May 7, 2009
So the big buzz around station this morning was all about the Oprah interview! The entire reason that we were able to use Skype to connect with friends and family this week was because it was also being used for the interview with Oprah for a show that will air sometime at the end of this month entitled, "Where in the Skype are you?" The IT guys got the computer and equipment set up on the walkway between the GWR and Bio buildings with a view of Arthur Harbor to the north. This is probably my favorite view (however, there is not a bad view in any direction here!) because the glacier face contains all those wonderful colors of blue that fascinate me in the ice! Apparently the interview went well - Dr. Sidell and Neal were interviewed and some others got to be in the background.
In the lab, I was so excited because I was getting to assist Kristin and Lisa with their storage vials for the next dissection tissue samples. The vials had to be labeled, the data sheets had to be recorded and the utensils cleaned. Because the mitochondria are being retrieved, everything has to be extremely precise. Even when it is all done precisely, other things can cause the tests to go awry and then they have to problem solve, which can take hours out of their limited time for experiments. Lisa even taught me how to pipette and use the centrifuge and get the supernatant for one of her tests.
After lunch, I traveled up the hill past GWR to the last building before the "backyard" of Palmer Station, known as the triangle building or Terra Lab. Neal Scheibe works here doing a multitude of tests for absentee scientists. The majority of which are air quality related. Scripps Institute of Oceanography has a monitor for Changes in Atmospheric Oxygen, CO2 and Argon in Relation to the Carbon Cycle. It is amazing that carbon dioxide is a concern so far from any major sources of emission - our planet is truly a closed system. We are reminded of this fact even in Antarctica (especially when we find plastic bottles in our trawl catches that come up from the seafloor!). Another system that he is responsible for is the UV Monitoring or Ozone Hole Monitoring. From the diagrams, it appeared much larger than what I had seen on diagrams before. The diagrams and other UV levels are actually available for viewing on www.biospherical.com - UV levels at Palmer Station. As a "research associate," Neal also downloads the satellite imaging which helps to monitor weather systems and even remote weather stations that are run administered by University of Wisconsin (Antarctic Meteorological Research Consortium). Another really cool piece of monitoring equipment is called "VLF" for Very Low Frequency, which monitors disturbances in the ionosphere. These disturbances include lightning and solar flare detection. The sounds recovered by this mechanism sound like chirps and whistles. There is even a seismic computer, which prompted me to immediately ask if we were near a plate boundary? No (thank goodness - that would be an interesting factor with all of the ice around), but it is the only place around and when an earthquake occurs on different parts of the earth, at least three stations are required to pinpoint the epicenter of an earthquake. Another piece of equipment that was intriguing because the sign on it reads, "Do Not Open, Alarm Will Sound." This was the International Monitoring System (IMS) that is administered through Vienna, Austria as part of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. This machine detects radionuclide in the atmosphere. Neal also conducts air sampling for NOAA and there is a real time web cam viewing Palmer Station that is done by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institutes that can be viewed at http://4dgeo.whoi.edu/tsg - Check it out! Neal is responsible for a lot of equipment, but loves his job. Working for 6- 9 months in a beautiful area and then taking a few months to travel the world, sure is a great gig. Like many here on Palmer Station, he is a returning staff member because this is a great place to be and work!