As an insider, I can somewhat understand how non-scientists might think that lab scientists are not terribly metal. But if you even suggest that field scientists are less than metal, I will CUT you. Scientists that do field work venture out into the wild to get dirty, get bit by bugs, and generally put themselves in mortal danger.

First there’s the task of just getting to your field sites. After 24 torturous hours of airport layovers and flying to get to Uruguay, we still need to rent a sturdy enough truck to get through the flash floods, fallen trees, and generally poor road conditions. I named this truck Obsydian:

Obsydian killed at least two birds on the highway.

That truck was badass because it never let us down. The roads down there are never great, but the locals don’t usually go through the trouble to warn you when they’re especially bad. When you do, you know you’re REALLY putting your life in peril. Totally metal peril.

Translation: Bridge in bad condition.

Our field site was many kilometers past this sign, and there was no way we could lug all the equipment there and still have time to finish sampling the vegetation before sundown. So what did we do? We drove across the fucking bridge, of course. We drove across it fast.

While working in the field, a scientist might come across  signs like this:

These suckers will KILL you.

The coral snakes that live in Uruguay are incredibly poisonous, and therefore very metal. Luckily for me, they’re skittish, so I haven’t actually seen one yet myself. The actual snakes look like this:

Micrurus altirostris. Picture courtesy of D.

This picture was taken close to our field sites, so I know that the snakes are nearby while I’m crouched in the grass, measuring leaf sizes or whatever. It’s comforting to know that such metal critters are always with me, ready to kill me at a moment’s notice.

Speaking of leaves, some of the plants will cut you before you even realize you’re bleeding. It’s pretty great.

This was a very small cut for how infected it became later.

I won’t put anything worse up, since most of you are likely of the faint-hearted type. Just take my word for it that field injuries can get much, much worse. One of my next posts will feature pictures from Bolivia, where EVERYTHING is covered in horrible spines, just waiting to draw the blood out of your veins. You don’t even know, people. You don’t even know.

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  1. Charon says:

    Okay, fine, hardcore, but if we had field work in astronomy, it would be way, way more dangerous. Supermassive black holes! Blazars! Pulsars! Supernovae! Gamma-ray bursts!

    So we don’t have field work. But if we did…