3 May, 2002
Today should be my last day in Fairbanks until its time to go home. The Haul Road (Dalton Highway) is open and it appears that it will be for our stay in Toolik Lake. Our day today is committed mostly to packing the lab equipment for the trip to Toolik. The road is so rough that everything must be well padded and protected from the bumping and jostling we will get on the drive. Anything and everything that we might need in Toolik must be boxed and carried with us.
Almost nothing is left at the research camp during the winter. The Dalton Highway is the only way to reach Toolik Lake other than by bush plane and since the bush planes have a very limited cargo room, anything with any size must be taken up by truck. The importance of this situation is that heating fuel and fuel for the generators can be in very short supply over the winter. To conserve fuel all labs and non-essential buildings are completely shut down over the winter.
In the few lab tests we've been able to do today, we did find that our experimental procedures had a minor flaw. We have been trying to check the freezing points of the Cucujus and the centipedes by freezing them on a bed of pre-made ice. Unfortunately we were making the ice bed in a super sub-zero freezer that gets as cold as -800 degrees Celcius. Consequently, the ice bed we were putting the critters on was already near 20 below zero. We discovered this problem as we watched centipedes freeze as soon as we put them into the tubes. The result . . . we were cold-shocking the centipedes rather than actually testing their tolerance to freezing. A lesson learned; that research and research methods are often far from perfect.
During one short break today I had the opportunity to visit some spots on the University of Alaska-Fairbanks campus. There is a rich cultural history on this campus as well as an extensive science and technology program. I have been impressed with both the faculty here and many of the facilities. The photos in today's entry are all from locations on or near the UAF campus.
Lastly today I wanted to introduce you to one of the leaders of our crew, Dr. Jack Duman of the University of Notre Dame. Dr. Duman is the chairman of the biology department and has been researching cold tolerance in animals and anti-freeze proteins for quite some time. Jack is original from Pennsylvania and earned his Bachelor's degree at Penn State. From there he went on to do his graduate work at the Scripps Institute in San Diego. Jack is now a regular fixture on the UAF campus as well as Notre Dame and is one of the world's leaders in anti-freeze protein research.
I do not now when I will be able to send my next journal entry. The communications at Toolik are still questionable and we won't know what we have to work with until we get there. So until then, I hope you enjoy the photos.
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