Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Q & A

- Phil Bresnahan

Some of our many fans on land have been e-mailing us with questions pertaining to this trip, so I’d like to take a moment to answer them. It's hard to respond to all of you out there, but I'll do my best.

Q: Have you seen any interesting wildlife?
A: There is an amazing number of seabirds out here. They’re everywhere you look. This caught me by surprise, expecting to find a vast emptiness in the middle of the Atlantic. We’ve seen a few gaggles of pilot whales passing by (up to fifteen in a group!) and there was a swarm of bottlenose dolphins this morning. We were rolling around in the twenty foot swell and they just came over to check us out and play in the waves. We occasionally capture some copepods, nearly-microscopic zooplankton whose name means “oar feet” (fun fact of the day—you’re welcome), in our testing systems as well. It’s very nice to see other living creatures out here so that we have something to look at other than clouds, waves, rain, and Cyril (see photo below (just kidding, we love Cyril!)).

Q: What do you do for fun?
A: Science!

Q: No, seriously…
A: Oh, well, there are a few recreational options on board. We have a nice movie theatre with a selection of over five hundred movies, very up to date. We watch one movie every day. There is a small gym with space for about two people at any given time, but plenty of options (bicycle, ergometer, free weights, pull-up bar). We also play the British pie game occasionally or listen to Vasili shred it up on the accordion. My favorite thing to do is hang out on the bridge with the captain and mates and listen to some of their stories that they’ve accumulated—and sometimes embellished ;-) –over many years at sea.

Q: What shift do you have to work?
A: I have the blessing and curse of running my own automated equipment; when things are working properly, I can relax but when they’re not, I have to figure out how to fix them. In other words, I’ve had days where I’ve essentially finished working before dinner and others when I’ve still been puzzling over problems until 3am, if not later. I’ve woken up before 6am to start work and I’ve slept until 10:20 (quickly awoken by our weekly fire drill which, unfortunately, slipped my mind until I heard the ship’s alarm bell buried seemingly somewhere inside my skull).

Q: Is most of your work self-contained or is the labor on board shared?
A: A little of both. As I mentioned above, my project is independent, but certainly related to the other work on the ship. We all try to help each other out when possible, share components, and compare data patterns. Most people on the ship are with larger research groups and many of them have collaborated before. The crew is always around to help us if we have specific needs with which they can help us. The bottom line is that there is always someone willing to offer a helping hand.

Q: Do you miss me?
A: Yes, of course.

Bonus question: What is the escutcheon?
A: Hmmm… a good one for parties. Where did you learn that word? Escutcheon, according to the Wikipedia, has many meanings, several of which I will not write here. However, I think the one which you were going for is “a plate on the stern of a ship inscribed with the ship’s name.” Apparently, that is the least commonly used meaning of the word, following “coat of arms,” “an item of door furniture” (sic… door furniture??), “a decorative plate that surrounds a faucet,” other decorative material, and so on…

That's all for now. We love hearing from our fans, so if you have more questions/comments, send 'em over!

1 comment:

  1. Who sent the escutcheon question? Haha, I liked your first answer for fun :-D