ANTA 102

This year I was in the privileged position  to deliver 4 lectures in Antarctic History for the ANTA 102 lectures series. Because of the 4th lecture I could go into more detail in social history and history of science. The best opportunity was, however, that I could present  the political context to the expeditions which were undertaken from the 1920s on. This part of Polar History has still lots to offer in terms of research. My focus is often the not so well known expeditions during the Heroic Era (e.g.: German, Swedish, Scottish, French expeditions). The political and economic changes  after World War One and World War Two brought new challenges to  Antarctic research. In the 1950s a new issue appeared: space travel. Antarctic research and space research competed in gathering funding and the big organisations like NASA were developing. Climate Change brought the Antarctic (and Arctic) into focus again and now the Antarctic is often used as a place for field training and to test material for outer space events.

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Showing a new direction 🙂

Hillmorton High School

Last Tuesday, 2 May, I was invited by Hannah Ewingh (the science teacher) to give a lecture about “Adaptation to extreme environments”. The students (16-17 years old) have to work on a project with the same title. I discussed with them the term “adaptation” and what an extreme environment is. The items (jackets, boots, etc.) I had with me again were a great help to show them how we adapt today to the Antarctic conditions when we are down in the ice. I has slides prepared what helps to keep the flow in the presentation but I integrated the students as well. 17 years working as teacher is then in the blood – so it was really nice to work as teacher again – at least for two hours. I don’t miss the administration involved in the school machinery but I like the work with the young people. But it is always easier to come from outside than being their teacher – it is easier to do it that way as I did last Tuesday.

CaptureHilmorton

 

Visit of the Nathaniel B. Palmer

The “Nathaniel B. Palmer” is the US research vessel I have seen two weeks ago in the dry dock in Devonport, Auckland, and now I  had the chance to visit her last Friday in Lyttelton. We were a small group and we got a very interesting tour through the ship. The captain spoke to us and we had the chance to discuss some details about the way how research logistics can work and how many institutions are involved in such endeavours. People were busy on board to load and store technical equipment and provision.

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This is our group (I am on the very left). With courtesy Peter McCarthy

Nathaniel B(rown) Palmer was a sealer from the US. He has an anniversary this year: he died on 21 June 1877. He discovered parts of the Antarctic Peninsula. Palmer was also a ship designer, explorer and sailing captain. Palmer station is named after him as well.

It was an interesting afternoon.

Book review published

Deutsche in der Antarktis: this is another book review which is published in the Polar Journal. Cornelia Luedecke wrote an interesting book on the German Antarctic expeditions from the Heroic Era until today. This account is only available in German but – hopefully – she can be persuaded to translate it into English to get a wider readership more familiar with names like Drygalski, Filchner, Ritscher, etc. as addition to the well known one like Scott and Schackleton.

The End of the Heroic Era – Conference

A conference, organised by the NZ Antarctic Society and the Royal NZ Navy, was held in Auckland. Friday, 24 March 2017, was the cocktail party at the Naval Museum in Devonport where the participants came together in a relaxed atmosphere.

IMG_9871The picture shows me, Philippa Ross and Myra Walton in the Naval Museum.

On Saturday, 25 March, were the presentations of different speakers. I have been invited to this conference to present the international perspective of the Heroic Era. My focus was on the German, Swedish, Japanese and French expeditions which took place at this time. I also provided a context of why these expeditions undertook science in the Antarctic and how it was linked to the economic and political circumstances at the time. Some of these links are still in place and are regulated by the Antarctic Treaty System.  It turned out during the conference that the Heroic Era is mainly a British Edwardian concept. This time of Antarctic explorations is stated usually from 1897 – 1917; however, sometimes it is also pointed out that the end was at 1922 when Ernest Shackleton died at Grytviken on a heart attack. This is a matter of debate but much more logical to end it in 1917.

A service was held on Sunday at the chapel of St Christopher. After the service a guided tour took place around the Naval Base.

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“Nathanial Palmer” in the dry dock for repair and participants of the conference at the tour.

After lunch the presentations continued until 4 pm in the afternoon. The conference was concluded with drinks and lots of lively discussions until 5:30pm.

The conference was very well prepared by Brett Fotheringham, CDR, Roger McGarry and Mike Wing from the Auckland Branch of the NZAS. Of course many people helped in the background for the the conference run smoothly.

More photos can be found on the NZAS Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/150773471684015/?ref=bookmarks