Norwegian Scientists Plan To Freeze Themselves In Polar Ice

polar
Wikimedia Commons

A hundred and twenty years ago, Norwegian scientist Fridtjof Nansen started a journey that made him one of the greatest explorers of all time. He set out to purposely get his ship frozen in the polar ice.

The reason? To study polar currents. His ship, the Fram, was purpose-built for the task. It needed to be; many crews had perished in the far north when their ships got frozen and then crushed by ice. The Fram spent three years stuck in the ice as the crew studied currents, took soundings and gathered a host of other scientific data that researchers are still sifting through. Not content with this adventure, Nansen set off on skis in a failed bid to be the first to the North Pole.

Nansen (1861-1930) was fascinated with the world of the Arctic. He was the first to ski across Greenland in 1888 and wrote about his adventures in The First Crossing of Greenland. This was the first of many exciting travel books he’d write. His most famous is Farthest North, his account of the Fram expedition. Nansen went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize for his work helping refugees after World War I, including the many victims of the Armenian Genocide. His ship is preserved at The Fram Museum in Oslo.

Now researchers at the Norwegian Polar Institute want to get their own ship frozen in the ice. They’re hoping to take an old Arctic research vessel that’s slated for the scrapyard and get it stuck in the ice during the winter of 2014-15.

They plan on studying the conditions of the ice, conditions that have changed markedly in the past few years. With the warming of the poles, most ice is only a year old, instead of being several years old like the ice that Nansen studied. This young ice is thinner, more saline, and has different reflective properties than older ice. Such a study may yield important data on how the Arctic is changing due to global warming.

You can read more about Nansen and the proposed project in an excellent two-part series on Science Nordic.

Gift Guide: Five great new travel books

travel book
Looking for a gift for your travel-loving friends? A beautiful or useful travel book will always be well-received. Here are a few of our favorite new titles this year:

FOR THE ROAD-TRIPPER:
New York Times, 36 Hours: 150 Weekends in the USA and Canada,
$39.95
Publisher TASCHEN pairs one of the newspaper’s most popular columns with a beautiful coffee table book about 150 different locations. Enjoy recommendations for 600 restaurants and 450 hotels and nearly 1,000 photos. All of the stories were updated for this volume by a Times travel editor, so the information is even current.

FOR THOSE WITH WANDERLUST:
Great Escapes around the World, Vol. II, $29.95
Enjoy inspiring getaways from California to Zanzibar in this round-up of the world’s most exceptional hotels and retreats.

FOR THE LUXE LOVER:
The Grand Bazaar, Istanbul
, $250
Luxe publisher Assouline’s books are instant classics, beautifully bound and presented in such a way that they’ll be kept for years to come. Their latest travel title captures the beauty of the grand Istandbul bazaar in nearly 300 pages.

FOR THE CITY DWELLER:
New York Rooftop Gardens
, 59.95

Publisher teNeues offers up a number of great titles each year (including new ones on Kenya, India and Iconic New York) but we can’t help but love this hardback photo book featuring some of New York City’s most beautiful rooftop gardens.

FOR THE FOOD LOVER:
Lonely Planet: A Moveable Feast
, $14.99
Written by Gadling’s own features editor Don George, this award-winning book takes us on life-changing foodie adventures around the world.

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Want to have your travel stories published in a book?

wegetthereHave you ever wanted to have your travel stories published in a book? Well, now here’s your chance. The bloggers behind wegetthere operate under the strong belief that “travel means freedom”, and they strive to create a community of travelers, explorers, and adventurers. Taking their mission one step further, the bloggers have decided to put together a book, relevantly titled “Travel Means Freedom”, written by the travel community.

Anyone is eligible to share their travel stories. All that you must do is click here to be guided through the 3 steps:

  • Download the Microsoft Word template for your story.
  • Write a travel story that is about 1,000 words long.
  • Submit the contact information form.

That’s it! Submissions are being accepted through November 22, 2011. The book will be available in print and digital format, and selected contributors will receive 80% of the profits made from digital book sales. To learn more and submit your story, click here.

Travel Read: The Coffee Story

coffeeAs a writer, I read many books by authors I know. As a traveler, I read lots of books set in places I’ve been. The Coffee Story by Peter Salmon gave me the rare chance to read a book about a place I love written by someone I met there.

For the record, I don’t review books by friends because that’s both unprofessional and unwise. Peter isn’t a friend except in the Facebook sense of “I got drunk with this guy once and have his email address”.

I met Peter while I was living in Harar, Ethiopia. Peter’s novel is set in Harar in the 1930s and just weeks before it was published he visited for the first time. That’s right, he visited Harar after he wrote the book.

To 99.9% of his readership that doesn’t matter since they’ve never been to Harar. I have and it did. The book is laden with mistakes. For example, Peter has Harar surrounded by jungle when in fact it’s surrounded by rocky hills and cultivated fields, and where the hell did the Jain community come from? He also uses the G-word for the Oromo. While I suppose this epithet would have been in common usage among whites living in Ethiopia in the 1930s, it will do nothing to endear him to Ethiopian readers.

But this isn’t really a story about Harar, or indeed about coffee. These are simply backdrops with which to tell the story of Theodore Everett, heir to a huge coffee business, now dying of cancer. Most of the action takes place 70 years before, when he’s a kid on his father’s plantation in Harar, where the best coffee in the world comes from. Ignored by his greedy and abusive father, Theodore falls under the sway of an Ethiopian Marxist and other locals, as well as a mysterious white girl who emerges from the jungle one day.

Theodore tells us right off that he’s “not given to suspense” and a terrible showdown is inevitable between the Marxist and his father. To steal the title of a wonderful film, there will be blood. It’s a tribute to Salmon’s excellent storytelling that the final showdown, when it comes, is nevertheless laden with suspense. We have an inkling of what’s going to happen all along, but like two cars veering towards a head-on collision, it’s terrible to see them hit.

While there’s no sense of place beyond a stereotypical “deepest, darkest Africa” worthy of some old Tarzan flick, most characters are brilliantly drawn and often hilarious, and the prose loops and curls in on itself. Like many old men, Theodore repeats himself constantly. This gets a bit irritating but the characters and narrative tension kept me turning pages. The prose is rich (bonus points for using “flibbertigibbet”) and the characters spring to life the first sentence they’re introduced.

I give this book three out of five stars. Sorry Peter, I know it’s my round, but while you’re an excellent stylist and a sharp wit, the whole thing veers a wee bit too close to neocolonialism. You put Harar in a jungle because Africa’s all jungle, right? The Ethiopians all sound like Europeans with a bit of earthy spiritualism thrown in for color, and the only female Ethiopian character is oversexed and two-dimensional. Although she’s sleeping with the underaged protagonist, Theodore’s One True Love is the only white girl he meets in Africa. And the blackface scene made me embarrassed even though I wasn’t the one who wrote it.

There’s an old adage among writers: stick with what you know. Set your next novel in England or Australia and you’ll write a masterpiece.

Galley Gossip: The Best Women’s Travel Writing 2010 – book giveaway!


I have an announcement to make, a very big one. But first I must tell you about a wonderful book, The Best Women’s Travel Writing 2010: True stories from around the world, edited by Stephanie Elizondo Griest. It’s an anthology full of fascinating travel tales by interesting women from all walks of life. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you do, or where you’re going – or not going – there’s something for everyone in this book. And I’m giving copies away to two lucky Gadling readers! (Details at the bottom of this post)

It’s the kind of book that makes you want to travel, or at least go to your local Pakistani restaurant and order the chicken haleem extra spicy, which is exactly what I did right after reading The Heat Seeker, by Alison Stein Wellner. My mother, who also read the book, couldn’t stop laughing over the phone as she recounted the story, Desert Queen, written by Diane Caldwell. I don’t think she’ll be planning a trip to the desert anytime soon. And neither one of us could get over Design a Vagina, written by Johanna Gohmann, which caused my mother to shriek, “I would never!” as if I actually thought she might.

Travelers Tales writes…

This best-selling, award-winning series presents the finest accounts of women who have traveled to the ends of the earth to discover new places, peoples – and themselves. The common threads connecting the stories are a woman’s perspective and lively storytelling to make the reader laugh, cry, wish she were there, or be glad she wasn’t. From climbing a volcano in Ecuador to running a kennel for pariah dogs in India to helping prepare meals in Iran, the points of view and perspectives are global and the themes eclectic, including stories that encompass spiritual growth, hilarity and misadventure, high adventure, romance, solo journeys, stories of service to humanity, family travel, and encounters with exotic cuisine.

In The Best Women’s Travel Writing 2010:

  • A search for the perfect wave in New Zealand provides a lesson in love
  • Curiosity leads to an understanding of political activism and human rights in Burma
  • A childless American is adopted by a six-year-old and becomes part of the family in Italy
  • Cultural understanding deepens in surprising ways through language lessons in
    Vietnam
  • On a fact-finding mission in Afghanistan, a retired professor learns that peace is
    everything
    Zandvoort
  • A day on a nude beach in the Netherlands gives a self-described “prude” a new appreciation of body types, and comfort with her own
  • …and much more.

So…can you guess who the “prude” on the nude beach might be? ME! That’s right, my essay, An Ode To B-Cups, is also included in the book! (Read an excerpt HERE.) I’ll even autograph the books….if you want. Just let me know.

HOW TO WIN:

  • To enter, simply leave a comment below – or better yet, share a travel tip! – whichever you prefer.
  • The comment must be left before April 2, 2010 at 5pm Eastern time
  • You may enter only once.
  • Two winners will be selected in a random drawing.
  • Two Grand Prize Winners will receive a free, autographed copy of Women’s Best Travel Writing 2010, edited by Stephanie Griest
  • Open to legal residents of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia who are 18 and older.
  • Book is valued at $17.95
  • Click here for complete Official Rules

GOOD LUCK!

Photos courtesy of Travelers Tales and Photorisma