The last few weeks have been both eventful and calm. Highs: 1) Brandon arrived in Finland for a 2-month visit! 2) I got my laser! 3) The green-up has really taken hold, so the scenery and weather are fully ‘summer’ now, which you can see below by how thawed my wetland site is. Low: 1) Carol, my PolarTREC teacher has left.
I have spent the last 2 weeks here in Kuopio dancing attendance upon an analytical machine by the name of a GC-IRMS. This stands for Gas Chromatograph Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometer. I’m just gonna call it the IRMS from here on out. The IRMS is the machine that analyzes the isotopic signature of various compounds, and it does this thanks to a really big, really fancy magnet.
I don’t know how many of you already know this, but my dissertation research centers on two microbial processes: methanogenesis, and the anaerobic oxidation of methane (lovingly abbreviated as ‘AOM‘). These processes are two sides of the same biogeochemical coin, and that coin is methane (you may also know or have seen this written as CH4). Methane is one of the current world’s ‘trace gases’, or a gas which comprises less than 1% of the total atmosphere. Despite its relatively minor volumetric contribution, methane is a more potent ‘heat-trapping’ greenhouse gas than the more abundant gases CO2 and water vapor. Let’s therefore assume that it’s a worthy and fascinating research topic, and move on. This is an adorable crocheted molecule of methane that I got as a present a few years ago, that I uninspiringly named Methane:
Why does your nose run so much in the cold?
In the cold, your nose works like a radiator. To keep your nose warm, your body increases blood flow to your nose and the blood vessels expand so that as much warm blood as possible pumps through your nose. 92% of blood is water and because of all that extra blood flowing under the skin-surface of your nose, the water starts to drip out of your nose. The minute you go inside your nose warms up, the blood vessels contract and your nose will stop dripping. This mechanism is astoundingly reliable. In the cold, your nose works like a leaky radiator.
Visiting Kim in Finland
A particular favorite phrase of Finns (at least the ones I listen to on the radio and watch on the TV) is ‘se on totta’ [say on toe-tah], which literally means ‘it’s true’. There was a similar phrase in Hausa (‘gaskiya’, gas-key-ah), that was also used to express a sort of camaraderie of thought – like a verbal version of a fist-pound to your heart/chest to express that you believe the person/thought to be (in the) right. I find myself thinking this phrase a lot lately – not sure if it’s a sign of a more relaxed and resigned attitude, but there it is. Example: this forest is stunning. Se on totta!