Though I will not step foot on the Merian until Saturday evening, the voyage to North Pond has begun for this scientist. I write from 35,000 ft in the air, en route to Chicago, Ill. and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting. This is not a meeting I have gone to before, but Jim Cowen of the University of Hawaii organized a session on my favorite topic, the deep biosphere, and invited me to speak. So I am squeezing this into my schedule enroute to the Merian. I'm not the only ship board scientist doing this -- Jennifer Biddle of the University of North Carolina will present as well, and together will continue the trek to meet the ship.
The cruise prep and packing is done now. Nothing to do but hope we haven't forgotten anything important. I have my anti-nausea kit all packed: ginger, bonine, and wrist bands. The bovine isn't strong enough and I'm not entirely sure that the ginger and wrist bands do anything at all, but I always bring them because the alternative, the patch, makes me into a crazy person. We do not want that shipboard! I've said my good byes to my husband and kids, and hope I've put out all the most urgent brush fires in the lab...
Now to finish my talk for the AAAS session, "Introducing the Intraterrestrials." Of course, I'll be talking about intraterrestrial life on the rocks in the deep sea, and will finish up the presentation by unveiling our plans for North Pond. The North Pond cruise I'm heading to is actually just the first of a series of cruises and programs that will be focused on this site. It is kind of hard to wrap my head around this concept, but we are planning essentially a ten-year-plus program at North Pond. Ten years! Let's see, in ten years my oldest daughter should be in college, my younger two finishing high school.
Point is that it is really hard for most of us to really grasp long-term, complex projects like this. Astrophysics would... NASA does... but I'm just a geobiologist. How did I get here I will try to tell the story in pieces. Today I'll just give you a hint: it's all about dark energy, and deep life, below the bottom of the ocean.