Saturday, October 18, 2008

Science in the cold

The Hidden Valley is a spectacular and remote valley to the north of Dhaulagiri at around 5,000 metres above sea level. Our base camp is situated at the foot of the Damphus Pass in a gloriously sunny spot. Despite the sun it is cold and quite windy. All of this makes science difficult. The various bits of electronic kit are susceptible to the cold, the low atmospheric pressure and the vagaries of the electricity supply. Everything is powered by either solar panel or wind generator and the campsite is a maze of research tents full of people doing exercise step tests, taking blood samples and powering up their bicycle ergometers. A few  machines have failed but there is considerable technical talent amongst the team and most things have been fixed with only a few major failures. All of the various project leaders are now ensconced in their various tents with an ever willing stream of subjects who, themselves, double as subjects. All battling against this most unlikely environment in which to do science.


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