Geoff Sims @ UNSW
Home South Pole Diaries 2012/13 19th December, 2012


Wednesday, 19th December, 2012

Luke and Campbell (John)

Today was a "rest" day in Christchurch, and it turned out to be incredibly productive. Luke and Campbell, two engineers who had played a major part in the design and construction of PLATO-R last year, flew down from Auckland to join us in a full-on all-day planning meeting. We commandeered the hotel library, and hooked my laptop up to the big flat-screen TV, then went through all the photos from last year's expedition. Luke and Campbell are now employed in the yachting industry designing carbon-fibre components, and it was very generous of them to take a day's leave to come down to chat to us.

Clockwise from left: Campbell, Daniel, Geoff, Nic and Luke contemplate an alarmingly large image of one of the diesel engines.

In January 2012, Luke, Campbell and Craig, together with the field camp leader, Loomis, spent four days at Ridge A installing PLATO-R. Their experiences were amazingly helpful to us, as they fleshed out many details that we had not even thought about before. By the end of the day, we had not only figured out a plan for servicing PLATO-R, but had also solved many of the world's most challenging social and political issues. By the end of a very fine dinner, and some excellent NZ wines, philosophical problems that had previously challenged some of history's greatest thinkers were also starting to yield some surprising new insights.

Clockwise from left: Me, Nic, Geoff, Abe, Luke, Craig, Daniel, Campbell hard at work.

For me it was a hugely invigorating and enjoyable day. There is nothing quite like getting together with a bunch of incredibly bright people pooling their collective expertise to address cutting-edge technical problems. For the other hotel guests it was all perhaps a bit mysterious, as the day was frequently punctured by raucous laughter and much hilarity. For example, it might not be immediately obvious to non-geeks why it is hilariously funny to learn that it is impossible to blow a 30 amp slo-blo fuse by simply shorting out a massive bank of 120 volt lithium batteries with a connector. As Daniel explained, the connector contacts vapourise at a faster rate than you can push them together, as attested by the photos of his blackened hands and the spray of molten metal on the floor.


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