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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Nuclear Ninety North: Fourmilab Unattended 2008-07-19 to 2008-08-06

I'll be away from Fourmilab and deprived of Internet connectivity for reasons of latitude from July 19th through August 6th, 2008. I'm going to the North Pole—no, really! Fourmilab's third “Holiday in Hell” solar eclipse expedition (the first two: Iran 1999, Zambia 2001) will set sail (or, more precisely, split nuclei) as we depart Murmansk for the North Pole, then turn around and head south to observe (cloud cover permitting) the total Solar Eclipse of August 1st, 2008 from Novaya Zemlya, where on October 30th, 1961 Tsar Bomba was exploded with a yield of 50 megatons of TNT.


This may be our most outrageous eclipse expedition yet, but hey, it's carbon neutral! We'll head north on board the Russian icebreaker Fifty Years Since Victory (50 лет Победы). Powered by two nuclear reactors, it consumes no icky petroleum fuel, and while perhaps occasionally running over a polar bear who didn't hear us coming, at least it doesn't shrink their ice floes by belching carbon dioxide into the arctic atmosphere.

Here's the itinerary of the expedition.

If this expedition ends well (one always worries about maiden voyages into the ice!), I'll post pictures, including eclipse photos if the cloud gods smile upon us, when I get back. I'm looking forward to waving at the Web Cam.

Obviously, I'll not respond to E-mail inquiries until I get back. Should Fourmilab go down while I'm away (despite fanatic redundancy to avoid that happening), so it goes—I won't be aware of it nor able to intervene until I return.

Posted at July 17, 2008 00:17