Hoping to Make Contact


This topic contains 3 replies, has 0 voices, and was last updated by  thepooles98 9 years, 3 months ago.

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  • #751

    Anonymous
    Member

    I’m a writer, and a play of mine that takes place largely in a fictional outpost is being produced by Ohio State University this fall. It’s a thriller that moves from Antarctica to Istanbul to Kazakhstan to Sacramento (hence its title: “Pangea”). I understand a renowned polar ice corer is on faculty at OSU, and this play was commissioned by the Sloan (which funds artworks that address science). With that in mind, I’ve been pushing for the University to attempt contact with scientists “wintering over” (or those who’ve done it). To what end, I’m not sure…but since this play is getting its premier at an educational institution, it seems to me there could be a synergy to be found.

    A brief synopsis: as an abnormally bright aurora appears in the sky, a group of scientists wintering on the ice begin converting, one by one, into religious fanatics; simultanously, a man searches for his sister in the seedy clubs of Istanbul. An anti-globalization activist is tortured in what appears to be a “dark” CIA prison. The mystery emerges; a global mind control conspiracy. In the end, the different pieces of the puzzle drift together like the continents, in the bedroom of a 14-year old computer geek in Sacramento.

    I know it sounds nuts, and it is (think “X-Files”). I guess I’m casting a line out there to find out if anyone might be interested in answering questions, maybe reading the manuscript for commentary/feedback, or otherwise getting involved in some capacity with this project.

    Thanks so much for reading this post, any suggestions or comments are definitely welcome. Feel free to respond here or by direct email.

    Steve

    #7753

    Sciencetech
    Keymaster

    Hello Steve.

    Gosh, um, yeah.

    > a group of scientists wintering on the ice begin converting, one by one,
    > into religious fanatics

    If the religion involved coffee, Bailey’s, and strange, cult-like fascinations with improbable movies, then I’d say yup, it could happen.

    I’m not on the Ice at the moment but I’ve wintered a few times. Maybe some of my friends who are currently wintering will respond? If not, I’d be happy to answer any questions I can.

    Cheers,

    glenn

    #7754

    Anonymous
    Member

    Hi Glenn!

    Thanks for your response. Yeah, I know it sounds WAY out there, and it is. The structure of the Antarctic scene is very loosely based on Carpenter’s “The Thing” (the building paranoia, the claustrophobia, etc.). I understand that’s something of a cult film on the ice.

    I have a zillion questions. Even though I’ve done a ton of research, I’m not a scientist and I’ve never been to Antarctica. Here’s a few questions to start the ball rolling:

    The crew debates “Polar Madness” in much the same way it’s debated on this forum. Most people here seem to think it’s bunk, but according to some accounts I’ve read Antarctica does seem to have a deep effect on people, an effect they can’t explain. Is that your experience, or is it flat-out superstition?

    Second, obviously Amundsen and McMurdo are relatively well-appointed and comfortable. But for the smaller bases (my fictional base, called “Ninnis-Mertz” has eight residents and is located in a remote corner of the Antarctic Plateau), how cut off are they in the winter? If a rescue became necessary, would an outpost like the one I describe be doomed?

    Finally, regarding “free-cycling.” Did you do it? Did you find you were sleeping more or less? Do workdays typically shrink or expand relative to the 24-hour day? Do “free-cyclers” within a crew find a common cycle? How does everyone stay on the same “day?”

    That’s it for now, as I said I have a zillion more where that came from. Anyone that might want to chime in is more than welcome. And if anyone is interested in reading the manuscript with an eye toward providing feedback please let me know.

    Much thanks,

    Steve

    #7755

    Sciencetech
    Keymaster

    Hi Steve. As with most things, if you’ll get a different answer to your questions depending on who you ask, but I’ll give you my .02…

    @Pangea wrote:

    The structure of the Antarctic scene is very loosely based on Carpenter’s “The Thing” … Even though I’ve done a ton of research, I’m not a scientist and I’ve never been to Antarctica.

    Mmm. A bit of trivia for you… There is a common misconception that Antarctic bases are staffed entirely by “scientists”. The media makes this mistake all the time. In reality, the summer crew at US stations is typically about 1/3 scientists, if that, and the rest are support staff. During the winter that can drop to *zero* scientists and 100% support staff (Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station is an exception because some scientists stay the winter). Compared to many foreign stations we’re doing good in that respect. The composition of the crew in “The Thing” was actually close to accurate — no scientists during the winter, albeit with a lot of Hollywood license.

    @Pangea wrote:

    The crew debates “Polar Madness” in much the same way it’s debated on this forum. Most people here seem to think it’s bunk, but according to some accounts I’ve read Antarctica does seem to have a deep effect on people, an effect they can’t explain. Is that your experience, or is it flat-out superstition?

    Imagine being trapped in an elevator with a bunch of people for, say, 12 hours. At first you’re all quiet, then you become friends, and soon you’re all laughing about the predicament. But after 5 hours, you and a couple of your new friends are ready to kill the guy sitting across from you who keeps picking his teeth in your direction. And you have to put up with this knucklehead for another 7 hours. Socially, it’s like that.

    Spiritually, oh yes, it has a deep effect on people, but it’s something other than madness. It’s more like a fevered dream, so vivid and intense that when it’s over you wonder if it really happened. Being in Antarctica tends to intensify emotions. Joy is greater, hate is worse, and jealousy is toxic.

    @Pangea wrote:

    Second, obviously Amundsen and McMurdo are relatively well-appointed and comfortable. But for the smaller bases (my fictional base, called “Ninnis-Mertz” has eight residents and is located in a remote corner of the Antarctic Plateau), how cut off are they in the winter? If a rescue became necessary, would an outpost like the one I describe be doomed?

    Good name. On the plateau they’d be very cut off. If a rescue was necessary it may take weeks to get a plane in, if at all.

    @Pangea wrote:

    Finally, regarding “free-cycling.” Did you do it? Did you find you were sleeping more or less? Do workdays typically shrink or expand relative to the 24-hour day? Do “free-cyclers” within a crew find a common cycle? How does everyone stay on the same “day?”

    No, I didn’t do it. Most people have some sort of work schedule that keeps them in sync. For me, the station meal times define my day, which I think is true for many people. (What can I say? I like having someone cook for me. It’s also a good social hour.) Some of the science staff at the Pole may free-cycle if they want, I can’t say how many actually do.

    Another misconception about Ice life — and you may have already caught-on to this — is the idea that we may not have enough to do. Ha, I laugh. For most people, the work day could continue 24×7 and sometimes does. So the day expands or contracts depending on how tired and hungry you are. That’s another reason why I like meal times. :mrgreen:

    g

    #7756

    thepooles98
    Keymaster

    The crew debates “Polar Madness” in much the same way it’s debated on this forum. Most people here seem to think it’s bunk, but according to some accounts I’ve read Antarctica does seem to have a deep effect on people, an effect they can’t explain. Is that your experience, or is it flat-out superstition?

    I’m in the bunk catagory. To me it doesn’t matter where you go, you will always find someone who is deeply affected by where they are. An example might be working at a mundane job on an assembly line with the same people all winter long in Michigan. Same maybe with the post office. Spend your life sorting mail with the same people you can never get away from.

    I’ve said this before, that working in the winter darkness isn’t a lot different than working at home in the winter. It’s just colder longer. You get up in the morning and it’s dark. You drive to work and it’s dark. You work indoors all day long under fluorescent lights. You drive home at 530pm and its dark. You do ok, but the guy working with you is breaking up with his girlfriend or drinks too much or any number of other behavioral thing that you also have to deal with. The only way to deal is to quit your job and leave, but you really can’t do that. It’s just like on the ice. A relatively normal mix of people.

    That said, though, maybe we are not so normal. We are in general a group that lives by a second set of rules. We travel the world and while we work long and hard on the ice, we are also footloose and fancy free for 3 to six months out of the year. If a winter over, you work 9 months or so and travel for 3 or 4 while waiting to go back. Most back home could not even dream of having this lifestyle. It does change the way you think about life.

    Second, obviously Amundsen and McMurdo are relatively well-appointed and comfortable. But for the smaller bases (my fictional base, called “Ninnis-Mertz” has eight residents and is located in a remote corner of the Antarctic Plateau), how cut off are they in the winter? If a rescue became necessary, would an outpost like the one I describe be doomed?

    Pretty much everyone is cut off in the winter. It’s too cold in general to fly down the big planes that do the rescues. Their hydraulics freeze and they cant retract flaps and landing gear. Back a few years the lady with breast cancer had to wait a couple of months before they got a plane in. In really serious cases, they can go in with smaller and more mechanical planes like ski equiped Twin Otters. We would fly them down from Canada. It is a dangerous and harrowing operation that is not done lightly. If your base was a US base and the people were indeed in danger of dying, a rescue attempt would probably be made provided the occupants of the camp could still take snow vehicles and smooth out a landing spot.

    Finally, regarding “free-cycling.” Did you do it? Did you find you were sleeping more or less? Do workdays typically shrink or expand relative to the 24-hour day? Do “free-cyclers” within a crew find a common cycle? How does everyone stay on the same “day?”

    Free cycling would imply that everyone works by themselves and has no contact with the rest of the group. The reality is that everyone in a small camp ( or big one) works as a team. Some cook, some clean, people work together on projects etc. To do this you need common time. If everyone free cycled, who would cook and who would they feed? The people you needed to support you would not be available. I wouldn’t imagine there would be free cycling at any base that wintered over because they had science work to do. Maybe an air crash or something where a group made it to a base and is just waiting for rescue might have that scenerio. Even then, it’s likely that for survival, someone would take charge, organize work, food and safety groups and the everyone would work together to survive.
    The US bases use New Zealand Standard Time

    Hope my opinion helps?
    Mike

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