In the name of science

As my bed was rocking last night and I was afraid I was going to be airlifted, I was struck by what lengths people go to for science. I made a joke with my students once watching some movie in class when the ficticious scientists jumped across a crevass in the ice to recover their ice cores – like “oh I would totally do that for science,” facetiously. But here I am on a tossing and turning boat.

Over 100 people work on this ship 24 hours a day to help pull up slugs of mud and rock from the sea floor. So, no wonder they get excited about squiggley lines on a page that relate to the magnetic susceptibility or natural gamma radiation from these small slugs (they’re small in comparison to the size of the ship, and to other rocks that you might see every day that are too easy to sample for these X-TREME geoscientists).

I think of my own experiences as a scientist and I surely never thought working with lasers was particularly dangerous. Sure, you could get burned, damage your eyes or, well, be electrocuted. But those are just fleeting tribulations in an otherwise safe controlled physical chemistry laboratory environment. Here, they’ve got the lab and extraction equipment on this tossing and turning and creaking and humming platform just to go get the samples. It hit home for me – these guys really sacrifice a lot for data.