Science Diary: Underwater Discoveries - Scatter: The Pulse of the Planet daily radio program offers free legal online mp3 downloads, exploring the world of sound in nature, culture and science, with audio adventures, world music, extraordinary sound portraits, science diaries, and nature ring-tones; an amazing sonic experience.

Airdate: Jul 26, 2012
Scientist: Jules Jaffe

Science Diary: Underwater Discoveries - Scatter

Science Diary: Underwater Discoveries - Scatter
Science Diarist Jules Jaffe is excited about discoveries made on an ocean voyage.

Science Diary: Underwater Discoveries - Scatter

Music; Ambience: Ocean waves

JJ: "So, we did have one of those aha experiences this morning, and I'm really, really excited about this."

JM: Welcome to Pulse of the Planet's Science Diaries, a glimpse of the world of science from the inside. That's Jules Jaffe, of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. He's on a research voyage, trying out a new underwater probe to observe microbes living in the ocean. The probe uses a laser beam to examine how light scatters in the water, giving clues about what creatures might be living there.

JJ: "And the idea of this thing is to look at scatter from individual little microbes and look at the patterns of scatter to see if we can see the differences because all little teeny ellipses seem to look alike in the optical microscope. And so, there's some hope if you go into the whole theory of how optical microscopes work that, in fact, these patterns might be a little different. So, basically, we're trying to invent a new kind of optical microscope. Anyway, we'd set it up on the boat, and we were looking at all the patterns that we got from it. And there were all kind of interference fringes, like little stripy stuff that looked like it was not really telling us what we wanted to know. I'm working with a wonderful recently graduated student. Last night she got a lot of data and this morning I woke up and was really anxious to see it, and the stuff looks fabulous. I'm really, really excited about this. I really think this could be a really interesting and important way of differentiating between new kinds of ocean microbes. And the practicality of this is that I'm writing a proposal and I now have some really great data to put in that proposal. So, this is one of the best kinds of feelings one can get as a scientist when it all comes together, and you feel like, 'Wow. I'm the first person in the world to ever see these scattering patterns.'"

JM: To hear more about Jules Jaffe's research, visit our website at Pulse of the Planet's Science Diaries are made possible by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.