"Lab Work and Time"

Jim Sweitzer - January 9, 1995

    If you were to step into some the laboratories down here you would see a mixture of high tech equipment and LOTS of people. CARA is now outfitting one of its lab buildings with the equipment for three separate experiments. At the same time there are electricians (they call themselves "sparkies") and sheet metal workers ("tin knockers") finishing the construction on the building. Added to this crew are the "Live systems are in place for the upcoming TV show. The number of projects going on simultaneously in the same space is amazing. One thing we have to learn quickly is patience and cooperation. And that can be VERY difficult when you are oxygen deprived.

Today I finally got the computer program going that analyzes the data for the TERC Total Column Ozonometer (TCO). As is typical with any experiment, you may think you have everything, but usually you are missing one piece of hardware or information. In my case it was some numbers that tell the computer software how to produce an ozone number given the measurements I made. The TCO simply reads out a few numbers. These have to be computer crunched and I needed the numbers that told the program how to calculate the amount of ozone in Dobson units. Luckily Lt. Katy McNitt of NOAA had them. So, I was able to get results for the TCO for the first time and they seem to make sense.

We got another lesson in doing science with the TCO today when we went to compare its results with those of Katie's professional ozonometer. Just when we were ready to begin taking readings, the sky clouded up. You need a clear shot of the sun to make an ozonometer work, since it is measuring ozone in the stratosphere high above the clouds. Here clouds are relatively rare, so it was frustrating to have them roll in just when we needed to observe light from the sun.....maybe tomorrow.

Not only do people work hard and in labs full of activity, but they often drift into strange time schedules down here. Since the sun is up all of the time, some people start freewheeling around the clock. That means they work until they're tired, sleep and then start up again. Well, if you work for 17 hours straight and sleep for 8, you can see that you will start keeping 25 hour days. That is real easy to do down here.

We do worry about keeping in synchronization with the rest of the world. The time difference is great between here and Chicago, for example. The way we keep track is to remember that Chicago is 5 hours ahead of us by the clock and one day behind us by the calendar. The "Live from Antarctica" broadcast, for example, will actually happen here at the Pole on Wednesday the 11th at 11:30 in the morning. You will see it at 4:30 PM CST on the 10th.

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