Monday, December 12, 2005

See Ya!

Ahhhhh, freedom! Clem finally got on a plane and left this evening. This was only after his flight was delayed then cancelled then changed to a new plane. Mostly due to weather in McMurdo, this has been the typical state of affairs here for the last week or so. Weather, I learned today, is also the reason there are still grantees backed up in McMurdo who had left the Pole last week. Not only that but my December 16th flight to Christchurch has been overbooked by at least 20ish people! This could mean trouble, but priority seating is given to grantees so at least I’ll probably get on a plane before some of the Raytheon personnel.

I also got word today that I will be allowed to leave Pole a day early on Wednesday. While this isn’t much earlier, it might be my salvation in the case of bad weather. If I get to McMurdo on Wednesday and then Pole flights are cancelled on Thursday I will certainly be a very happy person. If planes don’t fly from Pole on Thursday, then there is no way to make the Friday flight out of McMurdo and that’s the last flight till the 22nd. Well, of course flights can be cancelled on Wednesday and Thursday. Oh god, anyway this is all so complicated and unpredictable that there really is nothing you can do and no way of knowing what will be.

So, I’m at least happy to be on my own schedule again, no longer have to run after someone. Also, a lot was accomplished in the last 3 weeks so I am definitely feeling some sense of completion and satisfaction. I have a few things left to do tomorrow before I leave, but it’s definitely something I can get done!

Today was a pretty fun day and I spent most of it outside climbing around. The weather here (not at McMurdo …) the last 2 days has been nothing short of fantastic. Well, it wasn’t beach weather, but the temperature climbed to 3 degrees Fahrenheit, above zero, and with no wind! Man, I didn’t even have to zip up my coat or wear gloves! Of course I was still in double thick Carhart overalls with a fleece underneath. I guess I have gotten so accustomed to freezing at the very exposure to the air that it was fantastic to feel some air for a change.

We needed to make some measurements on the top edge of the ground shield that surrounds the telescope so I had to climb up a super high ladder and relay what I found by walkie talkie to someone controlling the telescope from inside. I get pretty scared of heights, but I managed to overcome for an awesome view of the station and the telescope. Here are some pictures I managed to snap while up top or during the rest of the day.

A nice view of where I work every day, the building near center, with the large wooden bowl on it the Martin A. Pomerantz Observatory (MAPO). That’s where QUaD is, in the bowl (ground shield).

This is a view of the telescope when it is pointing to the horizon. Obviously it can’t see that low because the ground shield blocks its view. The actual limit of its view in elevation is about 45 degrees but it is not limited in azimuth.

This is a view over the lip of the telescope’s ground shield, probably something like 4 stories or more above the ground. This is by far the highest view from a building down here, if you can get on top of a crane (and some have) you can get a little better view. The white structure to the right is a hot water drill. Its used to make holes for inserting a string detectors that are part of a particle experiment called “Ice Cube”. Ice Cube because these strings of detectors go 2.5 kilometers into the ground over an area 1-kilometer square. This makes a kilometer cubed giant ice cube under the South Pole!

You might also want to check out this panoramic photo … go to and look at the groundshield_pan**.jpg files!

From left to right, John Kovac, Stanford graduate student Ed Wu and Clem Pryke. Clem is of course my advisor and John was once a student at UofC and now a postdoc at CalTech. John and Clem worked together to put up the original DASI experiment.

That me, in perspective.

The telescope!

Making the measurements from way up high.


Anonymous jstrysko said...

Well, buddy, it's time to have a break-out session and make a list of all the lessons you have learned. Yes, wonderful life-lessons.

I'm sorry to say that Chicago has been so freaking cold that it won't be much of an improvement for you. I moved your car on Friday night. A diet coke can had exploded in the back. I removed most of the shards of the can and the diet coke, don't be surprised if you smell the ethereal essence of coca-cola haunting the back seat of your car. It took me, no joke, an hour to shovel the car out. Some passers by had to help me push it. But it's on 56th right now, right on the corner of dorchester.
Anyway, I have the keys, and I'll be back on the 2nd.
Looking back, we may have regrets, like maybe the south pole wasn't all that you thought it would be, or maybe Zarah and I should have never moved the car in the first place, but we have become stronger people in the process. And so I rise...

Well, have a safe trip to Lord of the Rings land and fudge cottage, or whatever that place is. Remember: I want just one south pole rock. Maybe you could swallow one and then deficate it out when you come back. It could be my key to an ebay fortune!
So I guess, I should have just emailed you instead of taking up all of you blog, but I guess I have come to understand this as place to spaz--a sort of safe haven for spazzers, if you will.
And so I spaz, and so I spaz.

3:17 PM CST  
Anonymous Iggy said...

Yo. Glad to hear you're wrapping up you most excellent adventure.

Just wanted to let you know that your sno-cone is now famous: we had a conference in Chicago on cosmological matters and Sarah Church used a picture of the cone to show off QUAD and other south pole experiments.

I think you can treat that as a citation.

Good luck in getting back mate.

8:38 PM CST  

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