24 November, 2001
Sorry for the mix-up. There was an entry here that was different than the one I'm writing now. I'll try to re-invent the events of 11/24. We outfitted ourselves with sleeping gear in "The Cage." Each member has a tent, sleeping bag, pack, pads to sleep on, emergency kit, harness (for climbing) and pillows, liners, etc. It is quite bulky. Again, thank goodness for helicopters.
We worked today on batteries, power control boxes, and other electrical details, and this was the substance of my original entry for 11/24. This is addressed to students:
If you want to be a geologist, take electrical engineering. If you want to be a chemist or biologist, take physics and math. The act of collecting data is very electrical. It is not my forte, but necessity is the mother of invention. Bill McIntosh reinvents the electronics used at the field sites frequently.
When I suggested to him that I was encouraging students to take electrical engineering, he agreed but added that simply tinkering--fixing cars, making things that work--really is the way to learn to make the things that you need to collect data. The tools that these scientists use rarely seem to come right out of a box. They are built.
Another compononent is the human interaction. My research students will appreciate this: Jesse Crain is a graduate student studying radioactive isotopes that are emitted in the gas plume from Erebus. She already has data from previous field experiences, but stated at the table last night, "I just can't seem to wrap myself around the data mathematically. I know it's just algebra, but I'm not seeing the message here." And Emily Desmerais (GPS specialist) said, "I'm minoring in math--maybe I could help." Dr. Jeff Johnson actually asked for my help in using PowerPoint for a talk he has to give on Sunday night. He's never used it before. I would dare say that many seventh and eighth grade students could have helped him just as effectively as I did. One to one is a very cool way to learn. And don't forget--as daunting as all those wires, capacitors, transistors, and boards look to me, I know that both you and I could learn this stuff if we had to. One step at a time. The bottom line: Don't sell yourself short by skimping on math or science. They have applications all over the place. And when you have questions, go ahead and read, but especially seek out someone who knows and talk to them.
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