Lamont Weekly Report, May 6, 2011

Martin Visbeck and some of his colleagues from Kiel spent this morning at Lamont, to discuss possible collaborations in ocean sciences. Martin is heading up an effort called "Future Oceans," one of Germany's "Excellence Clusters." The idea is to try to institutionalize some of the basic arrangements so that peer-to-peer research collaborations and scholarly exchanges can take place without too much administrative hassle. There is very good potential here, and I'll be working with the Associate Directors and folks at the Earth Institute to get this off the ground. Thanks to Peter Schlosser for setting this up, and to those of you who were able to participate on such short notice.

Dove Pedlosky, our Communications Manager, has asked me to remind everyone that Lamont has a presence on Facebook. I use Facebook mainly to stalk my kids (they know, I think), but I'm convinced that we could be doing much more with social networking, including public outreach and student recruiting. Dove has set up a Facebook Page. Follow this link and click "like."

"We had a lot of luck on Venus/We always had a ball on Mars/Meeting all the groovy people... Come on let's go Space Truckin'" is the theme for a few weeks as we prepare for the new hires coming on board and the big lab renovation in the New Core Lab, not to mention the summer interns. There are space crunches in almost every building; Pat O'Reilly and I have been doing space walks to try to sort out the demands and the constraints. We'll be doing more in the coming weeks. The highest priority is getting ready for demolition on the second floor of NCL. Contrary to popular belief, we will be getting current denizens settled elsewhere before the guys with sledgehammers show up, humming Deep Purple tunes.

'Tis the season for thesis defense talks. As good as those of you defending must feel, and as wonderful as it is to see Lamont's intellectual progeny spew forth, it's somewhat bittersweet to watch as students become colleagues. Time passes. I can only catch a few of the defense talks; I wish I could see all of them. The integration of Lamont and DEES is a unique structure within the University, and the support and mentoring of grad students is one of the most successful outcomes of that partnership. To the defending students: I hope you have gotten as much from us as we have gotten from you.

A Times editorial on Tuesday opined on the definition of a year, stating, "... a task force of geologists and chemists proposed a new unit of measure called the annus - the Latin word for year - which would use the length of time between one equinox or solstice and the same equinox or solstice a year later." The annus is referenced to the year 2000, which was 31,556,925.445 seconds long. Astronomers prefer a Julian year, which is about 11 minutes longer. (I would just use the old thumb rule "pi times 10**7"). There's also an argument about the proposed abbreviation, "a", and whether Ma means "million years" or "million years ago." I think the equinox rule is a good one. (My college band was called "Equinox," but it referenced matters more aquarian than astronomical.) But gimme a break: the most important thing
is whether they can get the pronunciation of "annus" right.