(Another post courtesy of LP):
One of the scariest movies I’ve ever seen is John Carpenter’s The Thing. The 1982 film is about an extraterrestrial that is dug up in the Antarctic and unfrozen and that begins to imitate and consume surrounding lifeforms. In case you haven’t seen it – SPOILER ALERT – the team of Antarctic researchers start to turn on each other as it becomes impossible to tell who is still human and who has been turned into a monstrous thing masked by human form.
So imagine my reaction when I saw this article in the Washington Post yesterday. We know how this story ends:
Russians drill into previously untouched Lake Vostok below Antarctic glacier
“After drilling for two decades through more than two miles of Antarctic ice, Russian scientists are on the verge of entering a vast, dark lake that hasn’t been touched by light for more than 20 million years. Scientists are enormously excited about what life-forms might be found there.
It has taken the Russians more than 20 years to drill into Lake Vostok, operating in some of the most brutal weather conditions in the world. Their reported accomplishment comes just as the Antarctic summer ends at Vostok and the cold becomes so great that machinery can’t be operated and airplanes can’t come in or go out.
The Russian effort has created scientific excitement about potentially learning some of the long-held secrets of the largest subglacial lake in Antarctica, a body of water that wasn’t discovered until the mid-1990s and is the world’s third-largest lake by volume.
Many scientists see Vostok as not only a last frontier on Earth but also a potential gold mine for learning about possible conditions on Jupiter’s moon Europa or Saturn’s moon Encedadus. Each is covered by a thick shell of ice with liquid water below, warmed by either the inner heat of the moon or by tidal forces.
The Russians’ plan for this year’s Lake Vostok expedition has been to use a thermal drill on the last 30 feet of ice, pierce the lake and draw some of the water a short way up the borehole. The water will then freeze and be extracted late this year.”