Friday, December 7, 2007

Boxing Day

Like me, you may never have wondered where all the boxes for the core come from.  They are just part of the scenery!  No one nips out to the corner store to buy them.  Today we had to build them ourselves :) 

A major part of planning for any science team heading to Antarctica to do research is figuring out to the last item what will be needed to conduct their science work for their whole visit.  There are some things that are common to all science teams that NSF brings in and maintains at Crary
 lab: glassware etc. and even some larger pieces of equipment.  For teams that require specialized 
machines, computers, tools or supplies, they figure out what and how much they will need, then pack it up and ship it to the folks at Raytheon, well in advance of deployment.  
Don't miscount - you might end up in the embarrassing position of having brought down too much or too
 little.  Too much and you wasted precious cargo space.  Too little and you might not be able to finish your science work.  Logistics pros from Raytheon schedule the cargo in and
 out of all USAP sites, planning so that the available space is used to get things there just in
 advance of when they are needed, as there isn't too much storage but the science isn't being held back either.

Box party in the lab!  Everyone comes and 
pitches in to turn huge piles of flat waxed cardboard into core boxes.  Today we made boxes for HQ (3 sections of core per box) and NQ (4 sections of core per box) diameter core.  These boxes are a little over 1m long.  This stuff is tough.  Thick waxed board has to be painstakingly bent at the dotted fold lines to make the right shape.  There is a lid, base and insert for each box.  Making boxes takes time but there is lots of teamwork and music, so we have fun.  After, we have to scrape all the extra wax off the tables and floor - not as much fun.  
This is our second box party, hopefully we won't need another before we are done.  How many boxes do we need?

Just think about this example: for 1000m (or 1km) of core, if a third is drilled in each of the 3 sizes it would make 333m of PQ, 333m of HQ, and 334m of NQ.  How many boxes would we need?  
(hint: each PQ box holds 2m of core, each HQ box holds 3m of core, and each NQ box holds 4m of core.)

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