120px|At the South Pole, December 1911
The first expedition to reach the geographic South Pole was led by
the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen. His party arrived at the pole on
14 December 1911, five weeks ahead of a British team led by Robert
Falcon Scott. Amundsen and his companions returned safely to their
base, and later learned that Scott and his four companions had died on
their return journey. Amundsen's initial plans had been to explore the
Arctic, but he decided to go south on hearing that both Frederick Cook
and Robert E. Peary were claiming to have reached the North Pole.
However, he kept this revised objective secret until after his
departure. The expedition arrived in Antarctica in January 1911 and
after months of preparation the five-man polar party set out in October
1911. The route from their base at the Bay of Whales took them across
the Great Ice Barrier and up the Axel Heiberg Glacier. The party's
mastery of the use of skis and their expertise with sledge dogs ensured
rapid and relatively trouble-free travel. Although the expedition's
success was widely applauded, the story of Scott's heroic failure and
tragic death overshadowed its achievements. For his decision to keep
his true plans secret until the last moment, Amundsen was criticised
for what some considered deception on his part. (more...)
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Today's selected anniversaries:
A large earthquake severely damaged the city of Constantinople.
In Avignon, France, the Montgolfier brothers conducted their first test
of their hot air balloon.
Construction on the Three Gorges Dam began on the Yangtze River in
Torrential rains caused flash floods in Vargas, Venezuela, resulting in
tens of thousands of deaths, the destruction of thousands of homes, and
the complete collapse of the state's infrastructure.
The Tino Rangatiratanga flag representing the Māori people was
recognized officially by the government of New Zealand.
Wiktionary's word of the day:
class="qualifier-brac">)</span> To long, to yearn so much that it
Wikiquote quote of the day:
The project of organizing a democratic political movement entails the
hope that one's ideas and beliefs are not merely idiosyncratic but
speak to vital human needs, interests and desires, and therefore will
be persuasive to many and ultimately most people. But this is a very
different matter from deciding to put forward only those ideas presumed
(accurately or not) to be compatible with what most people already
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