Thursday, July 17, 2008

Iceland Bound

I had a wacky proposal not too long ago.

I was shooting the breeze with a planetary geologist at Brown. We were at a reception in April marking the opening of an exhibit on the Moon, the wine was flowing, and hey, all of us were a little chatty.

The geologist, one of the newer folks on the faculty, told me that he and some others in the department were going to Iceland this summer to study land features that offer the best comparison to some surfaces on Mars.

"Ooh, I'd love to go!" I gushed.

"Well," he said, "I think you may be able to. We've got an extra seat in the vehicle, we'll be camping and the food will be paid for already. All you need is a plane ticket over."

That got me to thinking. I had been at my job at Brown for about two months. I had a long way to go before my trial period ended. Should I ask to go?

Hell yes.

I mean, after all, how often does one get invited to Iceland?

So, the next day I emailed the geologist – a subtle nudge in case he had forgotten our conversation. The offer still stood.

Over the next few weeks, we talked more about it, sketching out where the research team was going, how long they would be in the field, what they would be doing, and what I would be doing.

After a couple more weeks, I ginned up a proposal. I met with my supervisor and gave my best shot.

It would be great learning experience, a chance to observe scientists in the field and participate in the experiments, I said.

I would learn more about Mars and the importance of terrestrial analogs to better understand the Red Planet, I argued.

I can file regular dispatches, take pictures and compile photo slideshows for the school's Web site, I added.

It would help broaden Brown's image by showing what faculty are doing around the world, I concluded.

My supervisor hardly blinked an eye. He was on board. It was like love at the first salvo of my presentation.

I bought the plane ticket last week. I mailed the form to renew my passport today. I'm looking for a place to stay in Reykjavik.

I am going to Iceland. Hot damn.

I am a lucky man.

1 comment:

Leeann said...

Hey, that's awesome!

When are you going?