One week of sea level rise recorded by the Sea Leveler.
Now that most of the bugs are out of the system, here is what a one week readout looks like on the Sea Leveler.
A few observations:
- The Sea Leveler is driven by twitter’s own search API, which is not perfect. The rapid dramatic drops are due to twitter updating its search parameters to exclude tweets more than a week old. Thus, the Sea Leveler records increased activity in real time and decreased activity less frequently, but in larger steps.
- I didn’t line the paper up very well, so the dates and times aren’t perfectly calibrated.
- The massive drop on 9 April is slightly more than a week after Boing Boing picked up the Sea Leveler, thus reflecting the tweets resulting from the coverage being purged from the search.
- The vertical lines that drop and return quickly are errors in the search function. The Sea Leveler is programmed not to move if the search function returns 0 tweets (which would indicate a connectivity problem).
- I don’t know what was going on on 12 April, but @johnvanderhoef and @lindsaycthomas were tweeting up a storm from what sounds like a very interesting series of talks.
I’ve currently set the Sea Leveler to record a full month on one roll, so be sure to check back in May to see how it’s going. Until then, keep talking about #sealevelrise!
The Sea Leveler.
Two weeks ago, I announced my latest Hacking the Ocean project, an open-source, Arduino-powered water level meter that monitors the frequency of tweets containing the hashtag #sealevelrise. Since launch, the Sea Leveler has had some bugs and received some good press. Now that I’ve had some time to monitor its performance and work the bugs out of its code, it is finally time for the promised “how to build the Sea Leveler” post.
This project was much more involved than my Arduino build and significantly more rewarding. The Sea Leveler was a challenge on multiple fronts, from learning to make the Arduino talk to twitter to physically modifying the water level meter. As I noted in my first project log, I have very little programming experience, and the major goal of this build was to level up my C++ skills. I’m very happy with the results, both technical and aesthetic.
For simplicity, I’m going to break this into two posts, one for hardware and one for software.
Continue reading Arduino Project Log: Building the Sea Leveler Part 1 — Hardware
I’d like to introduce you to a new series I’ve been working on called “Conservation Conversations”. Each discussion, which will take place first on twitter, will focus on a particular marine conservation issue. I will then Storify and share selected responses here on the blog, allowing the conversation to continue.
The first conservation conversation focused on sustainable seafood. A new paper showed that many fisheries scientists and conservationists believe that the Marine Stewardship Council’s “sustainable seafood” certification process is too lenient, a topic I’ve written about before. I wanted to know how my twitter followers decide what seafood is sustainable. I also asked whether they choose to avoid seafood entirely or focus on sustainable seafood.
Continue reading Conservation Conversations: Sustainable Seafood
We actually watched an Oceanic White-tip take several lunges at the ROV Isis on her way down. Sadly, she was only visible on the umbilical camera (a low-res upward facing camera we use to watch the status of the ROV’s tether), which we don’t record.
Where did that shark come from?
What’s all this about?
Reimbursements and International Travel
Graduate school comes with several financial challenges that require planning and careful attention to details. Chief among these challenges are the two big wallet busters: university reimbursements and international travel. Often these two combine to form a deadly, money sucking hydra. You will inevitably need to pay for something – airline tickets, hotels, fuel, equipment, contractors – out of your personal funds, and then file for reimbursement with your university. Depending on how efficient your finance office is, it could take anywhere from four days to several months for your reimbursement to be issued. If you paid with a credit card, during this time you’re paying interest on those charges.
International travel adds another layer to the mix. Most credit card companies will charge a foreign transaction fee (often 3%), there’s a high degree of variability regarding which networks are accepted where, and many nations have adopted EMV chips (a feature few US cards have) for added security. Whether it’s for a field season or a major scientific conference, you will probably have to make at least one big international trip. If you haven’t planned ahead, you may find yourself stuck with little or no functional currency, and end up leaning heavily on cash advances, travelers checks, or other high fee alternatives.
You should use a credit card to pay for reimbursable expenses, especially travel, if for no other reason than you need money in your bank account for things like food and shelter. If you’ve read my previous post–Credit, why it matters, how to build it, and how to use it–then this should seem familiar. I’m talking about your tank, with some particular caveats for international travel. If you’ve planned ahead and paid attention to the details, you can carry an extra balance for several months without incurring any additional fees.
Continue reading Surviving Grad School: Credit Cards, Reimbursement, and International Travel
Graduate school can be a financially volatile time. Grad students, often living on a low, fixed income, may find that they are required to shoulder unexpected expenses–new computers, travel for research, professional attire, not to mention the cost of relocating to a new area. Many graduate students arrive straight out of university, having never needed to manage a household’s finances. In this situation, credit seems like an appealing solution. If used conservatively, a few reasonable lines of credit can help the struggling graduate student get the most out of their financial situation. If used carelessly, credit can saddle you with massive debt that will follow you for years after graduate school. As we’ve argued in our previous posts about surviving grad school, beyond student loans, earning an advanced degree shouldn’t put you into debt.
But there is another reason to maintain a few active lines of credit. Your credit score is how banks decide whether or not to give you a loan. If you want to buy a house or a car, most people will need to finance that purchase, and for that you need a decent credit score. Having a good credit score will result in lower interest rates and save you money. Many landlords, especially in big cities, require credit checks just to rent an apartment. Credit can also help you out in an emergency. If the transmission drops out of your truck or you have to make a last minute cross-country trip to visit a sick relative, credit will allow you to pay off that expense over a few months, rather than taking a major hit to your savings all at once.
Relying too heavily on credit, and failing to pay of the bills in a timely manner, will crush you with increasingly growing debt. Learning to manage credit is an important life skill, especially in countries like the United States, where credit is king.
Continue reading Surviving Grad School: Credit, why it matters, how to build it, and how to use it
The anemones around Beebe weren’t quite this colorful, but they were still fantastic.
A colorful anemone from the Beebe Vent Field.
What’s this all about?
One very accurate depiction of Rimicaris hybisae.
What’s this all about?
One of the great traditions among deep-sea scientists is the shrinking of polystyrene cups by sending them down to our research sites. Polystyrene (or Styrofoam) is mostly empty space. When sent to the bottom of the sea, the massive pressure (an additional atmosphere for every 10 meters depths) squeezes the air out of these empty spaces reducing the cups–or, in some more dramatic examples, mannequin heads and prop skulls a la Hamlet–to a fraction of their former size. With a little bit of creative doodling during down time, we end up with a nice illustration of this physical phenomenon that is undoubtedly an insufficient gift for our loved ones, of whom we’ve abandoned to spend 30+ days mucking about on a boat*.
Fortunately, on my last expedition, I had the wherewithal to get before and after photographs of each cup the went over the side. So, for your enjoyment, for the next few weeks I’ll be posting some of my favorite shrunken cups. Enjoy!
Welcome to the Cayman Abyss!
*Though, it could be worse. Rumor has it one group of researchers was so confident in their ability to deploy and recover remote deep-sea landers, that they all affixed their wedding rings to the deepest rig before sending it over. Fortunately, it returned, rings unscathed.