One of the focuses of this special addition to Google Maps is to teach users about the history of Antarctic exploration and the people who first set up shop in this bleak environment.
Here’s what Google’s technical program manager for Street View Alex Starns wrote in a blog post:
In the winter of 1913, a British newspaper ran an advertisement to promote the latest imperial expedition to Antarctica, apparently placed by polar explorer Ernest Shackleton. It read, “Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in event of success.” While the ad appears apocryphal, the dangerous nature of the journey to the South Pole is certainly not–as explorers like Roald Amundsen, Robert Falcon Scott and Shackleton himself discovered as they tried to become the first men to reach it.
Partnering with the Polar Geospatial Center at the University of Minnesota and the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust, Google has added 360-degree images of many historic spots, including the South Pole Telescope, Shackleton’s and Scott’s small wooden huts, Cape Royds Adelie Penguin Rookery, and the Ceremonial South Pole.
“They were built to withstand the drastic weather conditions only for the few short years that the explorers inhabited them,” Starns wrote, “but remarkably, after more than a century, the structures are still intact, along with well-preserved examples of the food, medicine, survival gear and equipment used during the expeditions.”
Peter Jackson has released his newest high definition HD Hobbit movie video blog from New Zealand. This time the video features Jackson at the studio and introduces many popular Hobbit characters. Enjoy!
Scientists on a research voyage in Bass Straight (south of Australia) got an exhilarating surprise when they chanced upon what might be the world’s most mysterious and elusive whale: the Shepherd’s beaked whale. It is believed this is the first time the species has ever been captured on video (shown below).
Since the Shepherd’s beaked whale was first described in 1937, there have been only 3 confirmed sightings of the animal besides this one. Due to its extreme rarity, almost nothing is known about the species. What little is known has mostly been derived from strandings or carcasses that have washed ashore. But just over 40 such strandings have ever been recorded.
Adults of the species can reach lengths of about 20-23 feet and typically weigh about 2.32 to 3.48 tons. They have a dark brown color on their dorsal side but are cream-colored ventrally, and males display a pair of tusks at the tip of the lower jaw.
One of the reasons the whales are so difficult to spot is that they are typically found only in deep, offshore habitats where sighting conditions are rarely ideal (i.e., along the latitudes commonly referred to as the “Roaring 40’s” and “Furious 50’s”). Like other beaked whales within the family Ziphidae, Shepherd’s beaked whales can also dive for long periods– over an hour at a time– and to extreme depths. In fact, most beaked whales dive to such great depths that they must surface slowly to avoid decompression sickness.
All sightings and strandings of the Shepherd’s beaked whales have occurred in waters off New Zealand, Australia and Tasmania.
Peter Jackson’s first video production blog for The Hobbit for 2012.
Looks like they’ve started shooting part 2 of The Hobbit now which will be coming out in 2013, while the first part comes out this Christmas 2012. There’s also some cool footage of Andy Serkis directing the 2nd unit as well.