Science on the Ice

Last updated: 17 January 2012

Adam visits a new exhibition devoted to Captain Scott's Antarctic expedition and discovers that the famous story of tragedy and heroism is also a story of science.

Broadcast Tuesday 17th January at 7pm

Listen to the latest programme online

Adam with Dr. Tom Sharpe in the Museum's reconstruction of Scott's hut

Exactly a century ago the British naval officer and explorer Captain Robert Falcon Scott and four companions discovered that they had been beaten to the South Pole by a Norwegian, Roald Amundsen. Exhausted and dejected, they turned back for the long trek home.

But of course they never made it. One by one, all five members of the team perished and many months later the frozen bodies of three of them, including Scott, were discovered where they died in their tent. The Terra Nova Expedition is often portrayed as a heroic failure but a new exhibition at the National Museum Cardiff hopes to put the record straight by focusing on the expedition's substantial scientific achievements.

In this week's programme Adam Walton meets the Museum's Curator of Geology, Dr. Tom Sharpe, as he puts the finishing touches to the exhibition. They discuss the major contribution that geologists, biologists and other scientists on the Terra Nova expedition made to our understanding of one of the coldest, most inhospitable places on Earth.

Adam also discovers that Scott's expedition probably wouldn't have got off the ground without Welsh funding and support and Tom tells the story of Edgar Evans, the Welshman who accompanied Scott to the Pole and who was the first to perish.

Elsewhere in the programme, Science Cafe producer Jeremy Grange talks to Aberystwyth University glaciologist Dr. Alun Hubbard about his research on the Greenland ice sheet where he's monitoring the melting and retreat of the Petermann Glacier.

Links

National Museum Cardiff

Tom Sharpe's Antarctic Diary

Alun Hubbard and the Petermann Glacier


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