Saturday, October 13, 2012

I Want to Go to There: Antarctica

Image source: The Atlantic
Grey shaded area = emperor penguins!
Image source: The Atlantic
McMurdo Station
Image source: The Atlantic
Nacreous clouds are only observed at -100F
Image source: The Atlantic
   Rainbow Aurora. July 15, 2012
   Image source: The Atlantic
    Milky Way and aurora australis   
    Image source:
The Atlantic
It wasn't until I saw the documentary, Encounters at the End of the World, that I started to actually think about Antarctica and became really captivated by it. What I liked most about the film is that it is narrated by Werner Herzog. His dry German delivery is both insightful and hilarious. Anyway, the film follows all the random misfits who end up at the South Pole. For example, you are introduced to a linguist who abandoned his PhD thesis to run a greenhouse and a philosopher who drives a forklift at McMurdo Station. Why are they there? The linguist sums it up well:

"If you take everybody who's not tied down, they all sort of fall down to the bottom of the planet ...
We're all loose ends and here we are together."

Later in the film, there's a reference to a lone penguin that wanders further and further towards the mountain ranges instead of the ocean. It's such a good scene. He's essentially lost and heading towards his own demise. But when you see the footage, he seems pretty determined. The other penguins are not that far from him. He could easily follow them in the right direction, but he breaks off onto his own path. Of course, there must be something wrong with him, but I guess I want to think of it as him being just another loose end finding his way.

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