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Antarctica: An Intimate Portrait of a Mysterious Continentby Gabrielle Walker
Synopses & Reviews
Antarctica is the most alien place on the planet, the only part of the earth where humans could never survive unaided. Out of our fascination with it have come many books, most of which focus on only one aspect of its unique strangeness. None has managed to capture the whole story—until now.
Drawing on her broad travels across the continent, in Antarctica Gabrielle Walker weaves all the significant threads of life on the vast ice sheet into an intricate tapestry, illuminating what it really feels like to be there and why it draws so many different kinds of people. With her we witness cutting-edge science experiments, visit the South Pole, lodge with American, Italian, and French researchers, drive snowdozers, drill ice cores, and listen for the message Antarctica is sending us about our future in an age of global warming.
This is a thrilling trip to the farthest reaches of earth by one of the best science writers working today.
"Science writer Walker (Snowball Earth) offers a cross-disciplinary tour of Antarctica — its geology, biology, climate, and history — along with an illuminating picture of the lives of the scientists who temporarily live on the forbidding continent. Writing in a fluid style, Walker surveys the fascinating sea life in the frigid waters, such as spiders one thousand times bigger than their land-bound cousins, and fish that literally have antifreeze in their veins. In addition to the biologists, Antarctica's scientific community includes meteor-hunting geologists, climatologists studying the ancient ice to trace the oscillations in Earth's climate, and astronomers who brave the winter to benefit from the clarity of the Antarctic skies. A highlight is Walker's chronicle of the rhythms of an Antarctic winter and the coping strategies the winter crews employ to survive the harsh otherworldly environment. For example, the tone for the new winter is set when the crew sits down to watch the science-fiction classic The Thing, set at the South Pole, and in the dead of winter the brave attempt to join the 300 Club, which requires that they sit in a sauna until the temperature is 200F and then run, naked no less, into the -100F air, however briefly. This all-in-one survey successfully captures the frozen continent. 2 maps. Agent: Michael Carlisle, Inkwell Management." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Journeying to the most alien place on the planet, science writer Gabrielle Walker presents a biography of Antarctica, weaving its history of exploration with the science currently being conducted there. Walker gives us glimpses at the marvelous creatures clinging to life above and below the ice, the international community drawn to an existence of extremes, the desolate stretches of surface that yield surprising information about life beyond our planet, and the crumbling ice shelves acting as global climate bellwethers.
About the Author
GABRIELLE WALKER has a PhD in chemistry from Cambridge University and has taught at both Cambridge and Princeton universities. She is a consultant to New Scientist, contributes frequently to BBC Radio, and writes for many newspapers and magazines. She is also the author of four books, including An Ocean of Air and Antarctica. She lives in London.
Table of Contents
Map of Antarctica x
PART 1: EAST ANTARCTIC COAST - ALIEN WORLD
1. Welcome to Mactown 3
2. The March of the Penguins 33
3. Mars on Earth 89
PART 2: THE HIGH PLATEAU - TURNING POINT
4. The South Pole 141
5. Concordia 213
PART 3: WEST ANTARCTICA - HOME TRUTHS
6. A Human Touch 259
7. Into the West 309
Suggestions for Further Reading 363
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