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Friday, 18 August 2006 08:00
Able Seaman George Winstone: 19th Century Polar Traveler
In the decade leading up to the first International Polar Year (1882-83), two British expeditions made major contributions to polar geography and science. The first was the 1872-76 Challenger Expedition, a worldwide oceanographic voyage that ushered in the modern science oceanography. The other was the 1875-76 British Arctic Expedition. Only a handful of individuals participated in both historic ventures - George Winstone was one of them. When the three-masted corvette Challenger put to sea from Portsmouth on Dec. 21, 1872, the 17-year-old Gloucester County youth formed part of her crew. Equipped with auxiliary steam power, the Challenger had been converted into a floating laboratory. Over the next four years, Winstone's grey eyes would see an asto...
Saturday, 02 September 2006 07:50
Polar History: 1845 – The Franklin Expedition
On May 19, 1845, Sir John Franklin, commanding HMS Erebus and Terror, left England to search for an elusive North-West Passage (see image). This was only the latest in a long series of expeditions stretching back 350 years, seeking a maritime route connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans through the Arctic. But this expedition was different from all the rest — both ships and 129 men vanished in the Arctic wastes. By 1847, there was growing concern for the missing expedition, and both overland and seaborne search parties were dispatched to try and find Franklin and his men. For over a decade, British and foreign expeditions combed the Arctic, first to rescue the explorers, and later to ascertain their fate. A document recovered in 1859 revealed that...
Thursday, 19 October 2006 07:15
Badges for Imperial Russian & Soviet Polar Exploration and Research
While many nations have awarded medals for Arctic and Antarctic exploration and scientific research over the last 200 years, Russia has also awarded special breast badges for these services. The tradition of breast badges dates back to the middle of the 19th century, when they were presented by military academies. Toward the end of the 1800s, all manner of badges were being produced, including those with maritime connections. Some honored the launching of ships, goodwill naval visits to foreign seaports, awards for winners of boat races — and to commemorate ocean voyages. After the Soviet Union came into existence in 1922, the tradition of awarding special badges was continued by Soviet civil and military institutions. Here is an illustrated review of some badges awarded for p...
Thursday, 21 September 2006 05:04
Frank Bickerton and the Australasian Antarctic Expedition (1911-14)
A biographer's challenge is to rekindle the spirit of a person, and this has recently been accomplished by Stephen Haddelsey in his book Born Adventurer: The Life of Frank Bickerton, Antarctic Pioneer. Bickerton, born in England in 1889, is today largely unknown, though his adventures were daring and remarkable — Haddelsey recounts his travels into the equatorial rainforest of the Cocos Islands and his airplane dogfights over the Western Front during World War I. But it is Bickerton's Antarctic experiences that dominate the book, and...
Friday, 17 November 2006 04:20
Polar Cigarette Cards
The Arctic and Antarctic have popped up in some of the most unusual places in popular culture, not the least of which is the cigarette card. The cigarette card sprang into existence in the mid to late nineteenth century, and was originally nothing more than a blank card inserted as a stiffener for a paper pack of cigarettes. By the 1880s, American and British companies started putting pictures of products on one side of a card, and later, information related to the picture was added to the other side. People started collecting the cards, thus the hobby of cartophily was born. As a lure to buy more cigarettes, cards were based on a common topic and organized into sets (usually 50 in number). Topics were as diverse as fire fighting equipment, Br...
Tuesday, 25 July 2006 08:09
Polar Explorer: Jean-Baptiste August Charcot
Jean-Baptiste August Charcot (1867-1936) was the son of a well known and wealthy French neurologist. Although he completed his medical studies, he had no wish to to practice medicine and embarked on a career as a polar explorer. He built the Français for his first expedition (1903-05), and accurately surveyed the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula. Afterwards, he built the most modern polar ship known to that date, the Pourquoi-Pas? (Why Not?), and extended his work along the Peninsula during 1908-10. He explored 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles) of unknown coastline. Between 1926-36, Charcot made regular oceanographic voyages to the Greenland Sea. In September 1936, the Pourquoi-Pas? wrecked along the Icelandic coast, where Charcot and most of his cr...
Calendar of Events
Fri, 07 May 2010IPY Monthly Report: May 2010
Tue, 30 Mar 2010IPY Report: April 2010
Wed, 03 Mar 2010IPY Report: March 2010
Tue, 02 Feb 2010IPY Report: February 2010
Thu, 21 Jan 2010IPY Oslo Science Conference -...
Friends of IPY
Thu, 16 Dec 2010Missatge 10: Un cervell realment...
Wed, 15 Dec 2010Ice Core Goes on Display...
Tue, 14 Dec 2010Sun-Earth Day 2011 Will Be...
Tue, 14 Dec 2010Missatge 9: Les peculiaritats de...
Mon, 13 Dec 2010Another Use for Antarctic Icebergs?