As you can see I've finally got around to posting some more photos. As promised in the last entry I have a picture of an actogram, this is the output from the actiwatches that we wear for Vicki the Doc's research project. Her research is to do with circadian rythms, and how light affects the resetting of the biological clock. Every month the light bulbs in our light boxes get changed between white light and a bluer light. The light boxes and bulbs are provied by Philips. It is thought that the blue bulbs will reset our clocks better and make us feel better. We also have to have two days of pee sampling (they are testing our Melatonin levels to check where in our circadian rythm we are) and questionaires about our physical and mental states. You can find out more about this by clicking here and reading the first article.
Actogram showing my activity and light exposure for a week. The graph is a bit confusing because the data is repeated each day. This is done because the most important times are the nights and by adding the next days data on the end allows the nights to be more easily studied. The yellow trace is the light exposure and the black trace is my acceleration.
As you can see on the above graph I get exposed to quite a bit of light and occasionally I do a bit of exercise. There is actually quite a bit of competion to see who was the most active each week, but this is really complicated to work out as some people are very active but only for a very short time. Also people wear their watching in different places so it is difficult to get a true measure of activity.
We have also had a proper Club Nido (the worlds most exculsive club apparently). This happens in the garage. We did have one in the summer (see here) but officially Club Nido only happens in the winter. It was very good, with Frances, Alex, Anto and Kirsty putting a lot of effort in to decorate the place. There was also a massive blow predicted so we all arrived as the storm started. The garage is about 600m from the Laws platform which in a big blow can be quite a distance. It was nice being inside a relatively warm garage while there was a storm outside but we also had that feeling that it would be best to get back to our beds at the end of the night and that we had to brave the winds.
Halley Base Babes (from left to right: Kirsty, Nicola, Vicky, Liz and Frances) initially segragrated themselves in the middle of the dance floor at Club Nido. There were shades of a school disco.
Things warmed up though.
Frances and Mark strutt their stuff while Alex poses.
Vehicle Mech (Anto) and Vehicle Mech Apprentice (Andy) read a tool magazine in the chill out corner with the Halley babes.
There were a few intense twister sessions before the dancing got really going.
There was also a lot of sitting around and chatting and eating.
A few people struggled back early but most people stumbed out into 50 knot winds at about 2am. I was in this big group and stumbled out near the front. We started to head back along the hand-lines with visability down to about 15m. I was looking back watching everyone else and as we got out I noticed that Mark stumbled worse than most and actually fell over. I went back for him and got him back to the garage. He was in a bit of pain and seems to have sprained something on the stairs out of the garage. After we had warmed up we tried again to head back but quickly turned back to get another set of goggles for Mark. We finally headed out about an hour after everyone else had left with me helping Mark along and him dragging himself along the hand-line. I don't know how long it took us but it felt like it took us about 30 mins to walk the 600 m back to the Laws. The last bit of the journey was around the Laws building itself and for this bit we just sort of held onto each other and slid along till we got to the stairs. It was great to get back. Mark every said that it was the first time he had held another man's hand for any lenght of time but he was willing to do it again. It turned out that he had actually broken his foot. He also had a bit of frost-nip. Anyway it made me feel abit of an antarctic hero.
Mark shows off his broken leg.
With mid-winter approaching everyone is starting to build their mid-winter presents or at least crystalise their ideas. So this is one of the things that people are doing in their free time. We are also learning a great deal from each other. One of the things we have every thursday is Doc school. This is where we practice and learn advanced first aid and other things Vicki (the doc) wants us to learn if we have to treat someone if she is not available (if the patient is her or we or she is on a winter trip). So we have been going through our ABCDE etc... first aid until it has been drummed into us. So now we know how to put in a chest drain, take and type blood, perform a tracheoctomy. We have been going through the whole lot and also do scenarios which is all very good. One of the more interesting ones was on C the circulation system were we learnt about pelvic fractures and blood loss. We aslo practiced putting venflons (canulae) into each other. We took it in turns to stab each other and then the idea was to get a blood sample and type it (ABO rhesus etc...). So I got to stab Mark, and this was pretty good, straight in no mistakes, a bit of blood on the floor and didn't quite slide the tube in deep enough but still good. Then it was my turn and I got John the BC administering. I not normally bad with needles and I rarely faint but for some reason I did feel a tiny bit queasy on that day. Anyway the up shot was that John missed my vein on his initial stab by about 5mm and his sticking the needle in and out for 5 mins didn't get the vein either.
Me having a canula (venflon) fitted by John the WBC. After 5 mins of searching for a vein he withdrew the venflon. He was just about to stick it back in me when I fainted.
It was very embarrassing waking up on the floor of the dinning room having just had the most amazingly vivid dreams. I think I was mumbling something about having been in the other place maybe the afterlife. Apparently I was also making heaving breathing sounds. Very very embarrassing. Enough said about that.
We have also had GA school where we learnt to use GPSs better and recently learnt to splice. So now we can make eye splices, end splices and short splices. There has also been welding school run by Anto. Hopefully all these lessons will continue after mid-winter.
We have had some contact with the other BAS bases in the form of webcam darts matches. Our first was against Bird Island and their wintering team of four. They just beat us. We then played the mighty Rotherans and soundly beat them. I think there is a trend of smaller bases doing better because of the increased board time for the players (We play 501 ending on a double with everyone taking it in turns).
Simon the GA just about to throw a dart in the famous victory over the Rothera. Note the fancy webcam on the darts board to make sure we aren't cheating.
There have been a few questions that have continued to crop up in the comments and I have not been very good at answering them so here goes.
One of them was what camera do I have?
I have got a Canon 20D with a 17-85mm zoom lens and a 70-300mm zoom lens. I hardly ever use the 70-300mm but will hopefully do so when we visit the penguins again.
What is rime?
Rime is formed when we have fog here. Basically it is water vapour condensing out of the fog onto all cold surfaces (everything). It is similar to hoar frost but hoar frost forms directly from water vapour whereas rime condenses first. Needles of ice form on all the surfaces. Here are a few photos that may help.
Rime on the Share Towers and the AIS mast in the distance. This photo was taken in April when we still had light. The shadows were pretty amazing. If you didn't have the rime then the Share towers in the background would be silver. Photo courtesy of Andy METman.
Rime on the handline at the bottom of the Laws. As you can see the ice has deposited on the rope in needles. You get weird vibrations along the hand-lines when there is rime. I think it is something to do karmen vortex excitation and the rime provides weight (to lower the frequency) and friction (to help cause the excitation). This photo was also taken when we still had light. Photo courtesy of Simon H the GA.
There are a few more questions which I will dig up and hopefully answer in the next entry.
We have also had a few aurora, I am determined that I will get a really good photo and movie of the aurora while I am down here.
More Aurora (named after the Roman goddess of dawn), over the Piggott platform. Hopefully we will see some more soon.
I mentioned that we had a storm on the night of Club Nido, but it only reached its peak at about 10 am the next day. It hit about 65 knots (we don't now exactly because the anemometers broke), this was 2 min average wind. One of the consequences was that a lot of stuff got blown about. On the Share towers, about 5 out of the 16 towers had pieces of angle missing weakening them a lot. Chris and I climbed them and found missing bolts and most towers fairly wobbly, we fixed them in the freezing temperatures. We also found the stairs blown off on one of the cabooses where the optical experiments take place.
Chris at the bottom of the optical caboose, you can see the steps have been blown off and are deeply buried in the snow.
The steps once we had dug them out and reattached them.
While Chris and I fixed the Share most of the rest of base when about picking up bits and bobs that had got blown of containers. We have also had some wonderful weather with beautiful clear skys. The problem with this is that when the sky is clear it gets really cold (-40 degrees C cold for me) but it gets warmer when it is overcast. I think I prefer it to be freezing and clear.
We still have light. This was taken at about 2:30pm GMT yesterday, thats about an hour after local noon. Its pretty dark but you still have enought light to wander without bumping into things.
All the buildings have safety lights so you can navigate easily to and fro. The lights from left to right are: The Laws building, the melt tank and on the right the Simpson platform. The only time you can't see the lights is when there is a blow and then you can use the handlines.