One Hundred Years Ago Today: Scott Going South To the Pole, Amundsen Going North and Home

Edmund Wilson/Public Domain

There have been hundreds of books written about the race to the south pole; I own many of them. As I noted in 100 Years Ago Today: Roald Amundsen Stands On The South Pole, there is a lot of controversy still about whether Robert Falcon Scott was a fool or an unlucky hero. The big question remains one that is relevant to this day, to the way we do space exploration or even how we travel: Do you go fast and light, the point being simply to get there first, or do you go slow, steady and methodical, with more important goals. At Discovery News, Kieran Muvany does an excellent summary of the differences between the two campaigns, in South Pole Race, 100 Years Ago Today:

Race vs Science: Scott knew full well that the success of his expedition would be judged on whether he reached the South Pole, but the polar assault was part of a broad-based attempt to learn more about the Antarctic. To that end, Scott and his team collected over 30 pounds of rock samples, which they hauled even as they weakened and their survival seemed progressively less certain.

Scott had some serious bad luck and worse weather, but nonetheless did make some serious errors; instead of spending years in the Arctic learning from the Inuit like Amundsen did, and learning how to use dogs, he wrote:

One cannot calmly contemplate the murder of animals which possess such intelligence and individuality, which have frequently such endearing qualities, and which very possibly one has learnt to regard as friends and companions.

But he was perfectly happy to bring along, torture and eventually kill completely inappropriate horses.

More at Discovery News

Tags: Antarctica | Wayback Machine

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