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Showing posts from January, 2019

Thermal shock experiment: part 4

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Friends, it is nearing the end of my current travels in Norway, and I can report some of the results of my personal thermal shock experiment . The Arctic winter doesn't actually feel that cold anymore! I acclimated after just a few days, despite having so recently been in the tropics . The human body is resilient, and to be perfectly honest, I prefer this temperature. The conference I'm attending, Arctic Frontiers, is really two conferences in one. The Policy section during the first two days attracts politicians, diplomats, businessmen, and bureaucrats. The Science section during the last two days is frequented by researchers and academics like myself. Gone are the security guards; gone are the three-piece suits. The conference is now more my speed. I've compared conferences to  family reunions before , but this one feels a bit different. Even though the politicians have gone, the conference subject matter is still pretty broad - everything from social science to the e

Thermal shock experiment: part 3

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Stepping off of the steamer Finnmarken , we stood on the snowy dock in Tromsø. I took a breath of the crisp Arctic air and felt the sense of deep relaxation that always fills me at the poles . I have been to Tromsø so many times over the last 8 years that I've lost count, and I always look forward to seeing the city again. U.S. Senator for Alaska Lisa Murkowski speaking at Arctic Frontiers The Emerging Leaders workshop is affiliated with the Arctic Frontiers conference that takes place in Tromsø every year. After traveling up the coast from Bodø, my fellow participants and I were invited to attend the first two days of the conference, which focused on multi-sector challenges in the Arctic. Sessions on geopolitical issues were followed by discussions on methods for international cooperation. Speeches about economic development were followed by panels on the best strategies for environmental sustainability. It was actually very different from most conferences I attend, which

Thermal shock experiment: part 2

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I landed in Bodø around 4 pm, and the sky was already dark. I had crossed that great threshold, the Arctic circle. Making my way to the hotel, I remarked to myself how much Bodø resembled other Norwegian cities, with shops and white wooden houses lining the waterfront. I felt at home. Friends, I am participating in a workshop titled Arctic Frontiers: Emerging Leaders. It's designed to introduce early-career professionals with connections to the Arctic to some of the multi-sector issues in this region. There are participants from business, industry, government, humanities, and science. Cormorants in Lofoten To be honest, one of the most valuable aspects of the workshop for me is speaking to the other participants. In our group are two politicians who work to build up infrastructure and public services in high-north communities. There is a social scientist studying how people view the Arctic, a program manager for an oil company, and two participants from indigenous Arctic na

Thermal shock experiment

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I was sitting at a long wooden table in a straight-back wooden chair. I was wearing hiking boots, field pants, and a sweater. To my left, an impressively-sized painting depicted Viking warriors fleeing from an opposing army. To my right, a wide window showed a sweeping view of the city, fjord, and sunset below. In front of me, resting on the table, was a large white mug of cocoa and a slice of apple cake covered in homemade whipped cream. Friends, I am in Norway. Kristina and I at Frognersenteren, Oslo I’m not quite sure how wise it was to embark on a trip to the Arctic in winter after spending an entire month in the tropical Pacific , but I’m considering the trip my own personal thermal shock experiment. Let’s be honest, though: I love the Arctic more than anywhere else on Earth. My first stop was in Oslo, where my friend, Kristina, lives. She was a postdoc with me at WHOI and a frequent dive buddy , but she has since moved back to the University of Oslo to take ano

Coral crusher

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I selected Hanny's name and then typed with my thumbs on the screen of my cell phone: "Alright, I'm going to take a short break and then get back to crushing." Her text response came a few seconds later: "Metaphor for life!" A bit of coral tissue about to be crushed Friends, my first two weeks back at WHOI have been very full. I am now an Assistant Scientist (yay!), but to be honest, the past two weeks, I have felt more like a lab technician. As you may remember, Hanny and I collected  hundreds of coral samples  in Palau last fall. The quantitative part of our analysis involves population genetics - basically, examining the corals' DNA to see how their populations are connected. As you may imagine, extracting DNA from hundreds of coral samples is a tedious, repetitive process that takes a lot of time at the lab bench.  To start the process, I removed each sample from its tube, broke off a piece with a razor blade, and crushed it up. The