7 January, 1997
>Jan. 8, 8:40 AM Bull Pass, Dry Valleys > >Flew into Dry Valleys the night before last at about 8 PM. One of the most >amazing sights I have ever seen. Don't have enough battery power to >describe it. When Helicopter set down in Bull Pass, everything around us >looked like another planet. Absolutely nothing living could be seen in the >pass or anywhere else, for that matter. It is an alien world, with no >visible aliens. > >Yesterday morning we went up both sides of the pass to survey the area for >minerals (orthopyroxenes). The work of Bruce Marsh, Jon Philipp, and Mike >Zieg really impressed me with their work, but Marsh was especially >impressive. To him education is as important as the field work. >Throughout the day he continually lectured and asked questions. Frequently >he would break off a rock and ask what we saw and explain the meaning. He >would also look at the landscape to explain what it meant in terms of the >type of crystals that might be there. I learned a tremendous amount about >how igneous rock forms. > >While in the field the science is very serious but the mood is upbeat. >Because we have to walk great distances and then stay still for a while in >the cold wind (usually about 0 degrees C) we crack a lot of jokes to take >our minds off the difficulties. For example, Mike and Jon are constantly >manufacturing nicknames, the kindest is Herr Doktor. Less kind is Scurvy, >Mucus, and Rigor > >Marsh also explained what he was looking for---things that don't fit >prevailing theories. Anytime he or Jon or Mike found something that did >not seem to belong a debate would start. This is science at its best. >The sky is so bright now (the temperature was -15 C a little while ago) >that I have to work on this lap top under a jacket for cover to see the >screen. > >I haven't been cold much except last night when I went out to the bathroom >and found the bathroom tent had blown over (fortunately the potty contents >did not dump onto the floor). I was very lightly dressed so not prepared >to take the time required to put in stakes and gather rocks to hold it >down. By the time I got back to the tent I was quite chilled and shivered >for a while in the sleeping bag.Return to Bill Philips' Page
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