Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Centrifugal force

With a flurry of color and a mechanical click, the Endlessly Rotating Wheel of Chaos comes alive and rotates once again. I feel like a contestant on The Price is Right, pulling down on that wheel with all my might, clapping my hands, and getting slightly dizzy as I watch it spin.

The wheel is speeding up. Colors fly past my face. The gold numbers are no longer legible, and the glitter paint is just a blur. The projects rotate endlessly. Shipwrecks, dropstones, thesis. Shipwrecks, dropstones, thesis. Shipwrecks, dropstones, thesis, onuphids. Onuphids, dropstones, thesis, shipwrecks. Cape Arago! Shipwrecks, dropstones, thesis.

Dizzy and bewildered, I peel my eyes from the Endlessly Rotating Wheel and find a spot on the wall to gaze. I've had enough; the wheel must stop. Blindly, I reach my hand out towards it, and -

The wheel stops. A project flies off, launched through the air, the victim of its own centrifugal force.

That's right, friends. Today, I was able to remove one of my many projects from the rotation by submitting a manuscript for publication. This is my dropstone project I'm talking about, the cornerstone of my thesis.

Rather than just cataloging what animals live on dropstones, I took a unique perspective with my analysis. I read a lot of literature on terrestrial island communities, and I compared the patterns I found in the dropstone communities to patterns that have already been observed on islands. Dropstones are, after all, essentially rocky islands in a sea of mud.

As it turns out, some of the same patterns are found in dropstone and island communities, but I think the mechanisms leading to those patterns aren't necessarily the same. Understanding dropstone communities is important because it shows how benthic organisms assemble on isolated habitats, and trust me, there are plenty of isolated habitats in the deep sea! I hope the reviewers and the editor of the journal agree so my paper will be accepted. We'll see what they say!

Alright, now back to the next project in the wheel.

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