Some experiments never end. Especially ones involving plastic objects released in the far north.
In late July 2011, Paul Boots, a supervisor at an oilfield on Alaska’s North Slope, found a small, yellow plastic disc on a creekbed. Scientists 30 years ago tossed the disc into the sea as part of a study on arctic oil spills.
Boots, who works at the large gravel pad that hosts the Badami oil field, was with his coworkers on an annual cleanup day along a nameless creek just west of the gravel pad.
“I was enjoying a beautiful day and strayed a bit farther than most in my search for ‘fugitive emissions’ (everything we pick up has been blown off of our pad),” he wrote in an email. “I found the disc about 50 yards from the saltwater.”
Boots at first thought the saucer was part of a weather balloon. Then he saw a typewritten message: “One Dollar Reward on Return of Serial Number With Date Found, Location, Your Name and Address to Geophysics Institute, Univ. of Alaska, Fairbanks.”