Sunday, May 13, 2007

Night Life

It's been ten days since the last post, sorry for being slack!

So what's changed? Well, last week had clear skies giving beautiful twilight for about 6 hours around noon and stunning star-filled nights. Sadly there were no aurora as the conditions were perfect. It's now clouded over making it pretty much pitch black outside for most of the day. this is a less impressive.

Work has continued as usual with the fixing of a troublesome precision barometer the highlight of the week. We've also started soaking our weather balloons in Avtur (Aviation Turbine Fuel) to increase their resistance to popping in the extremely cold upper atmosphere where temperatures drop to -70C!

Doctor Richard has started his contribution to a long-running study on sleep patterns at Halley. One's waking habits are usually driven by external triggers, daylight, but without this trigger the body clock tends to over-run. By replacing sunlight with special lamps, the body clock can be reset. In theory. This week we have been wearing activity monitors and recording our sleep quantity and quality as a base reference. The special lamps will be used every other week, for the next two months, giving Richard a good dataset to test the theory.

Sports wise, I've completed a personal kite challenge - a complete tour-de-Halley, following the Northern half of the perimeter. The tricky part was getting past the parked up vehicles without getting stuck in a large hole between snow drifts. With a careful bit of tacking, I broke through to the larger west side of the base and had a fantastic flat-out run for about 2km! My jumps are getting better too, helped by the fact the kite provides a lot of the lift, so the knees don't get the same hammering on landing as say on a bike.

Evening activities are centered around the making of midwinter presents. At the start of the season we drew the name of our recipient from a hat, so have had time to design appropriate gifts. The metal and wood workshops are busy most evenings with people making parts with great secrecy, to surprise not only the receiver but the whole base. Naturally, I can't say what I'm making, but it's coming on well.


Anonymous Stu said...

Dave, do you notice much difference between -20 and -40, or does it all feel pretty much the same?

6:42 am GMT  
Blogger David Vaynor Evans said...

Stu, this may be the first sign of craziness, but I'm finding the recent -20 heatwave far too warm!

-30 is pleasant, as the clothes keep you warm when moving, but with no overheating.

-40 is cold. Tears and snot freeze, as do goggles meaning I can't see. So far the cold hasn't bothered me all at, but the frozen goggles drive me mad!

10:48 am GMT  
Anonymous Skinny D said...

I'd never even considered snot could freeze before Norway so it was a freaky experience when it first happened.

Talking of freezing bodily fluids, what sort of set up do you have for your ablutions when on safari?

10:57 am GMT  
Blogger David Vaynor Evans said...

I wondered who would ask that one!

In the field we pee in an area marked by a flag to keep the yellow snow in one place, away from the 'drinking snow'. We also have bottles to save leaving the tent at night. Just be sure to screw the lid on tight before chucking it down inside the sleeping bag!

The toilet is a small tent over a big hole, complete with karimat insulated toilet seat!

The simple answer to "how do you goto the toilet in Antarctic?" is - Quickly!

11:37 am GMT  

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