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To the Ends of the Earth

Cosmic Variance
By cjohnson
May 29, 2006 10:34 PMNov 5, 2019 8:09 AM


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One of the reasons I like this blog is the extended community that we have been able to build, due to all of you who read us, spread the word about us, and carry on the discussions offline. Thanks. We have readers from quite a diverse set of walks of life, careers, ages, and locations. I think that the letter I received a few days ago was from one of the most remote locations I can think of on this planet. I find it quite exciting! The writer, Denis Barkats, permitted me to reproduce it here:

I browse you guys' blog now and then and I have to admit I really enjoy it. I decided to write to you today about the post named Jacaranda time, because I know exactly the feeling when those start blooming in the LA area and given my current situation, It has a special ring to me right now. I am a postdoc at Caltech with Andrew Lange's observational cosmology group. And I clearly remember the time when I came to interview for the position during the Month of Mai. I could not belive the intense color of those trees (Jacaranda trees whose names I did not know at the time). I absolutely loved it and eventually accepted the postdoc offer ( not just for the trees). And right now, seeing your post on your blog, I am reminded at how beautiful spring can be in Pasadena. Right now, I am at the South Pole at the US Amundsen-Scott South pole station. I'm the winterover for the BICEP experiment (a CMB polarization telescope aiming to look for B-mode polarization).We are in the middle of the austral winter. It's -80F outside on average although it can dip down to -100F sometimes. It's pitch dark. And we are in the middle of a sterile, arid, desertic, moon-like landscape, at 11000ft, on the polar plateau. So the sight of the deep purple trees, strikes a special string in my memory. Anyway, so enjoy the spring there. Best, Denis

Wow! Antartica! I don't know why, but it's just great to know we're helping a little bit to spread some warmth to the furthest corners of the Earth. It is nice to be contributing to global warming in a positive way! ;-) Denis was kind enough to share something with us as well:

PS: Here are some sights you probably don't get, a few aurora australis photos.

(Click for larger versions. Two are from Denis, and another two are from Robert Schwarz who is another winterover, working on another CMB polarization experiment, QUAD. I already used the second one at the top of this post, by the way.) Denis invited me to ask him about some of the physics of the BICEP experiment, and also life in Arntartica. He has a blog about some of this and his adventures down below at this link, and I must say that it is fascinating. You can also find links to other blogs from Antartica visitors there too, such as that of Robert Schwarz, here. I suspect that several of you might have questions too. Feel free to ask Denis via the comments thread, and I hope that when Denis (and others) get a moment or two, they might get a chance to reply. Then we'll all learn some really exciting stuff! Thanks Denis, and Stay Warm! -cvj

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