Sunday, July 10, 2011

Day 40: The unexpected truth

Here's a thought: maybe nothing went wrong with my experiment at all. If something doesn't go as expected, the first instinct was to think something went wrong: so I tested the spike solution, I tested the containers, we tested the machine it was analyzed on, I tested the DI... All of the tests baffled us more because they kept eliminating the problems and saying that we did it right. What if there isn't a problem, what if what was observed are the true results?

So we got back the total phosphorus concentrations in the water. Total phosphorus measures a lot more than the soluble reactive phosphorus, the orthophosphate that  are directly taken up by plant cells. Total phosphorus is a measure of the dissolved and the particulate phosphorus. When we got the total phosphorus back, it was there! We really did everything right! The phosphorus just got converted into other forms faster than we thought possible. Definitely really interesting! It means that this pond may regulate the phosphorus geochemically before there is even a chance for the algae to really take it up.

Sometimes it is so hard to believe what is actually happening if it is different from expectations.

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