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Experience Antarctica at the McWane Center

Beginning November 10, 2001, patrons of Birmingham's McWane Center will be able to see the UAB Antarctic Experience, a display of 45 photographs from Antarctica taken by James McClintock, Charles Amsler and other team members, and renowned nature photographer Norbert Wu.

In addition to the photographs and a display about UAB's research, patrons will see gear that the team will use in Antarctica, the protective clothing necessary to work in Antarctica, and plants the researchers will encounter under the Antarctic sea. The UAB Antarctic Experience also offers the opportunity to explore life in polar environments through hands-on scientific experiments in the X-Philes Laboratory exhibit, sponsored by the UAB Center for Community Outreach and Development.

Visit the mezzanine area on the second floor of the McWane Center, just beyond the IMAX theater exit, to see the photographs and:

  • Scott Tent — These large tents, originally designed by Sir Robert Falcon Scott for the British Antarctic Expedition in 1910-1913, have been used by polar explorers ever since, including UAB biologists.

  • Peninsular Extreme Cold Weather Gear — This is clothing used by UAB biologists when at Palmer Station. Clothes worn at Palmer Station and other locations along the Antarctic Peninsula are designed for cold, wet conditions.

  • Continental Extreme Cold Weather Gear — This is clothing used by UAB biologists when at McMurdo Station. Clothes worn at McMurdo and other continental locations are designed for very cold, dry conditions.

  • Dry Suit — These scuba diving suits are used to keep Antarctic research divers warm and dry. They are worn by UAB marine biologists at both McMurdo and Palmer Stations. Water temperatures at McMurdo are typically stable at -1.8 degrees C (29 degrees F). At Palmer Station, they vary from -1.8 to +2 degrees C (29 to 35 degrees F).

  • Pressed Macroalgae (Seaweeds) — These are marine plants that are abundant in shallow waters along the Antarctic Peninsula.

  • Antarctic Patches — These colorful souvenir patches are produced by many nations' Antarctic programs and expeditions.

  • Antarctic Service Awards — These medals and certificates are given to scientists, military personnel and others who work in Antarctica.

  • Zodiac Boat — These are inflatable boats that are used by UAB biologists for scuba diving and other field operations at Palmer Station off the Antarctic Peninsula.

The X-Philes Laboratory exhibit, located within the Collections Lab at the McWane Center, is named after extremophiles — microorganisms that thrive in environments that are too extreme or toxic for most forms of life. The X-Philes Lab was originally designed to give high school students the chance to perform hands-on scientific experiments. The program has recently been expanded to enable people of all ages and levels of experience to participate.

Without leaving the McWane Center, participants can journey to Antarctica, chip off a block of ice from a small “iceberg” and search for bacteria that thrive in extremely cold environments. Learn how bacteria, isolated from the polar ice cap of Antarctica, have adapted to survive such harsh conditions and use the latest technology to see them under a microscope. Sessions are open to the general public from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m. on select Saturdays from December 1 through March 16. For more information or to make reservations, call (205) 714-8387.

School groups are also invited to participate in the X-Philes Lab. Experiments have been specifically designed for grades 6-8 and 9-12. Students will compare and contrast cold-weather Pseudomonas bacteria (also known as psychrophiles) with Eshcerichia Coli (commonly known as mesophiles), which thrives in warm temperatures. They will gain first-hand experience with sophisticated lab equipment such as micropipettes, spectrophotometers, a phase contrast microscope and a fluorescence microscope. X-Philes programs for school groups are available Monday through Friday from November 26 through March 22, and include the IMAX movie. High school and middle school teachers should call Terri Nelson at (205) 934-6033 to make reservations.

The exhibit and laboratory are presented by the UAB School of Natural Science and Mathematics, the UAB Center for Community Outreach and Development (CORD), and the Office of the Provost.

Maggie's Journal: To Everything Its Place
Maggie's Journal: Wrapping Up at Palmer Station
Maggie's Journal: Happy Belated New Year
Jim's Journal: Antarctic Science Snowballs
Maggie's Journal: Christmas in Antarctica
Chuck's Journal: Home Alone
Student Journal: A Different Christmas

Expedition Journals and Articles

Bulletin Board for Questions and Answers

UAB Department of Biology

UAB Home

NSF Office of Polar Programs

McWane Center

"Our ship cut through the twelve-foot waves and fifty-knot winds of the midnight Drake Passage, bucking hard, first to the right and then the left, coupling these sideways motions with wave-generated surges of movement up and down."
- James McClintock, Ph.D.

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