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Scott of the Antarctic

I am not going to do this story any justice.

Friday started the return of the Science Friday lectures, so Daryl and I headed back with the idea we'd get to see a lecture on Penguins - yay! The title was From Pensacola to Penguins, for heaven's sake.
Dr. Wade H. Jeffrey of the University of West Florida will present "From Pensacola to Penguins: 30 Years of Antarctic Research", a summary of experiences and research accumulated during twelve trips to Antarctica. During these trips, he has lived in tents, worked at research stations, and sailed on research vessels/ice breakers. Most of the more recent work has focused on the effects of ozone depletion and increased ultraviolet radiation and how marine microbes are affected. These organisms are the foundation of food webs - and changes in their activity and community composition have the potential to impact the health of ecosystems and growth of larger organisms."

Still, it was pretty interesting. He spent so much time talking about the initial expeditions to the South Pole that he ran out of time for discussing the results of his UV testing project - LOL! But the expedition stories were really cool. First of all - every time he said Scott I would have flashbacks to that Monty Python skit.

Trying to condense the story so that I can give the cool quote - British explorer Scott made an attempt with Shackleton but they failed, partly cuz Shackleton got scurvy. Shackleton tried his own attempt to redeem himself, got very close but realized while he had enough supplies to *get* to the pole, he didn't have enough to get back, so smartly decided to turn back - however he made good notes and mapped out the path there. Scott and Norwegian explorer Amundsen set out on individual attempts to reach the pole. Amundsen was smart, explored the North Pole a lot, lived with the inuits, got the proper equipment, ate his dogs when they no longer needed the dogsled, etc. and made it there first - woot! Scott was bullheadedly British (we don't need the proper equipment, I'm doing it my way, I'm not listening to other's way) and also collected lots of samples for scientific analysis. When his team got to the pole they found Norway's flag - and headed home. And died. Before they made it home. Because he had the wrong equipment, the wrong food, the wrong methods, and a bunch of rock samples weighing them down. Scott became a hero, though Amundsen was the successful one. Meanwhile, Shackleton got no credit so he decided he'd WALK across the continent. He had two boats - one for him and one on the other side to lay out supplies in advance so all he had to do was walk. His boat got trapped in the ice for a year and sank and other bad stuff. Shackleton escaped somehow and rescued the rest of the crew only to discover that their other boat had also crashed and needed rescuing - which Shackleton did. Okay - all that so that I could give this quote - "Scott for scientific method, Amundsen for speed and efficiency but when disaster strikes and all hope is gone, get down on your knees and pray for Shackleton." [Attributed to Raymond Priestly but appears in essence elsewhere including in Cherry-Garrard's Worst Journey in the World (see previous)]. Isn't that an awesome quote??

I could write more about the stuff the lecturer did, but this is already a crazy long post.

Did I mention I'm writing this while standing on boxes in a trench?


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 30th, 2010 04:54 pm (UTC)
I've followed the Shackleton story pretty closely and I've never heard about his having to go rescue another boat.
Aug. 30th, 2010 08:51 pm (UTC)
It was the Exdurance and the Aurora. :) Or at least those were the names of the boats in the story the lecturer was telling.
Aug. 31st, 2010 03:22 am (UTC)
Okay - that should say ENdurance, not Exdurance. LOL!

But both ships had difficulties and both crews were stuck. It was an amazing story! The Aurora crew went on laying out supplies even though they lost their ship and their captain. Amazing. I do intend to read the full story some day - the lecturer said there were lots of books about it.
Aug. 30th, 2010 10:03 pm (UTC)
Must look up Shackleton now. Knew the stuff about Scott and his royal screw-ups.
Aug. 31st, 2010 03:25 am (UTC)
It was a really interesting talk, and he had some cool pictures from when he was there. The stories he shared about the the early expeditions and his personal stories about what life was like on the boats, in the tents, performing the tasks were more interesting than the details about the actual scientific data he was sharing regarding his experiments, so I confess I paid much more attention during THOSE portions of the talk. :D
Sep. 1st, 2010 06:26 am (UTC)
One of my favorite Kim Stanley Robinson books is Antarctica. It incorporates so much history with such a good story. I highly recommend checking it out.
Sep. 1st, 2010 11:44 am (UTC)
Thanks!! I do want to read more about Antarctica after that lecture. :)

Do you watch Warehouse 13? Last night I watched last week's episode as well as this week's and there was a reference to the Endurance/Aurora expedition which I wouldn't have gotten had I caught the show last week! I love those kinds of happy coincidences. :)
Sep. 4th, 2010 11:42 am (UTC)
There must be something in the air. Last weekend we had a birthday party at Lofty and the last name was Shackleton. My co-worker, Ed, kept making jokes about hoping none of the kids got lost in the ice (cream).
Sep. 10th, 2010 01:32 am (UTC)
And today on NPR as a part of their "Three Books" Series - someone recommended the story Endurance - about Shakleton's experience.

Have there always been this many references and I just missed out for lack of knowing the story until now??
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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