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Ellen McCallie's Diary

Day 6: Properties of Gold

I invited Kathy and Kate for a nice omelet breakfast, but instead of waking up at 5 am, I jumped out of bed when Kathy knocked on my door to eat at 7 am. Kathy began cooking as I dressed. Then the three of us finished cooking, ate, and headed over to the helicopters.

Photo: Mike and Ellen in the helicopterThat first helicopter ride was, well, full of great views, but two turns just turned my stomach and head over. I felt quite sick afterwards. The second helicopter ride was incredible. Just like watching one of those wide screen specialty movies in museums. Whoosh, Voom. Up. Over. Turn. We found a river and followed it. Beautiful, exquisite, and no sharp turns, just some pretty immediate verticals -—that's what helis are good for! Tuckey is a fabulous pilot.

I felt really good about the filming Mike B. and I did today. We got most of the science points made during our short flight to the river. In terms of panning, I was really surprised we didn't hit on a more concentrated gold line. It is going to be a whole lot of lugging rock and water for an itsy-bitsy bit of gold tomorrow.

Photo: Mike and Ellen at the riverSome have already asked how I feel about doing a non-botany project. My basic reaction is that I'm trained as a scientist. You can't be a botanist without a decent chemistry, physics and biology background. I'm not offended nor are my feelings hurt that I am not working with plants. In fact, I am pleased that I'm allowed to cross over when needed.

Another question I've gotten was about how "we scientists" know so much about stuff. Heck, if you were being sent to New Zealand to solve challenges, what would you do? I'm a field scientist mostly, with botany/ecology being my specialty, so I read everything about the natural history of New Zealand before I go. I read and read and read, not just about plants, either. I also check out websites. The reading provides me with some related background usually, but then we are on our own to actually do something that applies the knowledge we've gained.

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Photo: Ellen McCallie
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