Day 4: You better not break that…

Today was full of learning how to use equipment that is very expensive… and very intimidating.  I started off the day by learning about the XRF, a $50,000 x-ray machine that can detect different elements in artifacts.  I’m pretty sure that this machine will be used to study soil composition (among other things) in Kauai, but I’m not entirely sure if that is my cup of tea.  The second piece of equipment that we used was the spectrometer.  This little metal box is able to view more parts of the EM spectrum than humans can, so it can definitely be used while studying vegetation.  I took a field techniques course last summer in West Virginia, and I think I could definitely get the hang of using the spectrometer if I choose the vegetation project to work on.  The third field technique I learned was GPS.  I really like using the Trimble and Garmin GPS units because you can just walk around a quad, and TA-DA, you have a map (and I really like maps..)!  Finally, we got to the most exciting part of the day: flying a blimp over the CSULB quad!  We blew up a big red blimp and attached two cameras to it so that we could learn how to obtain our own remotely sensed data.  It was quite stressful flying the blimp around, as it was very difficult to communicate with one another and we were always fearful that the cameras would slam into the ground.  It was quite amusing seeing all the boys run to catch the camera as it quickly headed for the concrete; but I think I was more fearful that they would all run into each other at the same time.  Ultimately, I think the blimp will be really useful for studying small plots of vegetation and land cover in Kauai.

In other news, you should check out the cover story of the July 2012 issue of National Geographic.  Our very own Dr. Carl Lipo traveled to Easter Island last year and demonstrated how the famous statues could have been transported across the island.  It comes out tomorrow (6/15), so be sure to buy a copy, or check it out at this link!