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Expeditions

Expeditions


Field notes from the far reaches of exploration
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    Ever wonder what it's really like to be working in Antarctica or collecting core samples from the middle of the Pacific Ocean? Get a first-hand feel for scientific exploration by following the blog posts of researchers out in the field.
  • Neutrinos on Ice: Detection Balloon Heads to Antarctica

    An artist's depiction of a cosmic ray air shower. Credit: Simon Swordy (U. Chicago), NASA.

    Editor’s Note: Welcome to ANITA, the ANtarctic Impulsive Transient Antenna! In late October, the ANITA collaboration is traveling to Antarctica to build and launch ANITA III, a scientific balloon that uses the entire continent of Antarctica for neutrino and cosmic ray detection. This is the first installment in a series, “Neutrinos on Ice,” documenting that effort. Right now, somewhere [...]

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    MIT Neurotech: Mapping the Brain with Connectomics

    A synapse. An upstream cell, here an amacrine interneuron shown in yellow, sends impulses to a downstream cell, shown in blue, which if excited in the right way will then propagate the signal down its axon to other cells. Image by Alex Norton from data analyzed by deep learning algorithms and gamers in the citizen neuroscience game EyeWire.

    We can make movies using atoms as characters, grow organs and even skydive from space, yet when it comes to understanding the finer details of the 1.3 kilogram organ behind each person’s eyes – the brain – we’re mostly in the dark. Neuroscientists do not even know how many different types of cells it contains, much less how [...]

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    The Return to Nepal: In Search of Soot

    Ulyana Horodyskyj drilling on the frozen surface of Spillway Lake, Ngozumpa glacier, Nepal. She is studying the thermal properties of the water, through temperature sensor buoys in the depths of the lake.

    Editor’s Note: This is the first installment in a new series by Ulyana Horodyskyj, who chronicled an earlier expedition to Nepal in a series called, “Climbing Mount Everest,” which can be found by clicking here. Horodyskyj’s work focuses determining how airborne particles such as dust and soot that settle on massive glaciers alter how snow [...]

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    Return to the Antikythera Shipwreck: Treasures Found (and Maybe a Second Ship)

    Divers uncovered a red terracotta jar still intact, about a foot and a half high, probably for serving wine.

    Editor’s Note: Veteran science journalist Philip Hilts is working with a team of archeologists, engineers and divers off the shore of Antikythera, a remote Greek island, where a treasure ship by the same name sank in 70 B.C. New, high-tech gear is allowing the team for the first time to examine and excavate a wreck [...]

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    The Lawson Trek: Finding Something New

    Either this is the only existing portrait of John Lawson or there isn’t one. It’s the right time period, the right attitude, the right name, and the right artist, but questions remain (for example, Lawson was never knighted, but the portrait’s history identifies him as “sir”).  Source: From the private collection of Elizabeth Sparrow. Used by kind permission.

    Editor’s note: For The Lawson Trek, journalist Scott Huler is retracing the journey of discovery undertaken by canoe and on foot in 1700-1701 by John Lawson, the first observer to carefully describe and catalogue the flora, fauna, geography and inhabitants of the Carolinas. For all the posts in the series, click here. We cannot get [...]

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    MIT Neurotech: Microfluidics Opens a Window Into Unseen Worlds

    “The world of the small is intriguing and fascinating — at this scale water behaves like honey and cells can be made to glow like Christmas lights.” (Albert Folch Lab, University of Washington)

    A 14-foot aluminum alloy robot hurdles through the black of space at 13,000 miles per hour. For 350 million miles, its load of scientific instruments built t0 detect X-rays and analyze minerals sits isolated, periodically pinging the craft’s home planet. Eight months after lift-off, the craft nears its destination as a distant red dot becomes [...]

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    Return to the Antikythera Shipwreck: The Exosuit’s First Mission

    O’Brien tests the Exosuit’s capabilities as he descends.

    Editor’s Note: Veteran science journalist Philip Hilts is working with a team of archeologists, engineers and divers off the shore of Antikythera, a remote Greek island, where a treasure ship by the same name sank in 70 B.C. New, high-tech gear is allowing the team for the first time to examine and excavate a wreck [...]

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    Return to the Antikythera Shipwreck: Technology Tackles Dangers of the Deep

    Diver Phil Short  wears his scuba rebreather (the red case). Two gas tanks and a computerized breathing system are on his back, and he holds two extra yellow tanks for emergencies. (Credit: Evan Kovacs, Argo)

    Editor’s Note: Veteran science journalist Philip Hilts is working with a team of archeologists, engineers and divers off the shore of Antikythera, a remote Greek island, where a treasure ship by the same name sank in 70 B.C. New, high-tech gear is allowing the team for the first time to examine and excavate a wreck [...]

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    MIT Neurotech: From Signals to Behavior

    “A typical neuron in the mammalian brain receives thousands of synaptic inputs and sends out information through thousands of output synapses. Experience alters the brain by making, modifying or eliminating these synapses. To facilitate the study of these processes in living brain tissue, the individual parts of the neuron can be labeled using fluorescent proteins. In this image, one neuron is labeled in red using a cytosolic dye introduced through a microelectrode. Green puncta are individual synapses (each synapse is around 1 micron in size).” (Image by Venkatesh Murphy, Harvard University)

    You’re sitting outside posting pics of a beautiful day to Facebook when the smell hits you. A spicy, cheesy, carne asada-ey deliciousness that can only mean one thing: a burrito truck is near. Hound-like, you hunt your lunch. An impending Mexicali meal will soon satiate your suddenly growling stomach. You finally arrive, brave a bending [...]

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    Return to the Antikythera Shipwreck: Marine Archaeology Goes High-Tech

    The Antikythera Mechanism (fragment A) on display in the National Archaeological Museum, Athens, Greece. (Credit: Tilemahos Efthimiadis via Flickr)

    Editor’s Note: Veteran science journalist Philip Hilts is working with a team of archaeologists, engineers and divers off the shore of Antikythera, a remote Greek island, where a treasure ship by the same name sank in 70 B.C. New, high-tech gear is allowing the team for the first time to examine and excavate a wreck [...]

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