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Signs of time passing

The clock ticks in curious ways in the Arctic. On every research cruise, scientists always want to conduct as much research as they possibly can, but in the Arctic, there’s no darkness to slow down operations—or to give people a visual cue to go to sleep. So many people just work as much as they can and grab short bursts of sleep when they can. Since July 1 when this cruise began, I have slept more than three consecutive hours only once.  So I was waiting for this to happen: Two days ago, I crashed into a deep, dreamless sleep at 9 a.m.—one of those plunge-into-a-black-hole sleeps where you have no sense of time passing. I awoke with a start, looked at the clock near by bed, saw 10:30, and thought that I had finally gotten the 13 hours of sleep I needed. Of course, only 90 minutes had passed, 10:30 a.m. looking just like 10:30 p.m. Oden’s Chief Officer Ola Andersson said it usually happens to him once a summer, or in the endless dark winter when he and Oden have worked in the Bay of Bothnia in northern Sweden. Messman Linda Johansson said sometimes when she takes a nap in the afternoon between lunch and dinner, she wakes up and looks at what she’s wearing to remember what time it is. If she wearing her work clothes, it’s the afternoon. Oden’s Captain Mattias Peterson’s clock said it was time to depart for home at 1730 hours Aug. 1. That meant time was running out for scientists searching for hydrothermal vents and vent animals.

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