Berkeley Lab

Epilogue to a Travelogue

The Oceanus passes under the Bay Bridge as it docks in San Francisco. (Credit: Kelly J. Owen/Berkeley Lab)It has been nearly two and a half weeks since I stepped off the research vessel Oceanus, and the phantom swaying motions have already dissipated. It wasn’t a particularly long trip. Just 10 days. But it was enough to provide some insight into the unpredictable, frustrating, time-consuming, exciting and inspiring process of scientific innovation and discovery in the field.

Witnessing part of the journey to getting publication-worthy results and innovative new devices was eye-opening. Not a day went by without some new problem emerging that had to be overcome or puzzled through. When you are 350 miles offshore, you cannot run to your neighborhood hardware store to pick up new screws or a new motor, so problems are tackled on site in less-than-optimal conditions. It’s a situation, I’m sure, that is universal to all manner of field research.

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