The Antarctic Race: An Analysis of Amundsen and Scott’s Use of Technology in their Expeditions to the South Pole.
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Roald Amundsen was the first man to reach both poles – a very significant achievement considering the technology and knowledge available at the time. There are many aspects that both parties had to consider in preparing for the journey – an analysis of the weather conditions, land, soil type, flora and faunae, and route to be taken, as well as the logistics involved in packing necessary clothing, food, scientific and navigational equipment, and what to pack this on to – since the type of transportation utilized is a very crucial decision in exploration. Through an examination of his two expeditions to the south and north poles – in comparison to the unsuccessful attempt by Scott – we can identify the reasons behind Amundsen’s success, namely his ability to utilize the technologies most capably suited to his task. Although both explorers utilized technology to a high degree, it was Amundsen that, through his understanding of the climate and conditions, made the right choices in his selection of tools and techniques for the trip. It is specifically decisions made in three key categories that allowed for the successful attempt: the transportation technology (and its effectiveness in arctic climates), the technologies employed to sustain life (including nourishment, shelter and clothing), and lastly, the technologies of navigation that made it possible to reach the pole itself.
Through Scott’s documentation of the voyage and preparations, it is known that he went to great lengths to construct and procure a myriad of technologies and enhancements for the expedition (Langner, 2). His primary focus, was the ship itself: it was constructed with both sail and steam power in order to better navigate the narrow, treacherous stretches of w...
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...rasted significantly to Scott’s unwise and at times irrational decisions. Furthermore, contrasts are evident in the two explorers’ food and life sustaining technologies. Amundsen once again demonstrated a superior choice in technologies, which were more appropriate for the environment, at times opting for low-tech, Inuit techniques and technologies. Scott, in his faith in English solutions, was considerably less able to cope with the effects of the climate. Conclusively, Amundsen demonstrated that he had planned the journey remarkably well, calculating for all of the minute details of a first successful expedition to the South Pole.
Amundsen, Roald. The South Pole. New York: New York University Press, 2001.
Langner, Rainier. Scott and Amundsen. City: Haus Publishers Ltd, 2007.
Scott, Robert. Scott’s Last Expedition. City: Kessinger Publishing, 2004.