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Hurry Up and Wait

MCMURDO STATION, ANTARCTICA– It’s hurry up and wait around here. We’ve had one set back after another. Our science sled wasn’t ready when we arrived. We’ve overcome obstacle after obstacle struggling to get it fit for the field.

Building the science sled, known as the “Thunder Sled.”

On National Geographic or the Discovery Channel it always seems so easy. On TV it goes something like this: a scientist has an idea, no one agrees with him, he builds an experiment in his lab and toils away at mathematical equations until ultimately proving himself correct and sending the scientific community into a tailspin.

When, in fact, it is far more complicated. The Science Channel never tells you about dozens of meetings, hundreds of relationships and the never-ending logistics behind harvesting scientific data. There are proposals to be written, documents to be filed, signatures required, wrenches to be turned, personalities to pacify, schedules to be made and lists to be filled. Murphy’s Law dominates. A successful scientific expedition requires a well-equipped diverse team and a lead scientist morphed into a project manager. We are still in McMurdo Station when we should be in the field. Fortunately our lead scientist has scheduled enough down time into our expedition schedule. We are still confident we can reach all of the scientific goals.

More work to be done on the Thunder Sled.

Antarctica is harsh. Trying to harvest scientific data from Antarctica is excruciating. This continent does not give up her secrets easily, not even to the most tenacious of scientists. I am inspired by the knowledge, tenacity and problem solving skills of my teammates. If I had to describe them with one word, it would be: capable. These people know how to take care of some serious business and I am proud to be one of them.

The storm that kept us grounded at McMurdo Station.

The bad weather prevented us from leaving for our field site.
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2 Responses »

  1. Andrea,
    Had a surprise the other night when I had a call from my son, Brian. I told him I had been reading your journals & keeping up with what was going on. It is very interesting to hear different viewpoints. Your
    experiences will be unforgettable. He said that you were having trouble with the air compressor now.
    What more can go wrong? Hopefully things will be back up & running soon since you have a limited
    time frame to obtain your data. Heard you saw an emperior penguin this week. I plan to show my 7th graders The March of the Penguins as part of the unit I am building around your expedition. They will do
    note taking and write a paper about what they learned. Antarctica is fascinating to me, but little did I know that I would ever have personal contacts there. Brian’s 23 birthday is Nov. 8 which is today here in Broadus,
    Montana. Please wish him our best. Take care — hope things start to go as planned.

    Patty Williams

  2. Hello Patty,

    Thanks for all of the support. I hope your class is enjoying our updates via Ice Stories.
    Brian had a good birthday. The cook made him a brownie cake, David and I gave him a group hug, and I tortured him with song and merriment during dinner so much he rolled his eyes at me. He was happy.

    If you get a chance please have your class check out my “Journey” slide show here on Ice Stories. I made it with middle school kids in mind. Hope to hear from you again.