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Christmas Cheer Earth

White Christmas In Antarctica 84

The idea of a white Christmas may seem magical for many of us, but Science Daily asks you to "spare a thought for a team of scientists forgoing the festive season to take part in a novel campaign being carried out in one of the most inhospitable regions on Earth to support ESA's CryoSat mission." Plenty of people cooped up in the upside-down parts seem to find good ways to amuse themselves; I am especially fond of this introduction to Condition One weather, and Cops McMurdo. If anyone is reading this down there, I hope you're having a nice holiday.
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White Christmas In Antarctica

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  • by unassimilatible ( 225662 ) on Thursday December 25, 2008 @10:15PM (#26233009) Journal
    In Iraq, Afghanistan, and all parts of the globe.

    Thank you for your service. Hope you get home to your families soon.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      *pushes detonator*

      captcha: childish

    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by citizenr ( 871508 )
      yes, and Merry Christmas to CIA Torturers in Guantanamo

      Thank you for your service. Hope you get home to your families soon.
    • by rxfrwg ( 1444331 )
      good for you
  • Mele Kalikimaka Kea! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Shag ( 3737 ) on Thursday December 25, 2008 @10:19PM (#26233029)

    I just came down from the (sadly penguin-free) summit of Mauna Kea - where we too are having a White Christmas [] this year - and would like to wish my fellow scientists in Antarctica a Merry (White) Christmas in Hawaiian. :)

  • Don't Worry (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Comatose51 ( 687974 ) on Thursday December 25, 2008 @10:49PM (#26233147) Homepage
    Sure the isolation sounds terrible but apparently those clever scientists have figured out a good way to pass the time, huddle up with other researchers, feeling cold, and needing warmth... []
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      That's a lot of latex for 125 people in one year. What kind of research are they conducting there?

      • Scientists don't need a word, they just jump straight into latex.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        There's a lot more than 125 people. We have ~1000 at McMurdo right now. 200 and change at the South Pole. There's also large field camps like AGAP and WAIS, Palmer (a full station, but really small), as well as lots of little stations. There's a ton of people down here every year.
    • From the linked report: The base only has a skeleton staff through the long winter.

      Well, looks like they'll be jumping each other's bones with gay abandon ;).

    • That's a way for a nerd to get some - make sure there aren't many other choices.

      Lots of opportunity for you /.erds
      • Psst, you forgot to post anonymously. You know, so you can pretend like you aren't posting on /. when you actually are. ;)

  • They're pretty much the only ones enjoying a white Christmas in the southern hemisphere, although it's probably not wintery even for them with 24 hours of sunlight.

    I have to point out that Slashdot does seem unoriginal when you have RSS feeds of sites like Ars Technica and Science Daily.

  • Phone patch (Score:5, Interesting)

    by drmpeg ( 1408305 ) on Thursday December 25, 2008 @11:06PM (#26233195)
    Whenever I see something about McMurdo, it reminds me of when I was in high school (in the early seventies) and had bought my first shortwave radio. Back then, there were no satellite links to McMurdo, so a lot of traffic was done with amateur radio stations utilizing a device called a "phone patch". There was a net of amateur stations in the US, and when someone stationed at McMurdo wanted to talk to their family or other loved ones, the ham that was closest to the family in the US would call them on the telephone and then "patch" the telephone to his transmitter and receiver. The parties could then talk to each other, although the folks on the telephone side of the conversation had to remember that it was actually half-duplex. Mostly it was pretty mundane traffic, but every once in a while things would get hot and heavy and a session of phone sex would occur. The only difference was that everyone in the US (and any other area that had propagation) listening to that frequency (usually in the 7 MHz ham band) could hear all the details. It was thought that the new wives were not aware that their conversation was public since after all, they were just talking on the phone. And it was also thought that the husbands at McMurdo just didn't care (I don't think women were allowed to go to McMurdo at that time). Good stuff for a teenager long before the Internet, cell phones, cable TV and other diversions.
  • by zippthorne ( 748122 ) on Thursday December 25, 2008 @11:40PM (#26233301) Journal

    It's boom town over there right now. The real troopers are the ones who stay on over the winter.

  • White Christmas (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Valtor ( 34080 ) on Thursday December 25, 2008 @11:59PM (#26233357) Homepage

    The idea of a white Christmas may seem magical for many of us

    Hi from Canada !

    What's so special about a white Christmas ? ;-)

    Joyeux Noel !!!

    • Good question. Here in Minnesota I would really enjoy a nice warm christmas where everyone can wear shorts and enjoy some sunshine out on the green grass.

      • But then in the depths of winter there's nothing to cheer you up, it's business as usual.

        Fortunately practically all of the southern hemisphere residents are at latitudes that don't experience a severe winter.

      • Meh. It was 80 here in Brandon, Fl yesterday (Christmas). My daughter who is home on break from college complained it was too hot so we had the air conditioning on all day and night. She's going to school in Indiana so this is a big change for her.
        • Christ I live in Boston, and it can get hot here, but at the beginning of December when I went to Florida, I turned OFF the AC. I WANTED hot weather... why would I want to freeze in a tropical wonderland? I can do that at home for the next four months.
    • It's fairly rare for the entire country to have a white Christmas (one of BC, PEI, Nova Scotia, or Newfoundland and Labrador will usually not have snow on the ground), which I believe happened this year.

    • What's so special about a white Christmas ? ;-)

      I'm in Southern California. A white Christmas would be a nightmare.

    • The idea of a white Christmas may seem magical for many of us

      Hi from Canada !

      What's so special about a white Christmas ? ;-)

      Joyeux Noel !!!

      Hi from Australia whats a white Christmas :-p

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 26, 2008 @01:15AM (#26233569)

    I wintered over at South Pole last year. I'm still on extended recuperation holiday, actually, and just returned to Christchurch where all of my gear was stored (thanks, Windsor hotel).

    Summer is pretty easy on the Ice, actually. Just wear sunglasses when you get up to pee, or your body will jolt into alertness with the blazing sun. Plus, you're roach your retinas.

    Everyone said it's the last month or two of a year's service that really tests people, and brings out the stupidity. Boy, were they right.

    It's not as hard as some people will make it out to be. We get to keep out appendices in (unless like a certain SatComm Eng I know, it goes bad midway through your season). Hardest part is not punching the asshats who try to provoke confrontation (gotta keep that completion bonus), and dealing with the government technology and procurement decisions, which would royally piss off you open source peeps.

    Easy for me to say, I didn't break anything nor did I have anything broken for me. Two situations which we did observe this year.

    All the best to the new crew toughing it out. Enjoy the cabernet while it lasts. Don't break CommsShop Theater and don't blame me for the current state of affairs! :-D

    • by bytesex ( 112972 )

      But we don't want to know this stuff. We want to know how many temporary wives you had (;P)

    • by evil_arrival_of_good ( 786412 ) on Friday December 26, 2008 @12:04PM (#26235463) Homepage
      I was at McMurdo 95-96, for 13 months ( Winfly, Summer, Winter, Summer). Yeah, I agree that summer is not that hard. More like: its great. The mating scenarios there are called ice-marriages, ice-wives, ice-husbands. Thats the enduring ones. Then there are the thousands of serial relationship hook-ups. Some got through the winter by logging amazing amounts of hours in bed (WITH SOMEONE ELSE!!). Then there was the whole girls-nude-in-suana-looking-for-a-hookup, thing. Ahem, and a lot of the guys and girls are geeks. My own account is written here: [] As I recall, Christmas at McMurdo was a lot of fun, plenty of people, parties, and the weather is usually great.
  • I so want to work down there...

    • Hiring for next summer season (oct - feb) starts over the summer. There's lots of exciting dishes for people with no experience. Like washing dishes...and washing dishes...
  • by dargaud ( 518470 ) <> on Friday December 26, 2008 @03:55AM (#26233913) Homepage
    If you like the lighter side of Antarctica, you should read Nic's website [] or book 'Big Dead Place []'. It's hilarious and realistic at the same time, and I speak as someone who spent 3 years there. Of course, it'll never be as realistic as this []...

    And keep in mind that the festive period of Antarctica is not Giftmas or even New Years (too much work to do, too many bosses around), but the Midwinter [], celebrated when you are halfway through your 'tour of duty', and the days are the coldest.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Santa lives on the other side of the planet!

    • by ailnlv ( 1291644 )
      Santa actually lives in a crappy town in Finland called Rovaniemi. He's probaly having a sauna party now with lots of drunk, naked, sweaty elves. Finland is a fun place in a really wrong way.
  • If you guys at McMurdo see a helicopter with a couple Norwegians shooting at a dog, waste the dog and burn it. Trust me on this...

    And Merry Christmas

  • by evil_arrival_of_good ( 786412 ) on Friday December 26, 2008 @09:32PM (#26238551) Homepage
    This being Slashdot and we are talking about Antarctica I must tell this story. I was at McMurdo 1995-6. In the winter-over we are down to around 190 people, and one unix sys admin for the base. He had been there through the summer, so I had gotten to know him before the sun set and winter began. He seemed normal enough in a loner sort of way in the summer. I even got my first exposure to unix know-how from him. As the winter set in, this unix admin began a new behavior. He would bark. Yes, bark with a real barking sound. He would only bark when upset at someone or something. At the wine bar (yes, wine bar ) someone said something he disagreed with and he just....barked. One very articulate and semantically well-formed bark. A few weeks later I saw a sign behind the bartender that said "No Barking". I lurked in the Crary Lab Mac Lab during my free time, enjoying the early WWW before spam-crud polluted it. One time, as I surfed the net, the unix admin was doing his job on another terminal. I guess he was having trouble with a script or other command line incantation. I heard him snapping his teeth at the keyboard, just a like a dog. This promoted unix like no other marketing campaign, I have been using Linux or OS X Unix ever since.

I bet the human brain is a kludge. -- Marvin Minsky