Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Exhale

"You sense there's a purpose
Of a higher life
A force in your heart
As if you were revived
Brand new grounds to explore
Before the night arrives"
- "Exhale" by Amaranthe

It is 8:00 pm, and I am still in my office. Out my window, Water Street is dark except for the glowing arched windows atop the Bigelow Laboratory. The cleaning crew has come and gone. As I scoot my chair away from the wide blue computer screen, I exhale deeply for the first time in hours.
Victory for Coding Kirstin! This figure shows how much
time larvae spent in different parts of the water column.

I've been working furiously all day. I'm analyzing data using a code-based statistical program called Matlab, which I can only access at the lab. Normally, that wouldn't be a problem, but there's a massive snowstorm predicted to hit Cape Cod tomorrow. We're supposed to get 8" (20 cm) over the course of the day, and it's obvious that nobody will be able to come to work. So I'm packing as much pre-Matlabbed data onto my laptop as possible - that way, I can mess with the numbers and make graphs while I'm snowed in tomorrow.

I've always loved the process of data analysis, of taking a massive matrix and whittling it down to a few meaningful patterns. Now that I have some momentum going in Matlab, I have to admit, it's kind of addictive. The program is incredibly powerful. I'm harvesting parameters from the data and converting them into graphs. I'm exploring differences between the experimental treatments. I still have no idea what the data mean, but I'm sure the story will begin to emerge as I work.

For now, it is time to exhale, and get home before the snow starts.

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