Antarctica 2012--2013 Part 6

Photo of me by BICEP2

Sundays has brunch instead of breakfast or lunch--just like old times in college. I got a made-to-order omelet with olives! People tend to be a bit more relaxed on Sunday or so I am told.

To get to work we had to put our ECW back on and walk 1 km from the Elevated Station to the "dark sector," where the CMB experiments are. The first time was quite difficult, partly because I was still acclimating to the altitude, and partly because I was carrying the box of scientific equipment. I didn't feel too cold, but the temperature was only -10 F and there was no wind.

My first day was spent mostly learning where things were in the lab. I'm working on two experiments here (BICEP2 and SPUD/Keck), and they're in different labs. They're only 200 m apart, but going outside that can easily be a 10 minute trek. Furthermore, we share equipment between the experiments so sometimes we have to look in both places anyway.

Walking to the labs and, even more, looking out from the lab rooftops, the isolation and remoteness of the environment become palpable. There's ice in every direction. The tallest objects are man-made and only one or two stories. The sun never sets. Even with the view, walking to the labs and back to station two or three times per day can get tiring.

A lot of our work right now is calibrating the BICEP2 instrument before we take it apart to make way for newer and better telescopes. This involves making calibration sources (microwave emitters with various power and polarizations) and positioning them in front of and around the telescopes. Sometimes we put them on tall masts to get a better view.

I took my first shower here on Tuesday (Dec. 11). As I mentioned to some of you, water is heavily rationed except for drinking and hand washing (they're big on stopping germs). We're allowed two 2-minute showers per week. Laundry is limited to one load per week.

The temperature has been dropping since I got here, and, worse, the wind is picking up. The wind chill is -37 F right now.

In the next segment, recreation...

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