh.jpg) On the next morning, I first met with @alexdory for some breakfast and Steem talk. Meeting him again after seeing him in [Romania](https://steemit.com/travel/@suesa-random/by-train-through-europe-13th-august-sibiu) in August was awesome! The evening was, again, reserved for good food and meeting people, this time all of the steemSTEM participants, as the utopian team was still wrapped up in their hackathon. Seeing all those faces was exciting. I already knew several of them from [the last meetup](https://steemit.com/steemstem-meetup/@suesa/the-steemstem-meetup-at-the-lhc-my-recap), but there were new people too. @robotics101 supplied everyone with personalized steemSTEM rocket badges. You can buy a version with a backlight [here](https://steemit.com/steemstem/@steemstem/the-steemstem-badges-are-out). !(https://steemitimages.com/0x0/https://i.postimg.cc/wvznjZPn/badges.png)<sub>© @robotics101</sub> Satisfied by the huge amount of food, we all left the restaurant rather late, looking forward to the main attraction the next day. ![IMG_20180920_193407.jpg](https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQmVxJ2HsFvBnEPbXpP7BNGgSgTkLRR2bcckyQ3C7zWDcQm/IMG_20180920_193407.jpg)</sub>Omnomnom!</sub> At 9:30 (and 9:50 ... and 10:40, Italian traffic is the worst) in the morning, all participants arrived at the site of Virgo. Dr. Nicolas Arnaud gave us a short introduction to what Virgo actually does (find material to that [here](https://events.ego-gw.it/indico/conferenceDisplay.py?confId=71)) ![IMG_20180921_101025.jpg](https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQmTdYnjJaWrMAHoSgB9pUWAvF7cF7zdkzMk7GLY23N3wVC/IMG_20180921_101025.jpg) This introduction was followed by a very interesting lecture by Dr. Valerio Boschi, who went more into detail about what they're trying to do, and how. I must confess, as a biologist, I don't know that much about physics. From my experience at CERN, I was already slightly worried I might feel like the dumbest person in the room again. But to my absolute delight, Dr. Boschi was able to break the subject down in such a way that I left feeling like I got at least the basics. Even though there was some confusion when he started a metaphor during which he told us to *"eat the universe"*. Turns out he actually said ***heat***, which makes significantly more sense. The lecture was followed by a tour through the facility, during which we not only got to see the two "arms" through which the laser is sent, but were even allowed to see the room where the signal is received, and the place where the work of analyzing the data is done. ![IMG_20180921_115604.jpg](https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQmPbg9SAmu2gj1tyuPrK8uxCCPg3mggoYBU9UNALi9ijqj/IMG_20180921_115604.jpg)<sub>Miniature version of the setup to detect gravitational waves. A laser is split into the two "arms" and then reflected back. Through physics, the two light waves cancel each other out, which leads to the detector not seeing anything. If a gravitational waves happens to pass by, it deforms the mirror by an amount that is so tiny I have no words for it. But it's enough to change the wave, which creates a signal. If you want a more accurate description of the process, I'm sure someone will post about it - or it is online. This was just the very, very basic breakdown.</sub> ![IMG_20180921_121107.jpg](https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQmTNeJCGFxZJ64kmqnPjqpeegSLjo8GZntf3xDwy7L4bRB/IMG_20180921_121107.jpg)<sub>Shhh! Smart people at work. Didn't want to disturb them, so I chose to photograph the screens instead.</sub> ![IMG_20180921_121447.jpg](https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQmdG7FyWgj2uTF2ym51ngpPt2peHJN4LqJ9RYvRpRbykTd/IMG_20180921_121447.jpg)<sub>The participants, on their way to greatness.</sub> ![IMG_20180921_121517.jpg](https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQmZNEzth6u6gUMCHGwDMDwyjyP7s5QG7QPxwcNQyLCqrUy/IMG_20180921_121517.jpg)<sub>One of the arms from the outside ...</sub> <center>![IMG_20180921_122626.jpg](https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQmQMaTnvnZpCcLuHC5DtQpbmurPypqF2cLPUTP89QS2cWQ/IMG_20180921_122626.jpg)<sub> ...and the inside!</sub></center> <center>![IMG_20180921_123350.jpg](https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQmUacCn62i8gf9nopikpmK8zZdUkUrJaPLiUEdrSqDHnZG/IMG_20180921_123350.jpg) <sub>Cable management looked better at cern tbh.</sub></center> ![IMG_20180921_123520.jpg](https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQmSF9sB5A18Hq2jzVbDsyMsYdSMThMWWfPxDE3cvhps9g9/IMG_20180921_123520.jpg)<sub> This is where the ~~magic~~ detection happens! I felt reminded of a milk factory.</sub> ![IMG_20180921_123533.jpg](https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQmdMxp4WPjzeF5HQbjLkYzG6Ak251T3sYUpg6rNrDVyrmy/IMG_20180921_123533.jpg)<sub>...duh.</sub> The tour was concluded with a Q&A, which gave us the chance to ask the _really_ important questions. Like: "What are sources for background noise and how do you get rid of it?" (Seismic activity, ravens picking at ice on some structure. The structure is now protected from ice. The things you don't consider ...), "What language is your code written in?" (So many), "What's your favorite superhero?" (Batman). ![IMG_20180921_130712.jpg](https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQmNeJT61FBJKbwRJgdiu4KjXznCrxNANkSuz4j6xs1FR9X/IMG_20180921_130712.jpg) The visit was concluded with lunch from the canteen. It was a nice lunch. ![IMG_20180921_140027.jpg](https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQmRAqDG2mFSuquuhupJz5mJPFSSLWJDp3YXHQLmtWhy4QW/IMG_20180921_140027.jpg) But the day wasn't over yet, oh no! Together, we headed for Pisa, where we split into groups to check out the city a bit, until we met up again for dinner. ![IMG_20180921_155827.jpg](https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQmcYidP8d9NVva797R5BrfN5FFTUimiKAMTSQZUibmCzK2/IMG_20180921_155827.jpg) ![IMG_20180921_161446.jpg](https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQmekwCzMHk2vVqfZA1VVzapZKKNYJeiSJJLnGDVvfgrAPJ/IMG_20180921_161446.jpg)<sub>Is it just me or is everything here slightly ... tilted?</sub> ![IMG_20180921_190224.jpg](https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQmaQTCk7Pa6THLhzSoedrKrmQmBPMv59BM44KxMtDnA8Sa/IMG_20180921_190224.jpg) ![IMG_20180921_194814.jpg](https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQmdoxPgRjGwr4nUAyt5uf96ZnLKJC6wJxzurbyfSXEGcBF/IMG_20180921_194814.jpg)<sub>3 kinds of cheese, and mushrooms, in case you wonder.</sub> Contrary to our original plans, we didn't end up eating the vegans, and everyone was able to return to their accommodations safely. On the third, and last day, those who hadn't left Italy yet met again for lunch, followed by a visit to the Museum of Natural History in Florence. ![IMG_20180922_160311.jpg](https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQmVNZUqaSN8Z9uFNX4KB6bjkFqFkp3Bnf34PXCjdfefurP/IMG_20180922_160311.jpg) ![IMG_20180922_160538.jpg](https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQmVmuA6hWMtP9PX8QmE31iTRrthAX6MyRXqMpEfg9HQN5H/IMG_20180922_160538.jpg) ![IMG_20180922_161759.jpg](https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQmPYmhp4gg9HLoy1A9b5pTJrapYSjhY4Pk6DYzw2522A9W/IMG_20180922_161759.jpg)<sub>SO FLUFFY</sub> As all evenings before, the last one was dedicated to the final dinner together. ![IMG-20180922-WA0011.jpg](https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQmQJFEjrBefFjJjnWfksTSs55Ayii5tio1nM91EWdDHd9Q/IMG-20180922-WA0011.jpg) ![IMG-20180922-WA0012.jpg](https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQmfG1UZW6fmsf4hC7xZvDiTBonAvcRK3fW3F9R1rpAiHeq/IMG-20180922-WA0012.jpg) I must say, I enjoyed this meetup greatly, even though I was a bit worried it might turn out super stressful, I had organized and planned it myself after all (shout out to @bendelgreco who called all necessary people!) In the end, it was all worth it and I am looking forward to the next meetup(s). Also to Steemfest! Will you meet me there? <center>![IMG_20180922_191543.jpg](https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQmScbsaoWnLmX74rLaQVcvn5WnB7B3Hw8UJXpb4K5LBGEQ/IMG_20180922_191543.jpg) <sub>The steemSTEM participants + @jedigeiss who insisted he's part of both sides :P I am the one taking the picture, but if you look closely, you can see my name tag on the wine bottle in the front. Technicaly, this is a picture of me!</sub></center> --- --- --- The only thing left for me was the flight back, for which I had to take two planes, one to Geneva and then one to Frankfurt. This gave me the chance to compare the snacks on Swiss and German airlines. ![IMG_20180923_114924.jpg](https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQmSS3DKNL3tsyogF73iHJU8enLzNwmfcassgD4PwdKutrq/IMG_20180923_114924.jpg)<sub>A piece of chocolate</sub> vs. ![IMG_20180923_151642.jpg](https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQmdMnqicirKyxVV4LHW41KTpdmC2cZq4NfbGR4ifnQ7K4X/IMG_20180923_151642.jpg)<sub>A sandwich with cheese</sub> I might have needed this in the opposite order ... ah well. Landing in Frankfurt was rough, and when I finally boarded the train home there were dark storm clouds lingering in the sky. ![IMG_20180923_191931.jpg](https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQmcpTHvchCTLrraGq3wYHeTjMjqMWsgettxdT1YuvC73Lf/IMG_20180923_191931.jpg) All in all, it took me a good 12 hours from leaving my accomodation in Florence to reach home ... next time I might just take the train. Still, I am glad to have been at this event! Looking forward to the posts of everyone else. @alexdory, @bendelgreco, @egotheist, @fredrikaa, @galotta, @lemouth, @monie, @nicniezgrublem, @reggaemuffin, @robotics101, @scienceangel, @sco, @xara , @amosbastian, @elear, @espoem, @icaro, @jedigeiss, @jestemkioskiem, @ms10398, @poet, @sachincool, and @techslut it is your turn!