"Welcome to the birthplace of MIRCE Science - a system of equations, rules and methods that explain and predict measurable performance of functionable systems."                              Dr Jezdimir Knezevic, Founder and President

Man and Machine on Ice

by Dr Charles Swithinbank

To pursue their chosen fields of study, polar scientists of the golden age have had to make maps; to navigate by sun, stars, or GPS; to drive dog-sledges and overhaul engines; to live in harmony with people from differing backgrounds-often under primitive conditions for years on end; to cook, to sew, to fabricate what they did not bring with them; and after it all to analyse and publish their findings in refereed journals or specialised monographs. Then-and only then-may they given a chance to go again. But first they must compete with scientists who argue that dozens of researchers could be employed in the UK for the cost of one in the Antarctic. It costs more than one million dollars to keep one person at the South Pole for a year, so Antarctic science has been described as the poor man's space programme. Dr Swithinbank's first Antarctic expedition was from 1949 to 1952 and led to his D.Phil. degree, probably Oxford's first in glaciology-the study office in all its forms.
Few people in history have travelled more widely in the Arctic and Antarctic. He has worked with British, Canadian, Norwegian, Russian, Swedish, and US polar expeditions. He spent four years studying pack ice in Canadian waters, visited the North Pole in a nuclear submarine and later in a nuclear-powered icebreaker, passed twice through the Northwest Passage, and several times visited the South Pole. Formerly Chief Glaciologist and later head of the Earth Sciences Division of the British Antarctic Survey, in retirement he is a consultant and Senior Associate of the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge. He holds an Honorary Doctorate from Milwaukee School of Engineering and has received medals from three reigning monarchs. The Royal Geographical Society awarded him their Patron's Medal (the medal worn by Nansen, Peary, Amundsen, Scott and Byrd). More geographical features in Antarctica have been named after him than after any other living explorer. A mountain range, two glaciers and three other place names are listed in the US Board on Geographic Names Geographic Names of the Antarctic. Charles is probably the only person to have worked in the Antarctic in each of the last seven decades.

He has travelled widely in icebreakers, on land with skis, dog sledges and snowmobiles, and spent more than 500 flying hours in the co-pilot's seat of aircraft on various polar expeditions. Latterly he has pioneered the use and interpretation of spacecraft observations of ice sheets; the US Geological Survey and the US Army have published his work in this area. Officially retired since 1986, Dr Swithinbank has been continuously involved with the Polar Regions as consultant ever since. In 1989 he spent six weeks based on the US Amundsen-Scott station at the South Pole, working for the US Army Corps of Engineers to develop new ways to land wheeled aircraft on the ice sheet. His research on naturally occurring bare ice suitable for landing transport aircraft has led to the development of two intercontinental air routes. He personally took part in all the proving flights, latterly from Cape Town to Queen Maud Land. NASA recently sought his advice on living and travelling on Mars. Swithinbank is the author of more than 100 scientific reports and four autobiographical works.