We are steadily traveling north into positively balmy weather. The temperature outside has topped 14 degrees and many of the expeditioners are sporting shorts and t-shirts. Clearly these are the expeditioners from Hobart. The water temperature has also increased into the teens (at least at the surface) and our team is able to complete sampling without having to defrost our fingers afterward. We are now heading into some of the deepest waters of this voyage along the I9 transect. I do believe we have a 5600m cast some time in the next 24 hours which is very exciting and involves a lot of waiting. I’m getting very good at waiting…..very…good…indeed.
During one of our periods of waiting we were treated to a series of short talks from the metagenomics group or Team Tim, named so in honour of their wonderful leader Tim, who has been teaching me all about certain bacteria’s reverse Krebs Cycle. The midday talks have been fabulous. They are supposed to be pitched at a more general audience, which some people are managing better than others. But Team Tim were fantastic and explained some of ‘omics’ of cutting edge biological science: genomics and metagenomics, proteomics and transcriptomics. In a rather superficial nutshell these disciplines are concerned with elucidating different genes and who they belong to, the specific proteins that are present and their function, and how environmental conditions dictate which traits will be expressed and which will stay dormant. All from the microbes in a few buckets of water. I should write more about this, perhaps when I get back on land……and have access to Wikipedia.
A very wise man once said to me that the really interesting work goes on between the disciplines; thank you Dr Eggins I whole heartedly agree. I guess this is why we end up with rather interesting titles such as ‘biogeochemist’ or ‘marine organic geochemist’. The point is I have had much ‘bio’ and ‘chemo’ exposure on board this voyage and found it wildly stimulating. Yes I have just referred to tutorials as wildly stimulating, perhaps I need to get out more. But I do hope to bring some of these types of discussions back to base camp. I’m going to thoroughly miss the scientific interaction on board the Aurora and am going to try very hard to get out and interact more with my colleagues on my return, even though they don’t appear to want to interact with me. Mind you saying that I have scads of work to do on my return which will require me spending a lot of time in my office, then I go to Hobart, then Amsterdam, then Melbourne…..okay perhaps I should organise coming back out to sea.