Myth Of The 20th Century – Episode 13: Antarctica, The Last Frontier

Welcome to the Myth of the 20th Century. The podcast airs on Fridays.

— Brought to you by —

Adam Smith, Hank Oslo, and Mark Brown


Antarctica – a land of extremes. It is the coldest, driest – and loneliest continent on Earth. Bathed in darkness for 6 months of the year, and exposed to intense radiation, wind, and snow for much of the rest – Antarctica – even after its first visit in 1821 – has never attracted more than several thousand people a year to stay. It is thus a testament to the will of the few that do journey to the bottom of the world – to explore, to conduct research, or to simply put oneself to the test in one of the world’s harshest environments. Today we will pay tribute to those that did not ask why, but asked – why not?


1821 – American sealer John Davis first to set foot on the Antarctic Peninsula
1901 – British captain Scott leads first Antarctic expedition
1910 – Norwegian Roald Amundsen first to reach the South Pole
1911 – Captain Scott and his party die after freezing on their return trip of being the second group to visit the pole
1912 – Australian Douglas Mawson is the first to use radios in Antarctica, leads a tragic expedition where he is the sole survivor
1914-16 – Sir Ernest Shackleton and his crew of 27 men become stranded and all survive after getting frozen into the ice and losing their ship
1959 – 12 countries sign the Antarctic Treaty in Washington DC
1985 – thinning of the ozone layer over the South Pole first reported
2008 – NASA reports its satellite data indicate more than 2 million tons of land ice in Alaska, Antarctica and Greenland since 2003 among the latest signs indicating global warming


– The Home of the Blizzard, Mawson (1998)
– The White, Caesar (2001)
– Antarctica – A Frozen History (2002) –
– Antarctica Timeline:

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  1. SecretForumLurker April 7, 2017 at 11:01 am

    Have any of you read “Worst Journey In The World”? It covers the failed Scott Expedition by one of its only survivors.

  2. Regarding the bit about the Scandinavian countries (ca. 35 minutes in), Norway was never all that developed, having spend most of the last 500 years changing hands between Denmark and Sweden. The latter two both had significant navies up until around the time of the Napoleanic wars. Shortly before Napoleon, Sweden’s fleet was decimated in a battle with Denmark, from which it never recovered, while Denmark had its fleet destroyed and partially captured by the English in fear of it being used by Napoleon.
    I’m writing this from memory, but this is about the gist of it.

  3. Love the podcast. Any chance you guys could do a Vietnam War episode at some point?

    1. We could and should. Thanks for listening.

  4. Great podcast! Could you guys also consider doing an India episode, British Raj, Gandhi’s betrayal, Pakistan and now Modi and all that jazz?

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