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: