Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Magnificence of Serious Science

My husband is an amazing man, in case I have never said it before. Ever since he was 15 years old, he has 'known' that he was going to get his PhD and be a scientist who does, as Meg vaguely puts it, "magnificent things". And he does, too. He is widely regarded as a leader in his discipline and an authority on the subject of how UV radiation interacts with organisms, as well as other arcane things. At present he is co-primary investigator for an EPA project related to the whole greenhouse gas flap, which is endeavoring to take a measure of just how much greenhouse gases are emitted by farms. Some of this gas comes from machinery and animals but a good deal of it also comes from waste lagoons and manure. Rich is in charge of the job of measuring the gasses from the latter. He's had to design a system of special instruments to do this, and the sites measured will be all over the country and postioned on all types of animal farm operations: pork, poultry, beef and dairy.

One of the most crucial of the instruments is something called an odameter. It's for measuring hydrogen sulfide which is what makes the human petard so enchanting. His technicians and postdocs have been busy making sure this instrument is properly calibrated and tested at all times. Their testing methods involve going out to Mexican restaurants for bean dishes and seeing who can max out the meter most gloriously.

This is not exactly a glamorous job, but Al Gore certainly isn't about to do it.

And what does my dedicated husband say about this practise?

"Whatever keeps up morale" he philosophises.


Anonymous Andy said...

You should pass this on to the Discovery Channel, specifically DIRTY JOBS WITH MIKE ROWE. His is one of my favorite shows... and I believe that Rich has a dirty, dirty job for him!

4:09 PM  

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