Mt. Vernon Register-News

Community News Network

December 13, 2012

Team probes for life in lake beneath 2 miles of Antarctic ice

LONDON — British scientists were to start drilling Wednesday in Antarctica in their quest to discover whether life exists in a lake that's been isolated for hundreds of thousands of years 3 kilometers (2 miles) below the ice.

The researchers will use a drill that pumps hot water at high pressure to bore through the ice. After firing the boiler's burners yesterday, they'll begin test drills before drilling down to the lake by Sunday, said Chris Hill, program manager at the British Antarctic Survey for the project at Lake Ellsworth, near the center of the West Antarctic ice sheet.

"Since that boiler fired up, the mood's been pretty good," Hill said Tuesday in a satellite phone interview from the drilling site. "We have to wait on this like expectant fathers."

The 8-million-pound ($13 million) plan is the culmination of 16 years of planning. Researchers aim to recover water and sediment samples from the lake to determine whether life exists there and shed clues on the past climate of Antarctica.

"The most likely organisms to be found will be bacterial — they're everywhere," David Pearce, a microbiologist at the program said in an interview in October, shortly before heading to the southern continent to begin preparations. "If there's nothing there, that will tell us the limits for the existence of life on Earth."

After testing the drill works, the researchers plan to bore down 300 meters where they'll create a water-filled cavity to help balance the water pressure between the lake and the borehole. Then, they plan to make a separate hole from the top, through the cavity and down to the lake.

Once the drill is removed, Hill said "the clock starts ticking" and the researchers have just 24 to 30 hours to recover samples before the hole refreezes and becomes too narrow to safely lower instruments.

Text Only
Community News Network
  • Raw oysters spike U.S. rise in bacterial infections, CDC reports

    Raw oysters, so good with hot sauce, increasingly can carry something even more unsettling to the stomach: A bacteria linked to vomiting, diarrhea and pain.

    April 17, 2014

  • Low blood-sugar levels make for grousing spouses

    Husbands and wives reported being most unhappy with their spouses when their blood-sugar levels were lowest, usually at night, according to research released this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Missing a meal, dieting or just being hungry may be the reason, researchers said.

    April 16, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 12.51.22 PM.png VIDEO: Toddler climbs into vending machine

    A child is safe after climbing into and getting stuck inside a claw crane machine at a Lincoln, Neb., bowling alley Monday.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • portraitoflotte.jpg VIDEO: From infant to teen in four minutes

    Dutch filmmaker Frans Hofmeester’s time lapse video of his daughter, Lotte — created by filming her every week from her birth until she turned 14 — has become a viral sensation.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Victimized by the 'marriage penalty'

    In a few short months, I'll pass the milestone that every little girl dreams of: the day she swears - before family and God, in sickness and in health, all in the name of love - that she's willing to pay a much higher tax rate.

    April 15, 2014

  • treadmill-very-fast.jpg Tax deduction for a gym membership?

    April marks another tax season when millions of Americans will deduct expenses related to home ownership, children and education from their annual tax bill. These deductions exist because of their perceived value to society; they encourage behaviors that keep the wheels of the economy turning. So why shouldn't the tax code be revised to reward preventive health?

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Google acquires drone maker Titan Aerospace to spread Internet

    Google is adding drones to its fleets of robots and driverless cars.
    The Internet search company said it acquired Titan Aerospace, the maker of high-altitude, solar-powered satellites that provides customer access to data services around the world. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

    April 14, 2014

  • E-Cigarettes target youth with festivals, lawmakers say

    The findings, in a survey released Monday by members of Congress, should prod U.S. regulators to curb the industry, the lawmakers said. While e-cigarettes currently are unregulated, the Food and Drug Administration is working on a plan that would extend its tobacco oversight to the products.

    April 14, 2014

  • Why Facebook is getting into the banking game

    Who would want to use Facebook as a bank? That's the question that immediately arises from news that the social network intends to get into the electronic money business.

    April 14, 2014

  • Stepping forward: The real Colbert

    Letterman changed the late-night TV game between his run on NBC's "Late Night" and starting the "Late Show" franchise in 1993. And while it's tough to replace a pop-culture icon, Colbert, in terms of pedigree and sense of humor, makes the most sense.

    April 11, 2014

Twitter Updates
Facebook
Stocks