Saturday, February 9, 2008

Essay Amundsen Competition

I have won a two-week trip on board of the Canadian Arctic Polar Research Icebreaker ‘Amundsen’, from April 24 – May 8, 2008. It was a competition organised by the World Federation of Science Journalists, for which you had to write a short essay and send your CV.

Here is the short essay that I wrote:

I must have been around ten years when I received a second hand version of Scott’s last voyage – Through the Antarctic camera of Herbert Ponting: the thrilling but tragic story of Antarctic explorer Robert Scott, who lost the race to reach the South Pole first against his rival Amundsen. By reading this book, and looking at the wonderful old pictures of Antarctica, my passion to discover the world around me – both by science and by traveling – was born. This passion has always driven me ever since. It has driven me into science and later into science journalism, and it has driven me into traveling around the world and learning about this wonderful but fragile planet.

Thinking about a week on board an arctic research icebreaker, being able to see both the sublime beauty of the arctic and the tragic results of global warming, is for me an ultimate dream. A dream that brings back my earliest memories that combine science with traveling. A dream that gives me finally the opportunity to write from inside some popular scientific stories about research in the arctic. It is my conviction and experience that it is crucial for a science journalist not to do your work just from behind the comfortable writing desk, but to actually go to the places where the research is being done, and talk at the spot to the scientists and not just by telephone.

I have written stories about global warming, I have written stories about the Artic and the Antarctic, I have talked to researchers who experienced the arctic conditions, but I have never been in these extreme areas. I finally would like to see, hear, feel and smell myself what a wonderful place the arctic is, and what a tragedy it would be if there would be no arctic ice left in the summer months, due to global warming. The Arctic wouldn’t be the Arctic anymore.

The book about Scott’s last voyage ends with the words “To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield”, words that are written on the cross that commemorates the place where Scott died. These words, for me, have always been the motto that should inspire both the traveler, the scientist and the science journalist. With that motto in mind I would love to board the Amundsen icebreaker and report about the arctic research.

About the essay contest that was organized last year, in the context of the International Polar Year 2007/2008:

About the winners:
(Clicking on the names you get the short essays)

About the ship:

About the scientific research: