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Antarctica: An Intimate Portrait of a Mysterious Continent 1st Edition
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"A dazzling array of narratives throngs Antarctica...Antarctica is still the 'world’s most mysterious continent,' as it remains the only one on which humans have never lived permanently. Walker captures that mystique through interviews with people who have made Antarctica part of their lives." —Nature
"Walker's a clear explainer and engaging guide, her descriptions evocative...The true protagonist here is Antarctica itself, and in Walker's rendering it easily carries that leading role."
—Tampa Bay Times
"Walker tells in rich detail what it’s like to survive and do science on the only continent never inhabited by human beings. She spends time with dozens of investigators, revealing both their work and the inner workings of their minds...Walker offers a diverse sampling of the seventh continent and the science done there." —American Scientist
"A vivid portrait...We are all anxious Antarctic watchers now, and Walker's book is the essential primer." —The Guardian
"Walker gained access to a variety of fascinating places and projects. There are fresh and informative sections on the fauna and microflora of this harshest of all habitats, on the use of Antarctica as a terrestrial and cosmic observatory...Walker is also good at sketching the oddly beguiling world of the scientists and support workers who return year after year to Antarctic research stations." —The Telegraph
"Hugely informative...Walker uses direct speech to render the material digestible, allowing her protagonists to speak for themselves. She has a gift for lay analogy, as a popular science writer must." —The Spectator
"The fascinating story of Antarctica, from the hardships of exploration to its future survival." —The Ecologist
"Walker’s account affords a vibrant vicarious experience of traveling around the place on earth most like an alien planet." —Booklist
Top Customer Reviews
Walker says because Antarctica is the oldest landscape in the world it's still telling its story to anyone who stays long enough to hear. Although Antarctica is bigger than the continental US and has forty-nine temporary bases it officially belongs to nobody. An international treaty was signed by forty-nine countries declaring the entire place to 'peace and science' in the early 60s.
Walker reports the history and cutting-edge science experiments on the giant West and larger East Antarctic Ice Sheets, the vulnerable Western Amundsen Coast, the rapidly warming Antarctic Peninsula, the massive barrier-like Ross and Ronne Ice Shelves and the South Pole.
It's fascinating to learn how the South Pole's Remote Earth Science and Seismological Observatory looks inwards to the Earth's core to measure earthquakes and construct an image of the Earth's mantle - it has a liquid outer core made of pure iron and a hot hard solid sphere of iron in the center. Because the observatory picks up the seismic waves of nuclear bombs they can make sure nobody cheats on the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
At the same time giant telescopes high on the summits of the high plateau of the eastern ice sheets probe the cold, dry sky to see parts of the Universe that other telescopes can't reach.
Walker says the Earth's history, buried as bubbles of ancient air in ice core samples in Antarctica tell us beyond any doubt that our burning of oil, coal and gas has significantly changed our atmosphere.Read more ›
"Antarctica: An Intimate Portrait of the Word's Most Mysterious Continent" is a profound narrative of the author's stay on the continent. She spent quite a bit of time there, and shares it all - the scientific studies she visited and took part in, the history she found, the people she met, and the feelings she had along the way. I appreciate that the author didn't get too technical, but the material isn't "dumbed down" either. It's exactly the right narrative for us non-scientists and history nerds. I really couldn't ask more from a book like this. It was a more than satisfying read.
Thanks to the fantastic notes the author has left us, including a list of "further reading," it will be easy to find out more about this lonely, dynamic continent.
I'll be searching out more of Gabrielle Walker's writings. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
Lord Gilbert: "If I may burden your Lordships, I recommend to you all reading a marvelous new book written by an Englishwoman called Gabrielle Walker. It is simply entitled Antarctica. It is 350 pages long; I have another 30 pages to read. It is brilliant. Anyone who reads the penultimate chapter alone will take seriously the question of human responsibility for our future as being reflected in the developments in West Antarctica."
And what changes there have been.
The men of 100 years ago who struggled to reach the South Pole by the only means possible at the time - months of arduous and sometimes fatal journeys on foot - would be astonished to find humans living there year-round today, with living comforts similar to home, and in constant contact with home.
The author, who has spent considerable time on the Antarctic continent herself, takes us along with her on visits to the Amundsen Scott station at the Pole as well as a number of other of the outposts scattered across the continent, all of which are there for the purpose of doing scientific research (with one odd exception). She tells us about having a drink with 800,000 year old ice cubes (presumably for the novelty, as one can't imagine too much demand for chilled beverages in Antarctica), how the atmosphere at each station various according to the nation that runs the station (naturally the French have the best food), how she went from hating penguins to loving them, and more - and colors the whole experience with stories from the heroic age of exploration. You'll pick up a lot of little factoids, including learning that children and domestic animals are prohibited on the continent.
Another of the things that has changed since the heroic age is that women are now present on the continent - as the author tells us over and over, as though this is a surprise.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Gabrielle Walker is a scientist who writes like a novelist and the result is a fascinating book about a place that is highly relevant to today's world and what is happening... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Terpsichore
I really liked this book.Great stories about living in Antarctica and excellent scientific knowledge at a level an average person could relate to.Published 3 months ago by SHD-Blue
The book is a trip report by a science journalist who visited several research stations in Antarctica to learn what they were doing, what they were learning and what it was like to... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Frank H.
This book covers all aspects of Antarctica, from the history, to the scientific research to the tourist trade. Read morePublished 5 months ago by jjo
Have never been nor do I expect to ever visit Antarctica - but thought this would be a good book on what it is to live and work there. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Gregg A. Moser
Very informative, sounds like a different place for a vacation...perhaps a working vacation would be best.....Published 7 months ago by DEXTER DON
This gives all the details you need for traveling to the Antarctic in a friendly, easy-to-read style. Not dry, like a scientific paper. I would recommend it.Published 9 months ago by Amazon Customer