Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Time Zones at the Pole

Wednesday 7 December 2011

Tourists!  When we walked out to the visitor tent this morning, we were surprised to find 3 Toyota Hiluxes.  Very cool trucks these things are.  Not sure where they came from, but no doubt a long way!  A DC-3 landed today with a bunch of tourists.  We met a British woman who had been dropped off with her team 97 nautical miles away, where Shackleton turned around, deciding the pole was not worth the his and his companions lives.  The woman and her team were skiing these last miles, but the woman had to be evacuated due to a frostbitten nose and altitude illness.  She said her team was coming in a few days from now.  I asked her when...and it went something like this:
Her: Thursday
Me: Oh, tomorrow!
Her: No...I think they'll be in on Thursday...
Me: ...Isn't today Wednesday? (My mind about to be blown as I realize what's happening)
Her: It's Tuesday.
Me:  It's 11:30 am on Wednesday for us.  What time is it for you?
Her: Tuesday evening between 6 and 7.
Me: That's crazy!!

She came through Punta Arenas, Chile and has not crossed the international date line, whereas, I am on New Zealand time and have crossed the international date line.  Time zones converge at the south pole to an crossing point at the geographic south pole, where technically there is NO time zone.  So here we were standing at the same place, at two different times of day, on two different days at the same time! 

At the pole, one day lasts six months.  Three months of morning as the sun spirals up, three months of afternoon where the sun spirals down, then six months of darkness.  So technically, it's morning as the Solstice has not been reached, and therefore the sun has not reached its peak.  So right now, we're about 14 days from the solstice, each day counts for 4 minutes, so that would be 54 minutes before noon.  So we're at 11:06am south pole time.  Tomorrow will be 11:10am.  Boggles the mind!

We finished our work and I spent the evening playing chess and helping some friends make a zombie movie (they needed zombie extras) that will be shown at the South Pole and Mcmurdo international film festivals later this season (spoiler alert: science saves the day). 

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