What do you do all day?

    Google must have heard me talking about microscopes because this picture from 14 years ago came up on my phone this morning. It's from a time my daughter and I found some weird stuff growing on a frog that was frozen under the ice in our pond. It just reminded me of how exciting it is to discover all the little things in our world.

    Bill's daughter, Willa, looking at frog fungus
    Bills daughter, Willa, looking at frog fungus.

    I put together a short video that might, hopefully, give some insight into what happens when we are "Wormherding". Previously I have posted about collecting samples, extracting organisms from samples and analyzing samples. I think we have analyzed over 250 samples so far this season. This morning we had three left to do.

    Willa's dad, Bill, looking at soil organisms
    Willa's dad, Bill, looking at soil organisms.

    Today as I was doing something un-fun, Byron came in from his work-work to take a counting break. Counting is a therapeutic experience. When you put a sample onto a counting plate you join a few or a few thousand organisms in their little world. If I look frazzled or unmotivated, Jesse will say "Bill, do you want to count for a while?". Soon after Byron came in, Abigail got up to go to the refrigerator to get one for her break. There was only one left. One maybe for the entire season. I had also planned on recording it but had taken the battery out of the camera to charge. I think they were "good" samples too. Not 10,000 rotifers or thick balls of Plectus nematodes. No - a diverse sample from a nicely balanced, not too wet, not too moist soil. Not too much organic matter, and not too little. Lots to see and explore. I don't know who got the last one, but it wasn't me.

    I dug around in the refrigerator and in the back I found a moss sample that was to be the source material for some moss images. I expectantly put that on a counting plate. Yes! It was a "good" one. Good diversity of creatures, living their best life. I tried to record what we see as we are counting the organisms in each soil sample. The camera didn't capture the same field of view as the microscope. There were also depth of field issues because of all the moss. I think it's a pretty representative video of what we do. I hope you enjoy.

    Let me know if you want just a video of reading a slide without the edits and talking. I kind of like the uncut ASMR version myself.

    McMurdo Station, Antarctica
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    is this what you do every day?

    Bill Henske

    Hi Bronson- We have a regular work schedule while in McMurdo starting at 7:30 and ending about 8-9 pm depending on the day. Everyday is different though. When we are in field camps the plan depends on the experiment, distance, amount of time it takes, etc. Days after expeditions we might have a solid week of nothing but 12 hours a day of lab work. Other days (like today) we are just doing chores and little stuff as we wait for helo operations to get cleared. I made some videos you can see on the youtube channel showing some of the lab and field work and what that is like.

    Naomi Teeples

    Did you and your daughter discover what was growing on that frog?

    Bill Henske

    ha. I don't think we ever did, Naomi. The snow covered the ice and then when spring came it wasn't there. I guessed it was a protective mucus that the frog secretes to protect itself during hibernation.

    Derrick Carter

    Can we see one of the samples?

    Bill Henske

    Hi Derrick- I made a video of what it looks like to count one sample. I didnt upload it yet because our internet is so slow. Here is a short version of some of the stuff we see in our samples https://youtu.be/DnXO1j3KZ5s - You might have to copy and paste the link

    Preston Dalbey

    Hi Mr. Henske. How much "Counting" did you do during the trip?

    Bill Henske

    Hi Preston- I was wondering that myself. As a team we have probably counted around 300,000 animals total in our samples. Each experiment is in a different file but if I have a chance I'll see if I can add them all.