Technological advances in the world of communications have progressed by leaps and bounds in the last 30 years. No place illustrates the profound benefit of this progression more than Palmer Station. Every Wednesday evening one of the Palmer Station residents gives a science lecture to their fellow Palmerians. The first lecture I attended was Maggie's slide show illustrating the changes at Palmer Station since her first expeditions in the 1970's. Maggie spoke on the station's reliance of the ham radio, as this ancient device was the only means to communicate with loved ones back home. Esssentially, the station ham operator would find a ham operatoer in the U.S. willing to place a collect call for Maggie to Chuck and act as a middle man for the conversation, sometimes having to repeat what the other person was trying to convey if the phone patch was not working properly, often due to sun spots, or interference from other radio conversations.
Now days to call home from Palmer Station, we simply use a calling card to dial out on one of many internet protocol phones that are to linked to Denver, CO, Raytheon Polar Services headquarters. Although there are only three phone lines from Palmer Station, voice communications to the United States is ridiculously easy these days. Not to mention the marvel of email, letters arriving to loved ones minutes after they are written, easy as pie. And of course there are the blogs.
Updates of our Antarctic adventure through this website have caught the attention of many different people in many different organizations, especially in Alabama, once again the information superhighway working hard. As this website was getting off the ground, one of the goals was to provide a means for inquisitive students, teachers, professors, and average web surfers to learn a bit about a continent that is often overlooked and more importantly, realize that field and laboratory research to further understand this pristine continent is at the heart of this adventure. Thus far, we could not be happier with the comments, questions, and general interests influenced by this site.
Thanks to further developments in communication technology, Alabama Public Television (APT), and the University of Alabama System Offices have requested a live interactive video broadcast on May 2. This will be broadcast from Antarctica and relayed into several dozens of classrooms around Alabama. Students and teachers will have the opportunity to communicate with us here at Palmer Station in real time. Without the efforts of Palmer Station's information technology team, Curt Smith and Sara Russell, this broadcast would not be possible.
This interactive video will be geared toward high school and middle school students who have been keeping up with our progress through this website. Alabama Public Television has also put together a website "scavenger hunt" which asks readers questions and highlights some important points of our research and operations. This is a useful tool for students and teachers in preparation for the live video interviews. Lots more information including the scavenger hunt can be found at http://www.aptv.org/aptplus/antarctica.asp
During the broadcast we will briefly introduce ourselves and describe our general research interests. Next, we will talk about one of the more exciting activities that we partake in down here, diving. After we give a little show and tell of our field collections, the students will have a substantial time slot to ask questions. This is a live broadcast and we are not provided all of the questions in advance so it could get pretty interesting and no doubt a bit humorous. Not all the schools that expressed interest in our adventure have the technology to transmit live video feeds into their classrooms. Therefore the video will be available to those schools on DVD through Alabama Public Television. It will also be available on the APT website listed above beginning on May 3.
So apparently in the short time span of Palmer Station's existence, communication to and from the U.S. has gone from HAM radio patches, to phone cards, email, website blogs, and now live feed video conferences where not only can be heard, but seen too. No wonder the station manger here keeps asking the graduate students to design him a flying car.