As I mentioned in the previous post - the IceTop sensors are now all in the tanks, the tanks are filled and freezing into solid crystal-clear ice around the DOMs embedded in them. We did some work today to open up the doors on the tanks and install sun shields, to allow the water to freeze faster without overloading the DOMs with light. A new, previously unseen problem reared its ugly head when one of the relief hoses sprung a leak, so we had to fix that and add more water to the tank so it would be at the proper level. But as with previous issues, once it was found, it was relatively short work to repair it and get things right back on track.
And now, since IceTop is essentially done, I was put onto a IceCube string deployment team, this time not merely as an observer but as an official active participant!
This was actually my second attempt; Saturday the 12th I was on the swing shift crew starting out a deployment, but (similar to IceTop) we encountered a few unusual problems that only allowed us to place 2 DOMs into the ice that night. That was frustrating for everyone involved!
But last night, we were much more successful. It started a little slow, but once things got going we were able to place a total of 20 DOMs onto the string successfully. Not a blistering pace, but the whole crew was fairly new at deploying so it is understandable that we weren't as fast as the later shift, which has a lot of experienced people.
After a hard day (or night) of deploying, how do we unwind? One of the many recreational events that happens down here at the pole is the weekly Pub Trivia Night. 8 pm Wednesdays, groups gather in the galley to flex their brains against each other and against the trivia master.
Each group is allowed up to six members, and everyone in the group chips in a dollar. This money funds the grand prize at the end of the night, which is a gift certificate for a restaurant back in Christchurch, as well as smaller prizes for the best score in each round. Each round has about 20 questions, written by someone who volunteered the previous week to host the trivia quiz.
Tim Murray, IceCube cable specialist extraordinaire, was the mastermind behind our team. The team members changed from week to week but we tried to have a well-rounded group to increase our chances of success.
So how did we do?
The first week I was there, we did not embarrass ourselves too much... Categories included "how much do you know about the South Pole" (such as the ingredients in the traditional Christmas meal), "weird accomplishments of Polies" (such as who at the pole once raised tigers), and countries around the world (such as, name the two countries that start with the letter A, but do NOT end with the letter A). But when it came down to crappy movies, we were victorious! Such cinematic triumphs as Gigli, Ishtar, and The Adventures of Baron Von Munchausen.
The second week, we did much better. We were consistently in the top two or three in each category, including islands, "famous moms", and art/architecture. But this week as well, we dominated in one category, which happened to be nerd trivia. Sample questions included: "how many wires in a CAT-5 cable and what colors are they?" "how many sides on dice used for Dungeons and Dragons?" "what is the name of the book upon which the movie Blade Runner was based?" and "name the two quarks whose original names were changed because physicists thought they were too weird?"
Week three brought us yet another close competition, again placing second or third in every round except one. Chile, "Today in history" (name what year these things occurred), and original names of famous people (for example, Farrokh Bulsara is more famously known as Freddie Mercury). Our dominant round this week was "comic strip dogs" - given pictures of dogs taken from the funny pages, we had to provide the name of the dog and the comic strip it was from. All the other groups were amazed at our knowledge of Odie from "Garfield", Ruff from "Dennis the Menace", and Otto from "Beetle Bailey". We didn't know the dog from Cathy, because really, who reads that; and I must say I was disappointed in the non-appearance of Fred Basset.
So when it comes to trivia, my team has proven time and again to be the masters of incredibly useless knowledge. This is obviously one of my proudest achievements in my entire trip to the South Pole.