Wintering in the South Pole Can Be Trying, Exciting

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ms. [ELIZABETH] WATSON: You see more stars than I've ever seen in my life because it's just 180 degrees of sky. What you get is sort of uninterrupted beauty, beauty without distraction because you don't have anything else to think about or see.

There's also a sense that the only thing down here that's alive are us, so you get sort of that cosmic quiet. There's - you don't have bird energy. You don't have little bugs crawling around. No grass is living. It's just us alive. I've never felt so, like, understanding the hand of God, and I don't even believe in God, just how big and beautiful and magnificent everything is.

[DANIEL] ZWERDLING: As they're going about their work, here's what the polies see: flat, white nothingness in every direction. It's so flat you can see the earth curve at the horizon. It gets so dark you sometimes need a flashlight to see beyond your hands, and the temperature drops to 150 degrees below zero with a wind chill....

Ms. [BETTY CATHERINE] GRANT: When the "Lord of the Flies" started to happen, it just kept going. We had a construction team, we were building the new garage building, and they severed in half and started fighting with each other. So you know, we had carpenters and sheet metal over here that were friends, and plumber and electricians were friends, and never the twain should meet.

Our two cooks couldn't be in the same building together. You know, when the power plant goes down, you're supposed to run towards it and help; some didn't. So when that starts going down, then you start seeing the true inside of humans.

I really thought that grown-up humans would rise to the challenge. That's what I thought I would see when I signed up, and they don't.
(My emphasis)

Listen to it all from NPR.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology

Posted April 28, 2008 at 4:58 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. MargaretG wrote:

Doesn’t augur well for long trips to Mars—or small colonies there.

April 29, 12:06 am | [comment link]
2. MJD_NV wrote:

Proof of the Fall in microcosm.

April 29, 3:15 pm | [comment link]
3. Andrew717 wrote:

#1, my thoughts as well.  And it seems to match some of the problems faced by early European colonies in the New World.

April 30, 5:45 pm | [comment link]
4. Barrdu wrote:

Ahh, but have you read of the extreme integrety and discipline of the crew of the Endurance under the leadership of Sir Ernest Shakleton?  Lost for 18 months at the start of WWI on the pack ice and not a man lost.

April 30, 6:55 pm | [comment link]
5. Andrew717 wrote:

Oh, there are counterexamples to be sure.  Your typical sailing vessel on long distance voyages, for example.  But small groups in isolation can be a dicey prospect.

April 30, 7:02 pm | [comment link]
6. Andrew717 wrote:

I should also add the smaller the group the greater risk of problems, it seems, as you can’t really avoid someone after a disagreement to let things cool down, for example.

April 30, 7:03 pm | [comment link]
Registered members must log in to comment.

Next entry (above): LA Times: McCain Doesn’t Put his Faith out Front

Previous entry (below): Austin Dacey: A values voter’s trap

Return to blog homepage

Return to Mobile view (headlines)