Sunday, November 20, 2005

South Pole People

Alec, one of the apparently few readers, had asked me if there are a lot of international people and languages spoken here. The short answer is not really. Both McMurdo (MCM) and South Pole Station (NPX) are U.S. operated facilities. Most of the personnel here hail from the States, or some from New Zealand. The bulk of the international presence, is through academia, professors and researchers from universities. Yet, most research activities at NPX are sponsored or administered by the National Science Foundation (NSF), a U.S. government institution. So, the international members of the science community are generally collaborators (partners) with U.S. researchers, or just foreigners at U.S. universities.

Still, the range of people here is very interesting. Although most people come from the U.S., they come from all over the country. Not surprisingly, many are from states like Colorado and Alaska, but the other day I spoke with a really cool guy from Montana that was wearing a cowboy hat on the way down here. He was here to do carpentry work on an experiment called “Ice Cube” (speaking of which, I guess I’ll post a “Science at NPX” discussion sometime soon).

There are really two groups here, Raytheon Polar Services Company (RPSC) employees and “Grantees”. Raytheon is a government contractor that runs all the basic construction, administrative, and accommodation services here. An RPSC employee might be putting up walls in the new Station, or wiring the network out at one of the outside labs, or serving food at the galley, or landing planes on the airstrip. The other group, of which I am a member, is the “Grantees”. Grantees are the researchers here; they have received grants through the NSF to come and work at NPX on various experiments ranging from atmospheric, to geological to cosmological sciences.

NPX lack one group, tourists. This I believe is a good thing. Life down here is not as harsh as one might expect when you are warm indoors, but it’s a whole other story outside. I don’t think the U.S. government needs to devote resources to track reckless adventurers. Also, many of the experiments here are sensitive to disruption from human motion or radio devices. So if you want to see the South Pole anytime in the near future, I’d recommend getting into science or carpentry ;)

2 Comments:

Blogger Alec said...

Thanks for that post in response to my comment. I've discovered your Angry South Pole Elf blog as well, which is also very interesting. I'm intrigued, though, why you keep them separate, and duplicate some of your material. How come?

By the way, what you're doing is really cool. You may not think so, or you may become so used to it that you forget, but it is.

Wed Nov 23, 04:39:00 AM CST  
Blogger komi_123 said...

Hi this is Sabrina ,i am doing a project on the south pole and i needed to find out about the kinds of people that live there.Like the peoples name ,what they eat ,thier customs,what they wear ,what they believe in ,what thier homes are made from ,how do they travel and how do they earn a living.I need all this info but it isnt on your site could you please tell me the answers or give me a site that this info is on so i pass my project

Sat Jan 14, 07:34:00 AM CST  

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