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Russian Scientists Break the Ice in Antarctica

By Chris Capps    2/5/12

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Vostok_1.jpg
There's certainly plenty of room for conspiracy theories and speculation surrounding what a team of Russian scientists are doing in Vostok, Antarctica.  As they continue their expedition drilling deep beneath the ice in an effort to reach the completely separate alien terrain beneath, there are rumors that they have also discovered a few artifacts left over from the third Reich, and speculation that there could be a monster dwelling deep beneath the ice.  Add to that a rumor that contact with the team had been lost and you have Vostok.  As they break the ice, many can't help but wonder: what will they find on the other side?

When the scientists say they're drilling deep into the arctic sheet, they don't just mean a few meters.  The drilling expedition will be taking samples some 2.5 miles down beneath the ice in waters that have been completely preserved for 15 million years.  Whatever is down underneath the ice, that has been surviving and evolving has not seen our world for a very long time.  Whatever organisms are alive down there, if indeed there are any, may be like looking at an alien life form that has developed completely outside of our own biosphere - in every way independent.  Rather than competing with the sorts of organisms we know of, these creatures would be adapted to a far different environment.

The scientists, piercing the ice to reach this alien world beneath the ice, have been the subject of much speculation, however.  RIA Novosti, the state run Russian news agency, suggests the possibility that at the end of the second World War, the third Reich could have made a final attempt to flee allied capture by splitting up into several different splinter cells, including one which may have eventually ended up in Antarctica.  The region stated to be their destination is by no small coincidence the same one where the massive drilling operation has been set up.

But all eyes were once again turning to the expedition when a news report suggested the oil expedition may have disappeared, as the agency involved received an email from Montana State University's Dr. John Priscu - an email whose existence has now been called into question by subsequent interview with Priscu.  And as the speculation swirls around this tiny and remote but ambitious project, an entirely preserved world of freezing water and possibly more waits.  The samples gathered from this unique location will provide scientists a look into what life might look like on a completely alien world.

And with it, will they also find organisms that defy all the known laws of physics?  Will they discover beings which can survive in conditions too harsh for any known creature to survive in?  And if they do, will it once again expand our definition of what life might be like on other worlds and which worlds might sustain life?

It's difficult to imagine how monumental their discovery might be.  After years of digging, how does one finally find the words to express that they have discovered something that will change everything we know about the world?    While it may seem a daunting task, they shouldn't have any trouble.  After all, they are now the world's most experienced ice breakers.

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