Gib Finney’s sequel to THE POWER OF UN
Mystery Pockets
13 June 2008, Finney @ 7:30 pm

[This post written 6/13/08; position: lat -57’49”, long -44’28”; temp -1C; wind chill -18C]

First, hi, Lorenzo, I will answer your latest questions. Plus, we are sending the name “The Mosquito” to the airplane team. We Three Musketeers all love this name and think it would be great for the second plane. Also on that subject, it looks like the weather is turning bad. (You might notice it’s colder today than yesterday.) Which means the chances of flying the plane in the next few days are not so great. So Steve E. and Kim have been building a kite (!), and Jake is working on a bigger, stronger slingshot. The slingshot speaks for itself, but the kite is a new idea. They don’t have the perfect materials. At the moment, the kite frame is plastic hose, and the kite fabric is heavy duty garbage bags. They will do a test today to see if it will lift the weight of the GPS beacon along with the Nerf football. The kite’s name is Crusader Rabbit, which Steve says is an old cartoon character from when he was young.

Lorenzo’s second question is about the iceberg, and why it is so flat on top. First, I know an iceberg that’s over 2 miles long seems huge, but out here, it’s actually pretty small. In a couple of days, we will be moving to one that is humongous compared to this one, believe it or not. This iceberg (and the new one we will soon be seeing) are both “tabular” icebergs. Dr. Helly explained to me that this comes from a Latin word, “tabula” that means a board or tablet. Our word “table” comes from this same Latin word. So tabular icebergs are supposed to be flat on top. But why? It’s because tabular icebergs are pieces that have broken off from big glaciers on the Antarctic continent, or from the ice shelves, which are big sheets of ice extending out into the sea, like the Ross and Larsen Ice Shelves. So, in a way, you could say this iceberg was born flat. It’s just a small piece that broke off from a big, flat sheet of ice, and probably not all that long ago — a year maybe.

The picture above is one of the weirdest things I have seen lately, and as you know, I have seen a few weird things lately. At the science meeting a couple of days ago, Paul McGill showed us the few minutes of video they got from the ROV just before they lost contact with it. This is what it saw under the iceberg! Underneath, the ice has all these strange little pockets all neatly arranged in a pattern, almost like a golf ball. Nobody knows for sure what this is all about — why these pockets happen, or what they are exactly. For that, we will have to wait, but we’re hoping it won’t be too long. The Amazing Engineers, Alana, Paul, Steve E., Kim, Brett, and Marko are at it again. They have spent the last few days roving around the ship looking for bits and pieces to make a new ROV out of! It’s like they’re on a scavenger hunt. All kinds of things might be useful for building a new ROV. They have found a couple of thruster motors no one was using, and a video camera and other stuff they will mount on a frame. It will be “rough n’ ready” compared to the old ROV, but maybe it will work, just like the guys in the old movie “Flight of the Phoenix,” one of my favorites to watch on rainy days, who make a new plane out of a crashed one.

Ash and Rainy and I have had a secret meeting about Strike. We are going to try to have a conversation with him, probably tonight or tomorrow, and thereby find out who or what he is and what he is doing on this ship.

13 June 2008, Finney @ 6:19 am

[This post written 6/12/08; position: lat -57’49”, long -44’28”; temp 0C; wind chill -13C]

I thought a big piece broke off the iceberg yesterday! Hahahahahaha! This is hysterical laughter. The story actually begins last night. Just as I got into bed, Strike was lying on my pillow, and he said, “You’d better wrap you camera in a t-shirt and put it in the cupboard.”

I said, “Wha…?” And then I said, “Ash, did you hear that? Ash!” But Ash didn’t hear because he was asleep. I said, “Strike, why would I want to wrap my camera in a t-shirt?”

“To pad it when the big wave comes,” said Strike.

“What big wave? What’re you talking about you lunatic bird?”

“The one that happens when the iceberg breaks in two,” said Strike.

“I can’t believe I’m having this conversation, especially with a stuffed penguin,” I said. But I got up and did what he said anyway, and boy, am I ever glad. Because in the middle of the night, the iceberg really did break in two. I don’t know if there was a big wave or not, because I was asleep. I didn’t notice. But this morning a giant hunk of the iceberg was floating around a couple of miles from the rest of the iceberg. Dr. Helly says he estimates about 15% of the iceberg broke off.

One of the most awesome parts of all this is that the small piece is the right shape for penguins to climb onto and play! Seriously! We watched them hopping around and sliding down it into the water for a while today. Captain Mike got the ship pretty close. My picture is not the greatest, but you can see the penguins above playing around.

Later, we went down to the wet lab on the main deck, where the biologists were sorting through specimens they brought up last night with this big thing called a MOCNESS. All those letters stand for stuff, like Multiple Opening-Closing etc. I can’t remember what all. But it gathers samples of stuff from the ocean, mostly near the surface. Here are some pictures of Dr. Kaufmann and his helpers sorting through the samples, which are mainly salps and planktons. The middle picture is a polychete, which is sort of a sea worm with lots of legs. The bottom picture is plankton. They were alive in those dishes and wriggling all around, and the scientists let us help with the sorting. Rainy held up a big salp about half an inch from Ash’s face to scare him. Gross, but cool.

Now I just have to figure out how Strike knows what’s going to happen before it happens. !!