Jerri Nielsen: Surviving The Last Place On Earth

There may be no place on Earth less visited by humans than the South Pole. Despite a permanent research base with buildings clustered about the pole and active scientific programs, comparatively few people have made the arduous journey there. From October to February, up to 200 people may be stationed at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station for the Antarctic summer, and tourists checking an item off their bucket lists come and go. But by March, when the sun dips below the horizon for the next six months, almost everyone has cleared out, except for a couple of dozen “winter-overs” who settle in to maintain the station, carry on research, and survive the worst weather Mother Nature brews up anywhere on the planet.

To be a winter-over means accepting the fact that whatever happens, once that last plane leaves, you’re on your own for eight months. Such isolation and self-reliance require special people, and Dr. Jerri Nielsen was one who took the challenge. But as she and the other winter-overs watched the last plane leave the Pole in 1998 and prepared for the ritual first-night screening of John Carpenter’s The Thing, she had no way of knowing what she would have to do to survive the cancer that was even then growing inside her.

Continue reading “Jerri Nielsen: Surviving The Last Place On Earth”

Hackaday Links: January 17, 2016

The BBC has commissioned a new series of Robot Wars. This is not Battlebots; that show was revived last year, and a second season will air again this summer. Robot Wars is the one with the ‘house’ robots. We would like to take this opportunity to remind the BBC that Robot Wars is neither Scrapheap Challenge nor Junkyard Wars, and by virtue of that fact alone is an inferior show.

[Fran] is a favorite around these parts. She’s taken apart a Saturn V Launch Vehicle Digital Computer, visited the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum warehouse, and is the occasional host of the Dinosaur Den with [Bil Herd]. Now, she’s relaunching her line of guitar pedals. ‘Boutique’ pedals are a weird market, but with the help of a few manufacturers, [Fran] is bringing her Peachfuzz pedal back to life through Kickstarter.

Want to be an astronaut? Here’s the application.

Here’s your monthly, ‘WTF is this thing on eBay’ link. It’s a clamshell/toilet seat iBook (c.2000), loaded up with an Intel i5 Broadwell CPU, 128 GB of Flash storage, 4 GB of RAM, a 12″ 1024×768 LCD, Gigabit Ethernet, WiFi, Bluetooth, and runs OS X El Capitan. I might be mistaken, but it looks like someone took the motherboard out of a 2015 MacBook Air, crammed it into a sixteen year old computer, and put it up on eBay. I’m not saying that’s what it is; this is from China, and there are people over there making new improved motherboards for a Thinkpad x61. Weirder stuff has already happened.

In the last installment of the Travelling Hacker Box, I asked if anyone can receive mail in Antarctica. A person with friends in the British survey team emailed me, but nothing came of that. It’s summer, so if Antarctica is going to happen, it needs to happen soon.

Repairing A Plane In Antarctica

One of our tipsters just sent us in an amazing story about repairing a plane in Antarctica — and flying it home!

On December 20, 2012 a Basler BT-67 Turbo 67 (DC-3T) — named Lidia — went down in Antarctica. Thankfully out of its 15 passengers there were no fatalities. For full details on the crash you can check out the accident description on the Aviation Safety Network.

Lidia was built back in the 1940’s, with its wings apparently put together by Rosie the Riveter herself in 1943. Its virgin flight was in 1944. Today, it is operate(d) as a tour plane, and before the accident it was conducting a tour of the Holtanna Glacier in Antarctica.

The plane sat in the snow for almost a year, before a team came back to repair it and bring it home. The expedition lasted two months, and they brought with them two new engines, a new cockpit, landing gear, and fuselage repair supplies. They’ve shared an incredible slideshow of photos that are available on Facebook, or you can stick around after the break to watch a video slideshow of the process.

Can you even begin to imagine repairing a car in Antarctica conditions — let alone a freaking airplane?

Continue reading “Repairing A Plane In Antarctica”