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Final message from the ice

13 Responses to “Final message from the ice”

  1. Charles Howie Says:

    Dear Martin and all the team.
    I’m really sorry to hear what has happened, but my disappointment is nothing compared to yours. I had been hoping that ‘no news was good news’, as you hadn’t posted for several days, but not to be
    I’m sure you’ve done everything possible, but now may be the right time to withdraw, analyse events, reflect and work out what modifications to make to your strategy.

    You have made an immense step forward to get all the kit, planning and expertise in place. It won’t be lost, carefully recorded failure gives you the stuff you need to go forward.

    I had wanted to ask if you expected to find organisms in the lake using a different hydrogen acceptor, not oxygen?

    Work safely, travel safely and well done. Fantastic achievement.

    Very best wishes


  2. FC Fee Says:

    Much as I admire your daring and ambition to push frontiers of scientific discovery, I wonder can we not put off such marginally useful projects in human terms, and divert the funding to critical needs in research that could impact millions around the globe, such as understanding brain functioning, what causes mental disorders, and developing biomarkers to treat such gravely disabling conditions for millions?

  3. Mr Average Scientist Says:

    What a shame – that’s 8 million quid wasted that would have funded over 10 standard grants each delivering useful science.

  4. Annette Says:

    Dear Martin and the Team,
    I’m so sorry to hear that you have had to abondon this year’s attempt to reach the lake :( I’m looking forward to following your progress next year. Thank you for making this so interesting :)


  5. Gary Says:

    Guys, while I was briefly scanning updates of your activities over the past few months (via news reports mostly), I find myself becoming very interested in your progress and your eventual findings.
    I don’t believe that most people understand the scope of what it is you’re doing, nor the monumental difficulty in accomplishing such a feat. The successful completion of this experiment will fundamentally change our knowledge and understanding of the earth, as well as the scientific methods we use in the future, both on earth and in space exploration.

    I can’t wait to hear what your continuing investigations reveal next season.

    Truly you are all at the very forefront of scientific exploration. Robert Peary, David Livingstone and Neil Armstrong could have no better company.

  6. Jane Bowland Says:

    To all the team at Lake Ellsworth, my children and I have been really inspired by this project and have followed the ups and downs of the last few months avidly. We have gained a huge amount from your endeavours and will look forward to following news as you regroup and make plans for next year.
    FC Fee – who knows what the discoveries at Lake Ellsworth may lead to by way of spin offs, from developing technology to biological discovery.
    Best wishes for the analysis, reflection regrouping and planning for 1013/14 season. Jane, Grace, Victoria and Christopher

  7. Karin Says:

    Totally gutted for you guys. My 4 children and I have been following you for the last few months. Thanks for the amazing pictures and your blogs . You brought something to my world that has totally fascinated me . So in many ways as frustrating as this has been for all of you , do not underestimate how much impact you have had . I hope you secure your funding for next year and look forward to watching this space as they say.

  8. C. Edmonston Says:

    Heard on the news that the attempt to drill down to this unfrozen lake beneath about 2 miles of ice failed and it has prompted me ask, seeing as this has cost some 8 million pounds. How was the lake discovered? Can x ray penetrate that much ice? How is a lake not frozen beneath so much ice? If fuel shortage is the reason for cancelling the project, surely £8m could buy more? How come the fuel shortage was not noticed beforehand? One would not go on a car journey with not enough fuel. Yes, lots of questions and hoping for lots of answers.

  9. Cesare Brizio Says:

    If I knew English well enough, I would have written exactly what Gary said a few posts above.
    I would gladly contribute a small amount of money to your next effort!
    With hindisght, it seems obvious that the problem of pressure compensation cannot be solved by the cavity (unless it was lined to prevent leaks – and this may prove unpractical). A naive suggestion would be to lower a second tube along with the drill and then with the probe, and use this second tube to regulate the water height in the borehole. The drawback is that you would have to deploy two separate, independent reels – but the second tube would be thinner and simpler…

  10. Mike Harbour Says:

    Thank you so much for the work you have done and the effort you have spent in your project designed to enlighten and help us all. Having a daily blog with pictures and video has been amazing in terms of sharing with us the trials and tribulations, the successes and frustrations, the drama that unfolds and the patience needed when doing new, real, ambitious and potentially extremely useful research. Real research is hard, and beset by problems that need to be overcome by real solutions. It’s not like in Hollywood films.

    In common with other readers of this blog, I have young family who have been interested and inspired by the spirit of discovery shown in this project. About a year ago, from having read an article in a science magazine, I told my stepson, who is 12 years old, that ‘people are going to drill down through ice to Antarctica, to find out things about the frozen continent down there, what it was like, and if anything might still be alive down there’. In the last year he must have asked me half-a-dozen times, ‘Has there been any news from those men drilling in Antarctica yet?. He will be disappointed too when I tell him what’s happened, but he understands that ‘things-worth-doing’ in the real world take determination, patience and practice.

    I disagree with the sentiment expressed by FC Fee (post #2), and find it short-sighted [if not indeed just a little tactless given the obvious disappointment that you, the team in Antartica, must be feeling]. Many scientists and research councils work hard to ensure that scientific and medical research is balanced so that, at any one time we have the right proportion of high-risk-but-high-gain and low-risk-but-low gain projects. The truth is, we already have scores of researchers working on the specific problems mentioned, and the sentiment expressed and pressure exerted should not be directed to the team in Antarctica.
    I’d like to try to suggest one of many possible answers to FC Fee’s question: Medicine is in dire need of new types of antibiotics – loads of nasty bugs have developed resistance to the ones we currently have to treat infections. Imagine down in the Ellsworth lake there is life, but there’s very little by way of nutrient to grow. Different microbial strains will therefore be competing for access to limited resources. Imagine there’s a dominant strain that manages to suppress the competition (keeping them in check) by secreting a molecule that is poisonous to the other strains. There’s mankind’s next antibiotic that will serve all humanity for the next century. High-risk, but seriously high-gain.

    Thanks to you all once again. Wishing you a safe return to the UK. Hope you can get a rest, work out a solution to this year’s problem, and persuade the men and women in warm offices to let you get back out on the ice. This project has been the highlight of 2012 for me.


  11. Ged Welch Says:

    Hi Martin. Sorry to hear the news. Good luck with the regrouping back in th UK.
    All the best. Ged

  12. Charles Howie Says:

    Hi again.
    To follow up and back up Mike Harbour’s comment. A century ago when the electron was a ‘new thing’, who could see what it’s use might be? Much of our digital age now functions around our understanding of its properties.

    With climate change upon us already we owe it to the next generations to give them the best inventory of what we have on earth, we don’t know which organisms will be key to solving future problems.

    To Mike Siegert and the team. I hope after you’ve recovered you will give some public presentations on what you were doing, how you did it and what you’ve learned from it.
    That would be really interesting

    Best wishes for the recovery phase.


  13. Robert McDowell Says:

    Thought I would check in on your website,to see how you were all doing leading up to New Years Eve.
    Your dissapointment must be immense,but as you say you all live to fight another day. I wish you all a happy new year, & hope that 2013 brings another opportunity to prove your hypothesis. Do not be disheartened by the minority of negative responses, the majority support, & are saddened by the dissapointment felt by you all.
    Happy New Year to all.