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If you were a physicist you could work here! The South Pole Station has 200 people in the summer... but fewer than 50 in the winter. The station is completely self-sufficient then, powered by generators running on jet fuel. After the last flight leaves and the long dark begins, they show a double feature of The Thing (a horror film set in Antarctica) and The Shining (about an isolated hotel caretaker). They also have their own newspaper, The Antarctic Sun:

http://antarcticsun.usap.gov/science/contenthandler.cfm?id=2647

Right now the big news is the discovery made by the IceCube neutrino detector. This lies deep beneath the snow: even its very top is 1.4 kilometers down, to minimize the effects of stray cosmic rays.

This Christmas saw a heat wave that set a record high temperature: -12.3 degees Celsius! But by April 7 the temperature dropped below -100°F (-73 °C), less than three weeks after the one sunset of the year:

http://antarcticsun.usap.gov/features/contenthandler.cfm?id=2563

http://antarcticsun.usap.gov/features/contenthandler.cfm?id=2643

The photo here was taken by Robert Stokstad.
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19 comments
 
You mixed up Celsius and Fahrenheit: -73C is (close to) -100F, not the other way around.
 
Either way, if you open your zipper to try and take a leak it will freeze before it hits the ground.

Other things will freeze as well, of course.
 
I must dust off my Ph.D. to work there. (Not.)
 
Just to be clear, you don't need a Ph.D. to work there. I worked in the U.S. Antarctic Program (not at the Pole) as a marine field tech doing all kinds of whacky stuff. I think Lockheed has the contract to provide logistical support down there currently, and they need people to do nearly everything under the sun (pilots, doctors, cooks, janitors, divers, boat operators, mountaineers, lab techs, aircraft techs, mechanics, carpenters, etc...). Science needs a ton of support to get stuff done down there.
 
I need no convincing. It just needs a ton more down there. Those folks compete for lab time and grants, and then have to do science on a very tight schedule, if they don't produce they probably don't get to go back... I speak only about the time on the ice breakers, I know very little about the Pole's situation, but I bet it is similar.
 
Funny coincidence that you posted this just now! About an hour ago we finished watching the Frozen Planet episode about people who live in the far north and the far south, including the people who work at the Amundsen-Scott station. Our 6 year old wants to go there; maybe we should suggest that she study neutrino physics.
 
Thanks, +Todd Kemp! I got distracted while cut-and-pasting the cute little degree symbols.
 
I remember in my youth in the military how I wanted to be stationed at such a place -- for the only reason that I wouldn't have to cut my hair short or shave. Given those temps, I'm glad I was in Germany.
 
+Ben McKee - so what's your coolest (or scariest) story from working on that ice breaker?
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+John Baez Hmm... I was on a trip where 3 liters of acetone exploded about a 1000 miles from anywhere at 3 in the morning, and it gutted our biolab, trashed our server room, and destroyed 85% of our science computing capacity. That was exciting for sure. Nothing like a fire at sea to wake you right up. Also I was on a geology trip where this (Big Wave) happened.
 
Can anyone translate that for me?
 
Nope. In case people are wondering, I'm talking about a comment written in what looked like Bahasa Indonesia. A followup comment by the same person looked like spam so I deleted both.
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Yes, that was nice, +John Yates. A bit folky for my taste but if I were stuck on the ice for months I would find it a breath of life.
 
Just hope you don't unearth a Borg!
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