Week 9

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Once home, there was much work to be done. The station samples were set aside to give preference to the iron enrichment samples. Piece-by-piece the data was assembled. First, the variable fluorescence data was downloaded, giving the health of the cells on each day. Then chlorophyll was extracted from filters and measured for concentration. Fatty Acid composition was started, as was the process of analysing preserved water under the microscope.

There were few distractions. Aside from renting a kayak one weekend and volunteering at Bigelow’s booth at a festival the next, there was little to do besides work and rest. It was not unpleasant.

Andrew was apprehensive. Over a few hectic days all of his work would be either rewarded or proven worthless. It was interesting to watch Helga and Joaquim give their opinions. Andrew began to understand that this was part of a larger process. A benefactor — in this case NASA — financed and expedition. The investigator then uses the opportunity afforded by their travel to a remote destination to perform experiments. While a hypothesis was employed to give focus, the results need not be in any way what was being measured. In total Andrew’s lab team had prepared to assess the iron enriched samples in no less than seven ways. If any of these showed a fascinating occurrence, it would be written about and polished up. If it was meaningful enough then it might entice another benefactor to finance further investigation, restarting the process. Andrew realized that while any project was being undertaken Joaquim and Helga were keeping in mind new experiments and ways of provoking interest in them.

Tomorrow would bring more chlorophyll, more microscopy, and more fatty acid chromatography. Andrew had only a few more days to find meaning in his work which he could present at the end of his program.

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