Very few humans ever step foot onto Antarctica, and fewer still will ever trek to the South Pole, which is why this new video tour inside the 80,000 square foot elevated US research station down there -- where hundreds of researchers and scientists live for weeks and months at a time -- is so fascinating. It's revealing for many reasons, not least of which because the whole compound looks a lot more fun and entertaining than you'd expect for a place that's so far removed from civilization and never gets above 10 degrees Fahrenheit.
The 20-minute walk-through is led by a Virginia high school science teacher who spent a few weeks last month working at the Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station, the largest of the dozens of others run by various countries there. You get a sense that the place is a bit like a full-on college dorm that's been banished to Siberia. The sleeping cabins are basically tiny dorm rooms, and the cafeteria looks a lot like a coed dining hall, complete with the requisite cookie and self-serve ice cream station.
There are also a suite of other surprising amenities like a music room stocked with electric guitars and a drumset, a full indoor basketball court, a workout room, a library, a movie lounge, an arts & crafts room, a greenhouse growing fresh veggies, and a sauna -- all of which must be a handy distraction for the bare-bones winter crew that holds out there for the six month Antarctic night. It also boasts a clinic with a PA or doctor on call at all hours, and even a store, which -- among other things -- apparently sells "cool sweatshirts." There's even an official US Post Office, should one want to send anyone back home a cool sweatshirt (there are several flights out per day to the main US base on Antarctica 850 miles away via ski-equipped aircraft).
While it may not be enough convince you to switch careers to atmospheric science or some other discipline that might warrant a stint at the world's Southernmost point, the video is proof that life down there seems a lot less bleak than many of us might have imagined.
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