With climate change comes extreme temperatures, and scientists just recorded a new low.
Nearly 15 degrees colder than the previous record-breaking coldest temperature, which was -128 degrees in 1983 near the South Pole, the temperature in Antarctica dropped to -144 degrees Fahrenheit.
Taking just a few breaths of air this cold would kill you. According to Forbes, "At that temperature, just a few breaths of air would induce hemorrhaging in your lungs and quickly lead to death."
The temperature was recorded using satellite measurements in the middle of Antarctica during the depths of winter where the sun never rises. These findings, recently published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, are close to the theoretical coldest temperature Earth can get down to.
Chock up another one for the women and men who work in Antarctica. Not only do they spent months on end slugging away for the betterment of humankind, they also mark the turning of the seasons by watching a film about a crew in their shoes being hunted by an alien threat.
iO9 reports that every year after scientists and logistical staff leave Antarctica for the winter, the skeleton crew that maintains one of the research stations over the winter months gathers to watch the 1951 sci-fi classic The Thing From Another World. The movie, which is as corny as you might imagine, still managed to be menacing enough to inspire John Carpenter to create The Thing, back in 1982. The best bit: The Antarctic winter crew watch the movie after the last flight leaves the island, knowing that they'll be isolated for months from the rest of the world as the howling winter storms envelope the continent.
I can't imagine that the isolation that the winter crew faces while they're in Antarctica does anything good for their skulls. That they make light of things going terribly wrong for folks in a similar situation to the one that they face? That's bad ass.
A flying saucer was spotted on a Google Earth image near the South Pole in Antarctica. You can see it right here. Mysterious Universe claims that "melting ice could have formed a round depression as it sank into the surrounding snow, or wind could have created a small whirlwind effect as it blew into alcoves in the rock wall." Screw that though. I want to believe.
Australian science fiction author Sean Williams writes, "I first met Kim Stanley Robinson in Hobart, 1995, when he was on his way to the South Pole. Stan suggested I look to the Australian Antarctic Division as a possible means of fulfilling my dream of visiting the great southern land. Over twenty years later, and thanks to the Australian Antarctic Division's Arts Fellowship program, that dream is about to come true." Read the rest
Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the second person to walk on the moon, was medically evacuated out of Antarctica where the 86-year-old hero was on a tourist expedition.
The tour company, White Desert, issued a statement:
Mr Aldrin was visiting the Pole as part of a tourist group and while there his condition deteriorated. As a precaution, following discussion between the White Desert doctor and the US Antarctic Program (USAP) doctor, Mr Aldrin, accompanied by a member of his team, was evacuated on the first available flight out of the South Pole to McMurdo with the USAP under the care of a USAP doctor. His condition was described as stable upon White Desert doctor's hand-over to the USAP medical team.
And from a National Science Foundation statement:
The National Science Foundation (NSF) has agreed to provide a humanitarian medical evacuation flight for an ailing visitor from its Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station to McMurdo Station on the Antarctic coast and then to New Zealand...
Ski-equipped LC-130 cargo planes flown by the 109th Airlift Wing of the New York Air National Guard provide the air bridge between the South Pole and McMurdo. The flight to New Zealand will be scheduled as soon as possible.
NSF will make additional statements about the patient’s medical condition only as conditions warrant.
UPDATE: Buzz Aldrin's manager Christina Korp tweeted the following:
— Christina Korp (@Buzzs_xtina) December 1, 2016
Gweek is back - at least for now! For those of you who are new to Gweek, it's a podcast where the editors and friends of Boing Boing talk about media, science, science fiction, video games, comic books, board games, TV shows, music, movies, tools, gadgets, apps, and other neat stuff.
My is co-host Dean Putney, the first engineer at Glowforge and Boing Boing’s software developer. In this episode Dean and I talk about:Christine Moran’s year in Antarctica -- an email newsletter written by a scientist who is spending a year in Antarctica working on their huge radio telescope. Lots of cool photos! Bitcoin for the Befuddled - A fun book that uses analogies to explain the blockchain, cryptography, proof-of-work, mining, and other aspects of bitcoin. Highly recommended for non-technical people who want to understand bitcoin. One Page Adventures - Brilliant RPG adventures for tabletop roleplaying, designed to fit all on a single (double-sided) page. Creative commons licensed and free to download, but easy to support on Patreon. Here’s one of Dean's favorites. Boing Boing's other great podcasts! Flash Forward (a podcast about the future), Home: Stories from L.A., and You Are Not So Smart (about the way people's brains work and fail to work), and Incredibly Interesting Authors.
One of the largest icebergs on the planet, about six times the size of Manhattan, has separated from an Antarctic glacier and is floating out towards open ocean. The iceberg is named B-31, and is roughly 255 square miles (660 square km). Its estimated maximum thickness is 1,600 feet (487 meters). Last Fall, it broke off from the Pine Island Glacier. Researchers have been watching it drift away since then, via satellite.
"The ice island, named B31, will likely be swept up soon in the swift currents of the Southern Ocean, though it will be hard to track visually for the next six months as Antarctica heads into winter darkness," according to scientists at NASA's Earth Observatory monitoring its progress.
The Antarctic Heritage Trust of New Zealand announced (PDF) that it had discovered a century-old box of photographic negatives from Captain Scott's last expedition base at Cape Evans, depicting Ernest Shackleton's 1914-1917 Ross Sea Party. The mouldy cellulose nitrate negs were among 10,000 artifacts recovered from Scott's Cape Evans hut, and were "clumped together." The negs were painstakingly restored and the photos have been published. They're damaged but remarkable, and no one knows who took them. (via /.) Read the rest