Tanya Mosley, Julian Sancton, Adrien De Jure Lodge discussed on Here and Now


And engineering and science. Learn more at math works dot com. From NPR NW bur I'm Tanya Mosley. And I'm Peter O doubt this is here and now in 18 97, the daring Belgian commander, Adrien de Jure Lodge set out to become the first Explorer to visit the Earth's magnetic South pole. He didn't make it. The commander and his crew got stuck in the sea ice and instead set a different record. They became the first people ever to spend an entire winter at the bottom of the earth. Not everyone escaped with their lives or their sanity. Julian Sancton is author of a new book about the expedition. It's called Madhouse At the end of the Earth. The Belgica is journey into the dark Antarctic night. Usually and welcome Thank very much for having me. So what did people know of Antarctica at the time in 18 97? How uncharted was it? People didn't even know if it was a continent. It was believed that it was very likely to be an ocean covered with ice the same way that the Arctic is that hadn't been annexed, serious expedition of any kind since in the last 50 years. Its fauna and flora, its geology. Its coastlines were all but unknown at that time, and so it was quite a daunting proposition for a couple dozen men, many of whom were in no way prepared for this. To explore the great white unknown. No doubt they were a bit of a ragtag group, weren't they? I mean, they didn't speak the same language. They had very little cold weather. Polar experience. What was it like on board? The ship was riven with divisions. French speaking Walloons didn't get along with the Dutch speaking Flemings. Then there was the resentment between the Belgian sailors which were you know, some of them were Notch below pirates in terms of discipline, Um, and the Norwegian sailors that desert lodge brought in because of their experience of cold weather. And then there was no psychological screening the way there is today in these sorts of missions, and I think it's important to say there were also a couple of scientists on board and after they sailed south for many days and weeks, even Um, the crew did make it to Antarctica. They made 20 landings and delighted everybody to be in this place that they had only dreamt of. What did the scientists find when they got off the ship? I mean, they found a a world out of fantasy. It was just and it's it's one that I was lucky enough to visit a couple of years ago in December of 2018. I traveled to the very last straight, which is Named after the commander of the Belgica, and it is one of the most sublime places on earth. It really and it hasn't changed, or at least it hasn't appeared to change in the last 120 years. Of course, the ecosystem is slowly breaking down and being threatened by climate change, but it looks identical. And what they found was a land that it looks like the imagine if the Himalayas somehow the sea had risen halfway up the Himalayas and the animals. There were not at all we're not used to humans, and so they could approach them, and the scientists discovered more than 100 new species. Many of them were insects. But for a scientist, this must have been pure bliss. But later that bliss gave way to give way to terror, as when they drifted into the Bellinghausen sea on their way to the south magnetic pole, And by that time the winter ice had started to set in. Well, you took the words right out of my mouth. The bliss turned into terror because at that point, the commander.

Coming up next