Friday, February 27, 2009

Ready to Sail

It’s been a busy few days! Since I arrived in Manila on Tuesday, I’ve been working hard to set up my equipment for the cruise. I work with a system called ADCP, which stands for Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler. What does that mean?

Acoustic means having to do with sound.
Doppler has to do with the way sounds change pitch. I’ll explain more later, but the Doppler effect is also how speed guns work. The eight graders used those to measure the speeds of cars near DLMS, so the rest of you can ask them about that.
Currents are the movements of water in the ocean – remember the East Australian Current from the turtles in Finding Nemo.
Profiler means that it produces a profile of the whole water column, not just at a single depth.

By now you’ve probably noticed that there are lots of special names for things at sea. If I use a term that you don’t know, please ask me to define it.

At sea, I work with ADCPs that are mounted on the bottom of the ship, called SADCPs (for Shipboard ADCP) and ones that are lowered into the water with other instruments, called LADCPs (for Lowered ADCP). The SADCP system is easy to use; you turn it on at the beginning of the cruise and then just check it to make sure that it’s working. The LADCPs are a lot more work! They have to be turned off and on every time we put them in the water and they have very complicated wiring. That means when they don’t work, it can be very hard to figure out what’s wrong with them.

My friend Zach works with the LADCPs too. I work from noon to midnight and he works from midnight to noon. But when we’re still in port and at the beginning of the cruise, everyone is awake most of the time. We spent a long time together making the system work today and yesterday. Here is the completed setup:

Later, I’ll go through everything in this picture. For now, just notice the two yellow cylindrical machines – those are the LADCPs – and Zach.

Here’s the ship in port:

We should have left by now, but we don’t have permission to yet. This happens a lot, so we’re all trying to patient. I'll post again after we sail!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Hi everyone, and welcome to the blog! This is like the first day of school for me: I want to make a good impression, set some goals, and get settled into a new routine.

This blog is a way for all of us to communicate while I’m at sea. I’ll be showing you what it means to be a scientist at sea and working with your teachers so that you can be part of our science team. That means you’ll be analyzing data, making hypothesis, explaining results, and maybe even designing some experiments.

My goals while at sea
1. Post to the blog at least five days per week. I know that some posts will be longer than others, and some posts will be better than others, but I want to be posting nearly every day. Some days will probably have more than one post so that I can write different things for each grade, so I’m setting this goal around days that I post, not the number of posts.

2. Finish at least 80% of the changes that I need to make to the paper that I’m writing. I recently completed a goal that I set earlier this year, which was to have a research paper of mine accepted to a scientific journal. I worked very hard towards that goal and now I’m feeling happy and proud of myself for achieving it. But I need to make some changes before the paper can published, so that’s my new goal.

3. Work well with all of you at DLMS! Just like you, I have planner where I write down all of the work I have to do. I like being very organized and knowing what is expected of me. For me, working on this project is taking a risk because nobody can tell me how it will turn out or what the finished product will look like. Since this is something new, I’ll probably make some mistakes along the way. It will be your job to tell me when that happens and help me fix any problems. At the same time, it will be my job to listen to what you have to say.

Right now, I’m still at home, packing. I leave for the airport in a few hours and then I’ll fly to Manila. My next post probably won’t be until Wednesday, when I get to the ship. Until then, please tell me in the comments: what would you like to see in this blog?

This is a picture of the route I'll take from New York (United States to Seoul (Korea), to Manila (the Philippines). Look how close we go to the north pole! Is this the shortest route the plane can fly?