Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Bill Taylor - California teacher visits Lake Pavilion

Brought to you by Bill Taylor, California High School Physics teacher. Bill is working this summer with Alfonso Davila/NASA Ames as part of the STAR, a teacher training program.

Pictured Emily dela Cruz, Bill Taylor and Alfonso Davila.

Long trip. The camp was not ready for us when we arrived at 12 midnight. Donnie really did extra duty to come pick us up, finding out that we were waiting there at 11:30pm.
A somewhat uncomfortable night’s sleep. Sheets were not clean.
First Day
Uncertainty who was who, what plates and utensils to use for eating. Intros at AM meeting. Emily uncomfortable with that.
Fortunately Darlene asked us what we needed for comfort and we got a much better room. Emily cleaned half the day. Emily and I are greatly relieved!
Recover from trip – very sleepy until after long nap. Then energetic, studied the AP-physics I teach next year
Evening meeting. I hope I don’t get assigned to anything because I still need to study physics. Apparently there is an education person I am supposed to speak with.
Second Day
Alfonso and I sat under the canopy in a beautiful spot and tried to get the Raman to be useful. I don’t think we really understand it.
The divers brought up a “microbialite” or “chimney” from the lake for study! Looks really cool (pic). Some facts (?) I got from Darlene as they were carving it up:
• These were very common in Earth’s early history, very uncommon now.
• Don’t know what creates them – that’s the whole point of the research they’re doing
• What happened in the history of the lake that allowed these to exist here (and not in most nearby lakes)? There is a nearby lake that has some of these but they look different.
• There is biology on the surface – cyanobacteria (green) and some “pods” of another color – what are these pods and why are they there? Are they part of why these structures are created?
• The microbialites could be created biologically, perhaps from the poop of the cyanobacteria on the surface or of the pods
• If we can find out what are the conditions under which they are created, they might turn out to be a good analog for Mars.
Darlene cut the microbialite cross-section with a regular hand saw! They bagged several portions, some for archiving for use at a later date and some for various science members to study now.
• Cross section cut shows layers of colors – maybe iron oxides (rust color)
• Part of it brakes off showing spherical shells [pic] – why?
• Some of them are “oxic” meaning that photosynthesis is happening - cyanobacteria
• Some are anoxic – not sure that this means exactly
• They do know that there is some cell-signaling in the biology. I think this means that the bacteria cells “talk” to each other by unknown mechanisms and this is how they make “slime”.
• Question: what does “microbialite” mean?
• Some scientists think that it will take 10 years to determine the answers
• If they are not created by biology, they might be created by chemical action of the various constituents in the water.
• It’s a ground-water fed lake, so they want to look at the different waters coming in (and leaving?) the lake, and also at various layers in the lake
So I can see now that, as on the Desert Trip (Spaceward Bound Mojave 08), there are various scientists from various places (all over the country) looking at these things using their own expertise and interests. The collaboration is really important because no one of them knows everything. They obviously know that collaboration is important because they like to talk with one another and share the science, and they also are extremely willing to share resources, equipment, time etc. with one another – pretty cool!

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