Antarctica is a white continent at the tip of the world and is nothing less than a fictional planet from some other universe in a novel. It might be the only untouched place on the earth, which is like heaven or maybe hell too, lacking a heart. A place without sunset or a rising sun, Antarctica is the only continent without any countries or governments to date. A perfect place for a ship of an antagonist to get crash in—where the weather is at its youth. Where youth means being the coldest place on earth (−10°C on the coast to −60°C at the highest parts of the interior), for being the windiest place on earth, can go up to 300km/h. With such extreme environmental situations, we can say that Antarctica has not yet lost its virginity to human touch. This blog will enlighten you about the unheard mystery of Antarctica and unknown facts about it.
The Mystery behind the Name
In 350 BC, Aristotle truly proclaimed that the earth is not flat but rather round. Hence, the Greeks knew that there existed a place somewhere to the north and called it “Arctos” naming it after the constellation “The great bear.” According to their belief in the round earth theory, there must be something to the south too, which they called “Antarctos” meaning the opposite of the bear, hence the name Antarctica.
The Founding Fathers
The first human to step on Antarctica was around the 1890s. However, hundreds of years ago, Antarctica was spotted on many maps used by sailors and explorers. Dated back in 1530, a French explorer made a map where he drew Antarctica and named it “Terra Australis Incognita” which meant an unknown land of the south.
1. James Cook
Two centuries later, in 1773, a British Naval officer James Cook became the Armstrong of the earth and entered the south of the Antarctic circle. However, he did not actually step on the land of Antarctica and turned around 130 kilometers before he reached the land. Coming home probably frozen, James stated, “I can be bold enough to say that no man will ever venture further than I have and the lands to the south will never be explored.” Providing justice to our human nature, this statement was proved wrong around 50 years later by a lost Britisher.
2. John Davis
A British-born American sailor and seal hunter ranks the list of people pretending to be the first to step on Antarctica. Davis claimed that his ship “Cecilia” lost its track and brought them to the shores of Antarctica on 7 February 1821. However, without any proof, this remains a mystery. The first undisputed landing on Antarctica did not occur for another 74 years.
3. Carsten Borchgrevink
A group of Norwegian sailors steered their ship, also called “Antarctic” towards the making of history by being the first men to step into the mystery of Antarctica in 1895. Carsten Borchgrevink is the name that comes to a float in this exploration. He jumped off the boat to be the first to step on the land while the others watched in amazement. Later on, in 1901 Borchgrevink also published a book named “First on the Antarctic Continent.” Where he shared his experiences about watching the penguins with utmost interest and their departure to New Zealand for the winter.
The Heroic Era of Antarctica
Many explorations lead by different countries happened in the first twenty years of 1900. In this golden age of new scientific discoveries, the world found new things about Antarctica. Discoveries like plantations were possible on the Antarctic land as we found samples of mosses. And many other inventions caught the eye of the rest of the world, which led to the Colonial era of Antarctica.
The Raging White blood
Between 1908 to 1942, seven different countries claimed their sovereignty over this large white blanket. These countries include Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, New Zealand, Norway, and the United Kingdom. During the second world war, Germans started their Antarctic Exploration around 1939. They took pictures up from the sky and dropped metal Nazi Swastikas to claim the land in Antarctica.
Permanent Research Centres or Geopolitics?
After the second world war, every nation joined the race to get their piece of the pie from Antarctica. Therefore, these countries started to set up their permanent research stations one after the other to claim their land in Antarctica by permanently living under the mask of research and exploration. They first started by acquiring small islands near Antarctica, which are mentioned below in the chart.
|Part of Antarctica
|Heard and McQuaric island
|Kerguelen and Crozet island
|Mawson station, the mainland of Antarctica
|Filchner Ronne ice shelf, the mainland of Antarctica
During this period, the territorial bases of many countries started overlapping. This created a lot of tension within them. The above diagram shows this overlap of the territories.
Other Mystery of Antarctica
- Ice with the voice —The rough surface of the ice lets out an almost continuous ‘hum’ of low tones as the wind passes across. Although human ears cannot hear these vibrations, the accelerated recordings reveal the mysterious sounds of the ice.
- Role of the hole —An enormous gaping hole, spanning thousands of square miles, opening in the middle of this giant icy landmass. No one knows where and how this giant hole appeared and remains a mystery to date.
- The broken compass —Around the planet’s spherical shape, when one gets closer to the top or bottom, the earth’s magnetic field moves much straighter. This means that compasses won’t be reliable near the poles. However, some conspiracy theorists claim that the broken compass is to deliberately stop people from visiting certain parts of the continent.
- The blood trail —‘Blood Falls’ is an apt name for the gruesome red liquid that oozes out the side of Taylor Glacier. This was first discovered by geologist Griffith Taylor over 100 years ago. Taylor himself concluded that it was down to red algae. However, we now know it is an iron-rich salty liquid that forms beneath the glacier.
Some of these mysteries have proven false over time and some are yet to be proven. But the truth is, this fictitious place never stops surprising us with its unexplainable phenomena and extreme climate. Heaven or hell, Antarctica is beautiful in its way, where the time feels slow when the sun is rising and faster than normal in the night storms. And there’s always the possibility of the antagonist of your novel crashing the mystery of Antarctica, falling in love, starting a civilization, and restoring faith in humanity. As cliché as it gets, it does not stop being any beautiful and cold with or without a heart. We hope this blog, Unsolved Mystery of Antarctica answers most of your questions and made you fall in love with this place.