IceCube Laboratory Video Tour; Midrats Finale

John Jacobsen
Friday, February 1, 2008

Home All Posts

Earlier post SPIFF, Party, Shift Change southpole

Later post One More Week southpole

Tonight I jogged half a mile across the skiway to the IceCube Laboratory (ICL). Oddly enough, it was my first time out there since I arrived two weeks ago. This has been the first trip where physically interacting with the computers has not been required since all the hands-on work is getting done by other people this year. You might ask, why go at all then? There are a few reasons. First, the satellite connection to South Pole from the real world is slow and lasts perhaps 12 hours a day at best; for much of my time here, it’s been rather less than that. My work is 100% focused on interacting with the computers, so a good connection is important. Second, there are many things that could go wrong which would require hands-on work (as has happened all other years previously). Also, there are several people here who I need to assist with various things. And finally, one gains special knowledge by seeing the physical system one works on (sensors, cables, building, station, …), which is hard to quantify but important nonetheless.

Still, as various systems get more reliable, there will be less call to have so many people on-Ice. When construction is complete, there will probably be only a few seasonal people and one or two winter-overs for IceCube.

For my part, though, it was a treat to get out and see the experiment. It makes the work more exciting and vivid. Even when back home in Chicago, I spend a lot of time “inhabiting” the computers in the ICL, logging in from over the satellite, fixing things and running tests. Seeing their hyper-functional rack-mounted exteriors “in the flesh” was an experience somehow akin to looking in a mirror… the face you see in the peering back out of the looking glass doesn’t correspond necessarily to your sense of self, yet it’s somehow “you” nonetheless.

Jogging out to the Dark Sector was also a heck of a lot more fun than the treadmill in the Gym, despite -60 F wind-chills. On the way back, I got “stuck” on the far side of the skiway - the crossing beacon was on, indicating the approach of an aircraft. I zipped up and hunkered down for a 10 minute wait out on the snow. But in just a few minutes, the incoming C-130 touched down and I was free to finish my jog back to the station.

Software serves up endless intellectual delights, but nothing beats physical “meatspace” for animals like us.

Speaking of meatspace and physical pleasures, tonight’s Midrats (midnight meal) was the season finale. Here’s the menu (details included for a certain special chef!):

  • Bacon-wrapped Filet Mignon
  • Grilled scallops
  • Stuffed Portabello Mushroom Caps
  • Mixed Vegetables
  • Baked potato
  • Sushi bar
  • Harvest Salad with Apples, Blue Cheese, Cranberries, Onions and Roasted Pecans
  • Triple Chocolate and Mocha Mousse
  • Iced Tea

I told the Midrats chef that it was the best meal I’d had in seven seasons on the Ice – a comment I heard her passing around to her crew. We also had tablecloths and candles (a rarity at the Pole due to fire safety concerns). The meal was explicitly off-limits for day shift but there were so many people there I suspect some folks snuck in.

Today is the first of February, meaning I’m more than halfway done with my stay. With any luck, work will continue to go smoothly (we are still about five days ahead of schedule). At any rate, all IceCube folks are leaving Feb. 13 on a straight-through flight to Christchurch. After a week decompressing in New Zealand, I am coming back to Chicago on the 21st.

Earlier post SPIFF, Party, Shift Change southpole

Later post One More Week southpole

Blog Posts (140)


Home

Reflections on a Year of Daily Memory Drawings art

Repainting art

Daily Memory Drawings art

Questions to Ask art

Macro-writing Macros code clojure

Lazy Physics code clojure

Fun with Instaparse code clojure

Nucleotide Repetition Lengths code clojure

Updating the Genome Decoder code clojure

Getting Our Hands Dirty (with the Human Genome) code clojure

Validating the Genome Decoder code clojure

A Two Bit Decoder code clojure

Exploratory Genomics with Clojure code clojure

Rosalind Problems in Clojure code clojure

Introduction to Context Managers in Python code python

Processes vs. Threads for Integration Testing code python

Resources for Learning Clojure code clojure

Continuous Testing in Python, Clojure and Blub code clojure python

Programming Languages code

Milvans and Container Malls southpole

Oxygen southpole

Ghost southpole

Turkey, Stuffing, Eclipse southpole

Wind Storm and Moon Dust southpole

Shower Instructions southpole

Fresh Air and Bananas southpole

Traveller and the Human Chain southpole

Reveille southpole

Drifts southpole

Bon Voyage southpole

A Nicer Guy? southpole

The Quiet Earth southpole

Ten southpole

ISO50 southpole art

In Defense of Hobbies misc code art

Closure southpole

Takeoff southpole

Mummification southpole

Eleventh Hour southpole

Diamond southpole

Baby, It’s Cold Outside southpole

Fruition southpole

Settling In southpole

Revolution Number Nine southpole

Red Eye to McMurdo southpole

Faults in Ice and Rock southpole

Bardo southpole

Chasing the Sun southpole

Downhole southpole

Coming Out of Hibernation southpole

Managing the Most Remote Data Center in the World code southpole

Photoshop on a Dime art

Man on Wire misc

Posing Rigs art

Metric art

Cuba southpole

Wickets southpole

Safe southpole

Broken Glasses southpole

End of the Second Act southpole

Pigs and Fish southpole

Last Arrivals southpole

Lily White southpole

In a Dry and Waterless Place southpole

Immortality southpole

Routine southpole

Tourists southpole

Passing Notes southpole

Translation southpole

The Usual Delays southpole

RNZAF southpole

CHC southpole

Wyeth on Another Planet art

Detox southpole

Packing southpole

Nails southpole

Gearing Up southpole

Gouache, and a new system for conquering the world art

Fall 2008 HPAC Studies art

YABP (Yet Another Blog Platform) southpole

A Bath southpole

Green Marathon southpole

Sprung southpole

Outta Here southpole

Lame Duck DAQer southpole

Eclipse Town southpole

One More Week southpole

SPIFF, Party, Shift Change southpole

Good things come in threes, or 18s southpole

Sleepless in the Station southpole

Post Deploy southpole

Midrats southpole

IceCube and The Beatles southpole

Video: Flight to South Pole southpole

The Pure Land southpole

Almost There southpole

There are no mice in the Hotel California Bunkroom southpole

Short Timer southpole

Sleepy in MacTown southpole

Superposition of Luggage States southpole

Sir Ed southpole

Shortcut to Toast southpole

Pynchon, Redux southpole

Flights: Round 1 southpole

Packing for the Pole southpole

Goals for Trip southpole

Balaklavas southpole

Tree and Man (Test Post) southpole

Schedule southpole

How to mail stuff to John at the South Pole southpole

Summer and Winter southpole

Homeward Bound southpole

Redeployment southpole

Short-timer southpole

The Cleanest Air in the World southpole

One more day (?) southpole

One more week (?) southpole

Closing Softly southpole

More Photos southpole

Super Bowl Wednesday southpole

Night Owls southpole

First Week southpole

More Ice Pix southpole

Settling In southpole

NPX southpole

Pole Bound southpole

Bad Dirt southpole

The Last Laugh southpole

Nope southpole

First Delay southpole

Batteries and Sheep southpole

All for McNaught southpole

The Big (Really really big…) Picture southpole

t=0 southpole

Giacometti southpole

Descent southpole

Video Tour southpole

How to subscribe to blog updates southpole

What The Blog is For southpole

Home