Just got paid, Friday night, tardi hoppin’, feelin’ right (Susan)

We've traversed Shanghai in search of tardigrades. Here, Kristin scrapes moss off of a sidewalk. This sample yielded only rotifers and nematodes.

HOUSTON, WE HAVE TARDIGRADES.

That’s right, today, July 9, 2010, may you emblazon it upon your calendars and may Google change its homepage graphic in our honor… today is the day that we found the first Shanghai tardigrades!

We took an excursion to the French Concession today to collect samples, and there found the first lichen we’ve seen on any trees in Shanghai. The area was rife with guards in red armbands (you know who they were — I’m trying to avoid buzzwords here), so the tree could not be accessed without a distraction. Fortunately, Julie Andrews inspired us once again, and Kristin began hopping up and down on some nearby steps, loudly singing the “Do-Re-Mi” song from The Sound Of Music. This was sufficiently strange, and attentions were focused on Kristin as I jumped onto a platform to liberate the lichen.

Yes, the lives of tardi-hunters are certainly thrilling. I may become superstitious about recreating the exact conditions under which the first tardi appeared under our microscope. Happily, I was wearing my pajamas.

This weekend, we’re off to the Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics to meet the other members of Team Selene and talk strategy for how best to send the tardis to space. A briefing on the experiment is here. (Note: I just realized the “mini astronauts” hyperlink on that page directs to Dr. Goldstein’s lab at UNC. And everything comes full circle…)

Anyways, it’s off to celebrate our victory! Now that we number among the ranks of fellow discoverers Vespucci, Fleming, Tombaugh, etc, I leave you with this picture of what serious scientists look like when they are taken out to lunch and eat berries that make their tongues go all tingly:

Ahhh, mah tung ith numb!!!

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4 Responses to Just got paid, Friday night, tardi hoppin’, feelin’ right (Susan)

  1. ivan says:

    oh i thought you were kidding when you said you were looking for tardis in china. why doesn’t your lab just buy more/are you just doing it for fun now…?

    • Ivan! And Readers. A little clarification: we needed to find wild Shanghai-ese tardigrades not only because it (to our knowledge) has never been done before, and there’s a fair chance that we discovered a new species (!) …. but also because in order to send our tardis into space, we/Team Selene need a lot of tardigrades, and preferably a replenishable source of tardis in the wild. The tardis we smuggled from Italy in a pair of socks fared decently, but having a place we know we can return to in China to start new tardi cultures whenever we want to is crucial.

      Plus….. it’s awesome.

  2. bob and sally says:

    We are enjoying every word and photo! We will be in

    bloomington until mid-sept. Plenty of hard working physicists to answer questions. Come visit if you can work it into your schedual….

  3. Bobbie says:

    The fact that you referenced Just Got Paid and the Sound of Music in one posting makes me so happy. Also… don’t pretend that you ever do research in anything other than pajamas. Hope everything is going well!

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