Rebecca Priestley | paperback | 422 pages | 2016
Since British explorer James Cook first circumnavigated Antarctica in the late eighteenth century, the white continent has exerted a powerful attraction. There is no permanent human habitation in this ice-bound wilderness, and no mercy from the raw, relentless elements, yet for nearly 200 years explorers and scientists from around the world have been drawn to work and sometimes risk their lives here. This landmark anthology brilliantly reveals the numerous scientific discoveries that have been made, from how sea creatures survive in the freezing waters, to the continent’s extraordinary proliferation of meteorites, and the startling revelations of fossils, which show Antarctica was once covered in luxuriant forests teeming with creatures. In the early days, countries vied to establish a presence on the continent in order to try and claim its resources. Today scientists observe the arrival of particles from space, and examine ice cores, sea-floor sediments, and rocks hewn by glaciers to try and better understand the universe we live in, to uncover the complexities of climate change, and to understand how a land once covered in forests became a frozen desert.
More than an anthology, this book is a thrilling journey through time as explorers and scientists painstakingly unravel the profound mysteries of Earth’s last great wilderness.