Life in The Freezer: Amundsen Frozen in Time

Posted: Dec 14, 2012 08:50 pm EST

(Correne Coetzer) During the South Pole centenary celebrations on December 14th, 2011, the Norwegian Prime Minister, Jens Stoltenberg, unveiled an ice bust of Roald Amundsen, the leader of team who discovered the Geographic South Pole on December 14th, 1911.

Since then, what happened to Amundsen? The bust, that is: from an ice tunnel, to a roaming soul, to a colorful jello.

ExplorersWeb checked in with South Pole winter-over IceCube scientist, Sven Lidstrom before he left the SP station at the beginning of the summer season, to find out how the bust was created and what happened to Amundsen during the summer season and thereafter.

The bust was the artwork of Oslo sculptor, Håkon Anton Fagerås. Sven explains, "He was not physically present at the Pole to create the sculpture but made a mold in Oslo, which was send to the South Pole."

"The Norwegians brought a mold with them down to the South Pole. This mold was used to make the busts where the scientists filled it with water. There were actually several busts made."

"As a side note," says Sven, "they actually got help from one of the ICECUBE/ICETOP engineers on how to avoid getting air bubbles in the ice when the water freezes. The first one they made had a lot of bubbles in it, which is not as nice as one without it."

The IceCube scientists, searching for dark matter and studying neutrinos, have the same problem when the ice refreezes for them, says Sven. "Air bubbles in the ice create a lot of disturbance for us since the light is scattered all over so we really want to avoid that."

"Since they brought the mold they could make as many busts as they wanted and as far as I know they made 3 "good" busts for the summer. One, the best one, was placed at the Pole for the summer and eventually the sun took its toll on it. At the end of the summer it was quite deformed."

"The second one, backup #1 found its way down to the ice tunnels where it is on display. The ice tunnels run under station and since it is underground it keeps our yearly average temperature -50°C. They go all over the place and in them are different artifacts left through the years. It is a very fun and interesting, and cold, place to walk through."

"Backup # 2 was later used at couple of parties during the summer, kind of having Amundsen's soul among us. Not sure what happen to it in the end."

The mold was left at the South Pole Station and during the winter the winter-overs have used it a couple of times; once to make an enormous jello, says Sven, "in different colors for desert one night, Amundsen night, and then to make a couple of new busts. One was made just the other week."

Video below of the unveiling of the bust, courtesy of The Norwegian Prime Minister's office on flickr



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Sven Lidstrom: "The second bust, backup #1 found its way down to the [South Pole] ice tunnels where it is on display."
Image by Sven Lidstrom courtesy Sven Lidstrom
"The ice tunnels run under station and since it is underground it keeps our yearly average temperature -50°C."
Image by Sven Lidstrom courtesy Sven Lidstrom
"[The ice tunnels] go all over the place and in them are different artifacts left through the years."
Image by Sven Lidstrom courtesy Sven Lidstrom
"It is a very fun and interesting, and cold, place to walk through."
Image by Sven Lidstrom courtesy Sven Lidstrom
The bust still covered while the Norwegian Prime Minister delivered his speech on December 14th, 2011 (New Zeeland time.)
Image by Norsk Polar Institute courtesy Norsk Polar Institute
The bust still covered while the Norwegian Prime Minister delivered his speech on December 14th, 2011 (New Zeeland time.)
Image by Norsk Polar Institute courtesy Norsk Polar Institute
Amundsen's ice bust, December 14th, 2011.
Image by Correne Coetzer ExplorersWeb courtesy Correne Coetzer ExplorersWeb, SOURCE
Sven: "You can, in the summer photos, see how the sun took its toll on the bust, notice of the ears and nose."
Image by Sven Lidstrom courtesy Sven Lidstrom
Sven: "That is what about 2 weeks sun did to it."
Image by Sven Lidstrom courtesy Sven Lidstrom