Latitude : -63 21. 5941 Longitude : -53 24.2078
Has anyone else heard this time and time again? It is very rare that we, as scientists (or people in general for that matter) get things exactly right the first time we try something. Whether it be an experiment, such as trying to get worms to glow on a ship (more on that later), or simply tying your shoes. When it comes to running experiments, we usually just say something along the lines of well you learned one way that it doesn’t work, now you just need to find one way that it does following Thomas Edison’s famous quote, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”. This idea rings as true today as it did in the late 1800s. The scientific method is a process and requires research, several preliminary trials to test out our ideas, more research, a failed attempt (or 2), and sometimes just going back to the drawing board to redesign a whole project. These. Things. Happen. I am not saying that you can never do anything right the first time, just that it is not common. I used to think that everything needed to be perfect before I could even start an experiment, but when I was a brand new graduate student, my advisor at the time told me that I should just try what I had and see what needed to be fixed. Trial and error. It seems like a simple idea, but when you’re passionate about a subject, it can sometimes be a tough pill to swallow.
Since we have reached the ice on the RVIB Nathaniel B. Palmer, we have been collecting so many awesome invertebrates! I am still quite partial to the annelids, or segmented worms as can be seen in the photos here (look at the iridescent one :) ) and especially the ones that glow! When we were on deck going through a sample last week in the dark during wee hours of the morning, Damien said, “Candace look! I think this worm is glowing!”. Sure enough, it was! If it hadn’t been for the dark, I am not sure we ever would have seen them glow, but we did and hopefully sometime soon, I will be able to share nice photos or videos of them glowing or bioluminescent (but not yet… we are still in the trial and error stage – see red light photo of sample containers). Currently, I just like to go enjoy the bright flashes of yellow in the dark and freezing cold room on the ship that we call Big Antarctica. This room allows us to keep animals alive in an environment that they are accustomed to I have a few different methods to try to record the bioluminescence going forward, but until then I am remaining in the mindset of, “Hmm well that’s interesting… Maybe try this instead?”
Dr. Candace J. Grimes
Postdoctoral Researcher in the Halanych Lab