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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 28, No. 9. 1965.



In Antarctica there is an important factor which governs the lives of all the men who live there. It is called the Antarctic factor, and it states that if anything can go wrong it will. Some of the effects of the Antarctic factor were introduced to the delegates of the Science Student Conference by Professor A. T. Wilson during his lecture on Antarctic Research. The accompanying slides emphasised Professor Wilson's comments on the bleakness of the terrain in Antarctica, and showed up the differences between the Polar plateau which is ice, 9000ft thick, and the dry valleys which contain relatively little ice.

Professor Wilson described the research he was engaged in during his two trips to Antarctica. The university teams he was with were investigating the past climatic conditions of the continent from data taken from the many lakes in the dry valleys. They also spent some time working on the effects of the Aurora. One of the more dangerous parts of the work was measuring the temperatures of the bottoms of glaciers. This was done by drilling down through the sheer sides of the glaciers and there was always the risk of a chunk of ice breaking off the glacier and falling on them.

Many phenomena which occurred in the outside world could be studied in Antarctica in isolated conditions, without interference from conflicting factors, said Professor Wilson. Antarctica is so simple that it is a perfect natural laboratory for scientists.