Working in the fog project has been an interesting experience. I have learned about the different instruments used in measuring air quality and how to assemble/disassemble and program them. One of the instruments we use is the Caltech Active Strand Cloudwater Collector (CASCC). We learned many things about the design of this instrument and how the materials from which it is made of and the way in which these materials are arranged increase the efficiency in fog collection. We essentially prepared and made sure we knew how to use all the instruments, understand how they work and the importance of this data in the bigger picture of the BETA project.
Learning to use CASCC. Steven and Juliana in the picture, hands behind the camera belong to Dr. Shen.
Learning how to use the MiniVol Sampler. Claire and Juliana in the picture, hands behind camera belong to Dr. Shen.
However, with all of the conceptual elements behind what we are doing in the BETA project, we have not been able to actually collect any fog this year. The great dependence on the whether leaves us stagnant, unable to move forward in the project. Of all the knowledge there is, we cannot change or predict with complete certainty what the weather will bring. We are defenseless against it. A good fog morning or night is all we need, it is all we asking for to Theoi Meteroi. Please, sweet God of weather, send us a foggy morning here in Iowa! We cannot wait eternally for you to change your mind and give us the condensed cloudlike water vapor we have been dreaming with. We need our fog because we want to use our instruments, collect it, analyze what hides below the surface and diffuses when hot water and cold surfaces come into contact. So far, we have done everything we can do, prepare ourselves, be ready for the desired foggy morning. The only thing we can do now is be patient.
The fog project reminded me of one thing: research is a mix of hard work and luck. It is true that you have to make a plan, study it, make sure you know what you are doing and you know what you are looking for. However, sometimes there is a luck component in research. A component that cannot be predicted, that cannot be controlled like we control various parameters in the lab and see what happens when we do. This luck component is apparently random. This component for us is the weather. The waiting time keeps us in a stagnant state, the time seems to get longer and longer and we are still waiting. Waiting for the fog, waiting for the luck to come our way.
Regardless of the waiting time, the fog project has also been really an interesting experience because it has showed me how research in different fields goes.
On this page we'll post updates of the BETA Project's progress- stay tuned!