How Scientists Look for the Truth

Today I toured around the work stations of each of the scientists studying Modified Circumpolar Deep Water: Drs. Josh Kohut, Chris Measures, Phoebe Lam, Angelicque White, Allen Milligan, and Adam Kustka. They’re all here because they have a hypothesis about how MCDW contributes to the summer blooms of phytoplankton that provide so much food to the animals of the Ross Sea.

As the expedition goes on, we’ll look at each of these scientists’ work in detail, but today I just wanted to know how their work all fits together. One of the most basic aspects of being a scientist is using the scientific method. You observe a pattern, you suggest a hypothesis to explain it, and then you think of ways to test that explanation to see if it’s the right one. Some hypotheses are easy to test, but this one stretches across so many scientific fields that it takes six separate experts—spanning physics, chemistry, biology, and engineering. Read on through the slideshow and we’ll break down those parts one by one:

That’s an introduction to the scientists who are studying Modified Circumpolar Deep Water. Four other groups are on board as well, studying other parts of the Ross Sea. These are led by Dr. Bruce Huber of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Dr. Walker Smith of Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences, Dr. Rebecca Gast of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and Dr. Bob Sanders of Temple University. We’ll tell you about them in coming posts—starting with Dr. Huber tomorrow.

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About Hugh Powell

Hugh is a staff writer at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and is on special assignment with the Rutgers University Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences. He has previously written for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

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