18 November, 2001
It's a long time until the South Pole for me, but I've been quite active on a number of projects related to the trip.
In no parcticular order
a) Shackleton IMAX: I took 2 classes of seniors to see the excellent IMAX movie on the Shackleton expedition last week at the Pacific Science Center here in Seattle. It's the 3rd time I've seen the movie. The photography is beautiful, and the narrative is "uplifted" : Shackelton is sainted, and the dogs vanish without a trace.
The cool thing was, Melinda Mueller, our school's biology teacher, drove the bus down there for us. She is the author of WHAT THE ICE GETS, a book length narrative poem on the Endurance expedition. Does she know details ? Yes !
b) more Shackleton movie: by the same group that made the IMAX is a new feature length documentary which just started a one week run nearby. I hope to see it today. It has interviews with some descendants ("Dad never wanted to talk about it"), and goes into the private journals of some of the men.
c) When my mom was here a few weeks ago, we went to the Burke Museum at the University of Washington. They've been hosting a travelling exhibition of Hurley's photographs from the Endurance expedition.
We were unprepared for the magnificence of these newly developed pictures from the original plates - the photographs were astoundingly clear and perfect. After the ship was crushed, and before the group attempted to haul their boats to water, Shackleton and Hurley destroyed most of the plates, to avoid the dangerous temptation to go back and retrieve them later. The keepers were soldered into metal boxes to keep them watertight. The exhibition had good historical information. The most telling words were in the show's last panels, where it was revealed that Shackleton, 5 years after their safe return, had the opportunity to award prestigious medals to each member of the party. He denied these to 5 men from the group, for incidents of bad behavior during their nearly 2-year ordeal. Melinda of course knew all about this. McNiesh (sp ?), the group's carpenter and oldest member, refused to haul one of the 1 1/2 ton boats across the ice anymore. Shackleton understood this was an impossible task, hauling the boats to open water, but anticipated much second-guessing if the attempt were not made and clearly proven impossible. Shackleton put a gun in McNiesh's face and told him to pick up the harness or get shot right there. No medal for McNiesh, for one bad day.
d) I have "joined" the AMANDA / IceCube team. This is the group I wanted to work with. They are building a cubic kilometer of neutrino detector at the South Pole, deep in the ice. I expect to spend some weeks next summer working with the group at the University of Wisconsin and / or the University of Delaware. I have a powerpoint show on this project on my server at :
e) I've made a couple of other slide shows on Antarctica, and have presented these to a couple of classes so far.
One is a general show on Antarctica :
The other is about the South Pole itself :
http://184.108.40.206/site_material/powerpoint/life_at_pole_html/index.htm This show is about atmospheric refraction, and features a lot of Antarctic phenomena:
f) In my Project Science class, I have a group working on kite aerial photography. These rigs will go to Antarctica with me. The Drachen Foundation (a non-profit kite-flying foundation here in Seattle) folks have been very helpful to us. The website for the class is :
g) I've done a couple of recent presentations (partly) on the TEA program. One last weekend, at Fermilab, to a group of about 30 physics teachers, and another to a group of about 30 physics students at the University of Washington in a career development seminar.
h) I've also figured out how to upload pictures and pages directly to my home server at www.invisiblemoose.net. This will be very useful for creating pages while travelling. This is an unusual setup, as I'm using a Mac G3 to serve directly over a DSL line. Nobody has any expertise in this kind of rig, so I'm mostly on my own, and getting uploading to work is definitely not trivial. The site at this point : about 13 gb !
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