Data Compression: Benchmarking Performance on Generic Data

Data compression is one of those things that most people don’t really think about. We all know about the benefits of using a ZIP file if our attachment is too large or if we have a bunch of files we want to share with someone over email. Outside of those niche uses, data compression by the end user has largely fell by the wayside in our day of terabyte hard drives and massive USB dongles. And that may be just as well since we’re likely more productive not having to go through the extra step of unpacking an archive before using...

Why I’m looking forward to moving out of the south

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed my past year and a half, almost two years, living in Tallahassee. The often forgotten capital of Florida has served me well and I’ve made friends down here that I wouldn’t sacrifice for anything, yet I already know that my days down here are limited. After having grown up in Massachusetts and attending undergraduate at Boston College, it took a bit of adjustment when I first moved down here in January of 2015. Since then I’ve gotten to know the city through my weekend adventures, during those beers after work, and on the trips...

Getting Started in 3D Printing

As someone who enjoys working on projects and tinkering with everything from computer systems to welders, I’ve always had a passive interest in 3d printing technology; yet I never seriously considered getting a one for myself. 3d printers work in much the same way a normal printer does, except instead of ejecting ink out of the nozzle it extrudes molten plastic. By layering these thin layers of plastic (typically 50-500 microns) over and over again it can build up entire objects in a matter of minutes to hours. It’s a simple technology which seems to have only recently gained the critical mass...

Call me Ishmael: Seahab

Living on a ship for three weeks means that you pick up a few tidbits of knowledge such as the difference between tieing a bend and a hitch, but a term that is rather unique to sailing on National Science Foundation (NSF) vessels is Seahab. All research vessels control the supply of alcohol on board, and thus the intake of alcohol while at sea (personal caches are not permitted). Many ships will serve a beer with dinner or provide a coupon for a drink at some other time. NSF has taken the extra step of making all of their vessels...

Call me Ishmael: Professional Insomnia

All professionals accept that there will be occasions when work gets in the way of sleep and that odd hours me be required to get the job done. Generally this interruption in sleep is temporary and isolated to project deadlines or mission critical tasks, but for scientists aboard research vessels this may be a de facto state. Now I must preface this discussion with the fact that every cruise is different, and the majority of such cruises have set, regular schedules–such as 12 on/12 off—which permit a normal sleep schedule. What I’ll be describing here is my own schedule during...

Announcing a new series: Call me Ishmael

To commemorate my first cruise, as well as organizing the next set of articles by theme, there will be a new series of posts titled “Call me Ishmael” dealing with the 2016 CCE RAPID cruise. This cruise, CCE-P1604 to be precise, has been chock full of new experiences which may be beneficial for my own planning before future cruises or for others who would like to know what a research cruise is like. The articles will generally span the gambit from the scientific method that we utilize during the cruise to general observations about life at sea aboard a ship....

Daily Dose: Radiation Trouble

Update: See update section following the article for the latest. I recently described in general terms a new method that I’m developing which uses Yttrium to estimate the carbon export from the ocean’s photic zone, so today I saw it fitting to rant about an issue I’m currently facing. Assuming that you have either read that previous article or are familiar with the Thorium Disequilibrium method, then it should be no surprise that the “signal” for which we are attempting to measure from the radionuclide is the decay of the Y-90 into Zirconium. This decay, which results in the emission...

California Current: Cruise

So as many of you know, most of my work to date has been on the California Current ecosystem and, in particular, on modeling the ecosystem there. In just a few short days I’ll be heading out from the Scripps pier for a 22 day cruise. The goal for the cruise is to measure the ecosystem extending from the nutrients through the zooplankton and up into some of the higher trophic levels in order to assess the impact of El Nino on the ecosystem. This data will be used in conjunction with ~6 previous CCE cruises in the area (all...