Saturday, March 15, 2008

So why does the South Pole exist?

Actual conversation from this morning:

Nico: Is the South Pole in the middle of Antarctica?
me: Yes, it is.
Nico: Is the South Pole the only part of Antarctica where there's penguins?
me: Actually, the penguins don't live at the South Pole because it's too far away from the ocean. They live more around the edges, by the sea [indicating on the map Nico has drawn of Antarctica].
Nico: So who lives at the South Pole?
me: Nobody lives at the South Pole.
Nico: So why does the South Pole exist then?
me: Oh, I dunno. No reason, I guess...


Anonymous said...

It's the archaeological hiding place of all things related to the Book of Mormon.

They have invisible penguins there, too.

Too early for blogging on a Sunday - I'm going for another round of coffee.


John Evo said...

The Anticlaus live there.

Wow. I hope the person asking the questions was, um, six years old?

Speaking of Penguins, I just found out a rather remarkable fact about them. Did you know that there are penguins that live as far north as the equator? If you do, you probably think I'm silly for just learning this.

Exterminator convinced me to read The Beak of the Finch, written by the most excellent science writer Jonathan Weiner (His Brother's Keeper, among others. But that's the only other one I've read). Anyway, point is, there are penguins at the equator. Where?
On Darwin's Islands - the Galapagos.

The reason Ex wanted me to read it was because he thought the books on evolution that I was recommending to people who didn't accept it but were willing to listen to reason, were too hard for laypeople. I guess his right. Anyway, I certainly agreed that Beak is a good starting place and definitely within any readers grasp.

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey Sideon -- lol!!! ;^)

Hey John!!!

The Anticlaus? That's a good one, I'll have to tell Nico that!!! Yep, he's six. :D

BTW, I love The Beak of the Finch!!! I read it years ago (and it's unfortunately with the rest of our books in storage at the moment), but you're right -- it gives some good lay explanation of evolution and the types of scientific experiments that demonstrate that it's going on.

GZ said...

Actually, scientists live there, so there is a reason for it existing - to entertain them for months on end!

beatdad said...

Wow! He has already figured out that
every thing is meaningless. You must be so proud.

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey George!!!

That's fascinating -- I knew there were scientists in Antarctica, but I didn't realize they were at the South Pole itself. The things you learn on the Internet!!! I'll have to pass this info along to Nico -- I'm sure he'll be interested to know.

Hey Wayne!!!

Well yes and no. He seems to think that the South Pole ought to have a reason to exist...

Hellmut said...

Cute! Somebody is on the verge of discovering that the universe is not revolving around human beings. Great insight to live a well adjusted life.

mathmom said...

On Saturday morning, NPR had a report on the people living at the South Pole as part of their "Climate Connections" series. I especially liked the part about the living quarters.

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey Hellmut!!!

Exactly. I was thinking of pointing out that nobody lives on Mars or Jupiter either. There are plenty of things that aren't there for people (or animals), they're just there.

Hey Mathmom!!!

Wow, that's cool!!! I will definitely show that to Nico.

** update **

This morning Nico and I discussed this again while riding the bus to school. I told him that in fact I was mistaken about nobody living at the South Pole -- scientists live there. He didn't understand who I meant by that, so I explained that scientists are like those people who study different species of animals or reconstruct buried skeletons in all his BBC nature videos. He was very impressed to learn that all of those guys live at the South Pole!!! So, of course, I had to explain that only some of them live at the South Pole, but that -- like humans and crocodiles -- there are scientists on every continent.

Then we had a bit of a discussion about who lives at the opposite pole: the North Pole. Nico explained that it's Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus and all the elves and reindeer, etc. It is so weird to me that he insists on believing Santa Claus is real -- he's quite resistant every time I try to suggest that maybe Santa is just a fictional character. So I told him about the "Anti-Claus": I explained that since the area around the North Pole is the Arctic and the area around the South Pole is the Antarctic, then if the North Pole has Santa Claus, the South Pole must have the Anti-Claus!!! That was where we finally broke his suspension of disbelief. He immediately replied "No, you're just joking!" and laughed.

beatdad said...

Doesn't the South Pole have something to do with the magnetic orientation of the Earth?

It seems that I learned that in geography.....sadly, I did only get a C out of that class.

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey Wayne!!!

I think the pole is point that marks the Earth's axis of rotation, and that the magnetic pole is nearby but not on exactly the same spot. We'll see if any more scientists swing by and correct that statement! :D

John Evo said...

Not a scientist but I have done a study of the Anti-Clause, and you are spot on, as Richard Dawkins might say!

Craig said...

You're right, the magnetic poles are a ways off from true north and south. For example, the magnetic north pole is actually on an island in Canada, so if you're in far northern Canada, compasses don't point any where close to north. You have to massively correct for the difference.

I always thought that if you stand near, but not on the north pole and face north, your compass will tell you're facing south.

Maybe I just think this is so interesting because I'm Canadian.

C. L. Hanson said...

Thanks John and [kɹeɪ̯g̊]!!!

Of course it's interesting -- and not just for Canadians! :D