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Dispatches from the Southern Ocean Gas Exchange Experiment

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Rub the toe

Posted by sogasex on February 29, 2008

By David Ho, LDEO

Before coming down to Punta Arenas, I consulted with my colleague Tim Newberger at LDEO, because he comes down here frequently to service the underway pCO2 system they have installed on the RVIB Laurence M. Gould. One of the things he gave me was a wallet sized map of Punta Arenas, with a few markings that he had made (e.g., good restaurants, where to get good coffee, etc.) An items on the map stood out: “Rub the toe”. He explained that there was a statue there, and mariners rub its toe for good luck before setting sail.

When I came upon the square and the statue with some colleagues, we naturally looked for the toe. It was not difficult to find (hint: it’s the shiny one). There was some debate as to which toe one was supposed to rub, and the consensus was that it was the big toe (although there seems to have been spillage onto all the other toes). We also debate whether rubbing the toe meant a safe return to Punta Arenas, to Patagonia, or to land in general. We’re not sure. Since our final destination is Montevideo in Uruguay, some thought that rubbing the toe wouldn’t be prudent. We also pondered whether a majority of the people from one ship needed to rub the toe in order for it to take effect. None of this uncertainty kept us from rubbing the toe.

On the science front, people continue to setup and assemble their equipment around the ship and in various labs. The shipment for the Oregon State group finally arrived, and they have started frantically assembling everything. We’re still waiting for the shipment for the NOAA/PMEL group, which is supposed to arrive tomorrow, just in time for our scheduled departure at 5 PM.


Pete Strutton from Oregon State sheepishly rubbing the toe while the locals and his colleagues looked on


View of the Main Lab, packed with scientific equipment


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