Innovation in Materials Characterization Award Winner David Cahill
Women in Materials Science and Engineering Breakfast

Everything is Bigger in Arizona—Not Texas 

Whoever coined the phrase "Everything's bigger in Texas" must have never visited Arizona. I arrived at such a conclusion this morning in the Phoenix Convention Center's lobby when the largest bee I'd ever seen chased me away from my laptop. 

"What is that?" I cried as I did a frantic, crippled chicken dance in front of the Starbucks. My erratic gesticulations earned a few strange looks, but other than that, people remained composed—and seated. 

Now that I think about it, it probably did look like I was have a "reaction" to an illicit substance.

Suddenly, a concerned employee approached me with a confused expression obviously attributed to what she thought was the worst John Travolta Saturday Night Fever impersonation she'd ever seen in her life.  

"Are you okay?" she asked. 

By this point, I had lost the ability to speak and could only point in the direction of the offending creature as I ran around the lobby. Sadly, my dancing was so bad that it took the poor woman a few minutes to realize I was actually pointing at something instead of shaking my groove thang.  That said, I must say I gave a convincing performance of dropping it like it was hot. 

"It's a bee," an amused onlooker standing in the coffee line casually replied. 

"Then it must be full of steroids and taking growth hormones!" I managed to exclaim. My reply earned a few casual chuckles, but still no one came to my rescue. My only solution became clear: I had to fend for myself—whatever that meant.  

Despite the urgency of the situation, the event took me back to when I lived in Tucson and found a gargantuan scorpion perched on my bath towel after returning home from a trip. And as you may have guessed, that scorpion was much larger than any scorpion I'd seen in Texas, too. Fast forward nine years later, the Grand Canyon State has maintained its lead in providing a habitat for humongous creatures: Arizona's score: 2. Texas': 0. 

Luckily, the bee suddenly lost interest in my awkward dancing episode—much to my advantage. It flew across the balcony, allowing me to regain my composure and resume my work.  

Later, a security guard approached me about the ferocious flying arthropod. Apparently, the lady who'd approached me earlier had sought him for help. Unfortunately, I was so consumed by the fight for my life that I didn't even realize she'd left.  

While the security guard's valiant search for the fugitive produced no results, he assured me he would escort the bee to the door in the event it returned for an encore attack.  

Right now, the bee's whereabouts remain unknown; but given his astronomical size, I can assure you he is extremely easy to identify—and that you won't find him in the Lone Star State.



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