"The detection of gravitational waves in the afterglow of the Big Bang — if confirmed — opens a new chapter in astronomy, cosmology and physics. The signature, seen by the BICEP2 radio telescope at the South Pole, packs at least three discoveries into one: It provides the most direct evidence for the existence of the waves predicted by Einstein; it is the proof of ‘cosmic inflation’ that physicists had been eagerly awaiting; and it opens a window into the unification of the fundamental forces of nature and into quantum gravity." NYT article, in depth Nature News feature. [more inside]
"This is video of an aurora australis taken at the geographic south pole! I'm not absolutely sure, but it might actually be the first true video of an aurora australis here, as opposed to a timelapse of longer exposures. Sorry about the swearing - if you were there seeing it you'd probably swear too."
You're about to be the base doctor at Halley Research Station in Antarctica for a year. For ten months, no one gets in or out. Fourteen lives are in your hands, including your own. What do you put in your medical kit? And how do your choices differ from those of your predecessors (Eric Marshall and Edward Wilson) a century ago?
In a twist worthy of a bestseller or blockbuster, the remains of the shipwrecked Terra Nova have been identified just off the coast of Greenland, just in time to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Scott's ill-fated attempt to become the first man to reach the south pole. On 6 June 1911 Robert Falcon Scott, who was born in Plymouth, celebrated his 43rd birthday at the south pole expedition base camp at Cape Evans. On 29 March 1912 he and his companions finally starved and froze to death in their tent, 11 miles from a supply cache, on the march back from discovering that the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen had beaten them to the pole.
Use Google street view to explore some past and present Antarctic Research facilities. [more inside]
"This is day 86 on my full return South Pole Expedition 2011/2012. I'm quite hungry and about to pick up my last cache by my second pulk which I left on the way in. As a part of my motivational plan I have on purpose not made notes on what goodies I have left behind in the cache, and on this last one, I didn't expect very much." --Aleksander Gamme [more inside]
Time-lapse photography from above the polar circles • Antarctic: [ Following the sun around the horizon - Lunar Time Lapse (with a great aurora) - Aurora Australis - Scenes from around McMurdo and Scott bases - A day in the life outside the window at a McMurdo lab ] • Arctic: [ Bering Sea icebreaker ramming through pack ice - Icebreaker navigating through brash ice and swells at night - Same, at regular speed, in daytime - Sunrise in Greenland - Midnight sun from Grøtavær, Troms, Norway - Solar Eclipse from the Polish Station at Svalbard - Arctic sea ice, 1978-2009 - James Balog's TED talk about time-lapse proof of Alaskan glacial loss ]
During his unsuccessful 1908 attempt to reach the South Pole, universal badass Ernest Shackleton left five crates of Scotch whisky and two crates of brandy buried in the ice under the floorboards of his hut at Cape Royds. The crates were dug up in February, and conservators are working on ten of the 114-year-old whisky bottles, some marked with ‘British Antarctic Expedition 1907 Ship Endurance,’ with an eye on replicating the long-lost blend. [more inside]
How we lost the cure for scurvy. "Now, I had been taught in school that scurvy had been conquered in 1747...but here was a Royal Navy surgeon in 1911 apparently ignorant of what caused the disease, or how to cure it. Somehow a highly-trained group of scientists at the start of the 20th century knew less about scurvy than the average sea captain in Napoleonic times."
Early in the days of exploration of Antarctica, Australian geologist Douglas Mawson turned down an invitation to join Robert Falcon Scott's Terra Nova Expedition in 1910 (Cool Antarctica previously). Instead, Mawson lead his own expedition, the Australasian Antarctic Expedition (December 1911 to December 1913), an expedition to chart the 2000-mile coastline directly south of Australia, one of the least-visited parts of the continent throughout the early years of Antarctic exploration. The group's efforts and activities are well documented, and many remnants of the expedition remain on Antarctica. The conservation of Mawson's Huts is now an ongoing effort from Association of Australasian Palaeontologists (AAP) Mawson's Huts Foundation. While most efforts were focused on the recovery and treatment of artifacts inside the main hut, the group also searched for the Vickers (Aviation) monoplane that was modified to become an "air tractor", or motorized sledge. The remains of the plane were last seen in 1975. Now the plane has been found, thanks to an exceptionally low tide and a bit of luck. [more inside]
The Polar Discovery team has documented science in action from pole to pole during the historic 2007-2009 International Polar Year, and covered five scientific expeditions. The science projects explored a range of topics from climate change and glaciers, to Earth’s geology, biology, ocean chemistry, circulation, and technology at the icy ends of the earth. Through photo essays and other multimedia, they explain how scientists collected data and what they discovered about the rapidly changing polar regions. From the awesome folks at WHOI.
Landsat Image Mosaic Of Antarctica UK and US researchers peice together the most detailed map of Antarctica yet, searching through years of data to find cloud free images.
Ever wonder how time zones work at the North and South Poles? (No, not this North Pole, the real one.)
Santa found living on the South Pole....of Mars!?! Mysterious tracks that look like 250-mile long ski or sled trails have been found near the South Pole of Mars. Researchers at the University of Colorado have found the broad, sweeping lines cutting through a section of the southern ice caps of the frigid planet, but haven't a clue what caused them. via the excellent laputan logic
This week marks the 90th anniversary of the death of Robert Falcon Scott and four companions on their return trip from the South Pole. Most of the blame for the failure of the polar expedition has been placed on critical blunders Scott made in his trek to the pole but Antarctic meterologist Susan Sontag says that although Scott cut his safety margins too close, unusually cold weather provided the killing blow. On a related subject, next month A&E premires a movie starring Kenneth Branagh as Shackleton (flash site) who saved his crew after their ship shattered in Antartic pack ice.