The Balloon Launch

It's -98.6 F outside. Early in the morning we decided to head out to the ballon launching facility to see what's happening.

Welcome to the scientist's workstation.

We walked into the launching dock and watched as the balloon filled with helium.
After it filled, we tested the meteorological instruments. These instruments record ozone concentration, altitude, location (via GPS), outside temp., frost point and much more.

This gadget being charged monitors ozone concentrations in the atmosphere. It hangs 40 meters below the base of the balloon and sends out a radio signal to an antenna above our station. The battery system inside the meteorological instrument doesn't last more than a few hours and we hope that the ballon gets to 25+ km in order to get a proper reading of the ozone in the stratosphere. Computer software gathers the data from the device and disseminates it using a basic GUI, which allows researchers to analyze ozone. I.e., the ozone hole is graphically and numerically displayed on the computer by low values ( <90 DU ) of O3.

Once the device was charged we took it outside and watched the data output to see if it was working properly and could withstand the cold.

It worked just fine. We then hooked up the box with the met. recording instruments to the ballon,

and took it outside. Within a minute the balloon was flying away off into outerspace only to later burst and fall back down again, somewhere, many hours and miles away.

Nowadays we got GPS strapped to the balloon and can see it's exact geographical location.

Here's an old graph showing temperature and ozone concencentrations. The ozone hole occurs around October at South Pole when a giant parcel of air get's trapped by the circumpolar vortex. Air in that parcel contains CFCs, molecules that destroy ozone. If the vortex is present and the stratosphere is about -80 F def, stratospheric clouds form and these present a crystalized medium by which CFCs (present in the upper regions of the troposphere found with the parcel) and ozone can interact. Chlorine, from the CFCs, kills the ozone. No ozone = more UV radiation is let in, and well, more thermal radiation is let out... it's a hole... an anti-greenhouse effect. Global cooling? -w/m^2? CFCs stem from developed countries, i.e. freon, these are manmade produces of the hole. The Montreal Protocol has created a push to remove these atmosphere-destroying agents from industrialization, but unfortunately they have a 100 year half-life and the alternatives being produced nowadays are worse. Thankfully, I guess, there's only one spot on Earth that witnesses a stratospheric temperature less than -80 deg F where ozone can get annihilated... and that's the South Pole. Sunscreen anyone?

Happy Canada Day!

Today is the 143rd anniversary of when Canada was born.

So, a few of us who love Canada did a little celebrating.

Canadian flags dot the hallways but we also decided to throw in a traditional Canadian dish called poutine.

Poutine is fries, topped with gravy and cheese curds. If you get fancy you can throw on some sauteed onions and bacon bits. The girls I hung with at uni in Ontario lived off this stuff. The pic below comes from a poutine shop in Montreal: www.montrealpoutine.com


20,000 Leagues Under the Ice

Lies a grocery full of years supply of food, stored at <-50F. To get there you have to journey several hundred feet down a flight of steps...

Through a corridor door...

Down a secret ice tunnel...

Watch out for the Anunaki writing, it says they will be back soon.
Out through this door...
Which is right next to the all the rollers where the tri-wall food bins come in...
Down the L.O. walkway..
And you're there.
mmm... Ice Cream.
Upstairs is where they keep all the inventory,
But, as soon as I saw the skunk I ran. Been sprayed once before, never again.


Bagel Sunday

Last night around 9er the moon was partially eclipsed... and since we are at the South Pole the eclipse happened upside down. Before the eclipse..

Halfway through the eclipse.

I awoke this morning after a night of crazy dreams (again) and strolled to the kitchen to grab the baking cookbook to study the bagel recipe. Along the way I found a tree frog.

I then sat down in my room and did a little math to figure out what ingredients are needed to make 500 bagels.

Later I went to la cocina to prep for the bagel making clase. I dressed 25 sheet trays with semolina flour.

Then I made the doughs. I made plain, honey-wheat, cinnamon and brown sugar, and onion and garlic.

Once you get the ingredients together dump them in the bread mixer and mix for 10 minutes.

You want the bagel dough to be bucky, which is elastic, soft and smooth.

Meanwhile Debz got the waffle machine rolling.

At 2ish 12 or so volunteers showed up. I created an assembly line involving 4 people weighing and cutting the dough, and 8 people rolling the bagels. I ran around with the sheet trays and picked up the shaped bagels, as well as delivered batches of dough.

Before the party begins..

Shaping time.

As projected we made 500+ bagels, consisting of 4 different flavour varieties. It took us only 1 hour to shape the entire batch and I am astonished at how quick it went.

Right now the bagels are outside on the backporch cooling at -75 deg F and in a few I will go upstairs and box them up. Now we have enough fresh, tasty bagels to last us at least a month. Fun stuff.