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Incredible Photographs of a Doomed 1914 Antarctic Expedition

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In October 1914, 28 explorers set out from Buenos Aires to make the first transcontinental trek across Antarctica. By January, their ship, the Endurance, was mired in ice, unable to reach the continent, and the next November, it sank. Led by British explorer Ernest Shackleton, the crew lived on ice floes, eventually setting out on lifeboats for solid ground in what would become one of the great tales of human survival.

All 28 of the Endurance’s crew survived. So did more than 90 fragile negatives of images taken by the expedition photographer, Frank Hurley. The newly digitized photographs from the 1914-1917 expedition, on display at the Royal Geographic Society in London through February, document the harrowing multi-year journey.

While the Endurance survived, trapped within the ice, Hurley set up a darkroom in the ship’s refrigerator. His images show not only the extreme circumstances, but the day-to-day work and play that went on inside the ship during its long, isolated months of entrapment, much of which took place during the dark Antarctic winter.

They scrubbed the ship, took down what scientific observations they could, and played chess.

Later, when the ship keeled over and then sank, they set up camp on the ice. 

In early April 1916, the ice floe they were living on split, and they set out in lifeboats for solid ground. After a perilous crossing, they reached the cold and inhospitable Elephant Island, the first land the crew had stood on since 1914. A handful of men then set out for whaling stations on the island of South Georgia, while the rest of the crew (including Hurley) stayed behind, living underneath two overturned lifeboats. After about four months marooned on Elephant Island, those 22 men were finally saved by Shackleton, who secured two ships to rescue them and take them to Chile.

More of Hurley's incredible visual record of the journey is on display in Enduring Eye: The Antarctic Legacy of Sir Ernest Shackleton and Frank Hurley, on view at the Royal Geographic Society until February 28.

All images courtesy RGS-IBG

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NASA, Getty Images
Watch Apollo 11 Launch
Vice President Spiro Agnew and former President Lyndon Johnson view the liftoff of Apollo 11
Vice President Spiro Agnew and former President Lyndon Johnson view the liftoff of Apollo 11
NASA, Getty Images

Apollo 11 launched on July 16, 1969, on its way to the moon. In the video below, Mark Gray shows slow-motion footage of the launch (a Saturn V rocket) and explains in glorious detail what's going on from a technical perspective—the launch is very complex, and lots of stuff has to happen just right in order to get a safe launch. The video is mesmerizing, the narration is informative. Prepare to geek out about rockets! (Did you know the hold-down arms actually catch on fire after the rocket lifts off?)

Apollo 11 Saturn V Launch (HD) Camera E-8 from Spacecraft Films on Vimeo.

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Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma
Utility Workers May Have Found One of Rome’s First Churches
Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma
Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma

The remains of what may have been one of Rome’s earliest Christian churches were accidentally discovered along the Tiber River during construction, The Local reports. The four-room structure, which could have been built as early as the 1st century CE, was unearthed by electrical technicians who were laying cables along the Ponte Milvio.

The newly discovered structure next to the river
Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma

No one is sure what to make of this “archaeological enigma shrouded in mystery,” in the words of Rome’s Archaeological Superintendency. Although there’s no definitive theory as of yet, experts have a few ideas.

The use of colorful African marble for the floors and walls has led archaeologists to believe that the building probably served a prestigious—or perhaps holy—function as the villa of a noble family or as a Christian place of worship. Its proximity to an early cemetery spawned the latter theory, since it's common for churches to have mausoleums attached to them. Several tombs were found in that cemetery, including one containing the intact skeleton of a Roman man.

Marble flooring
Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma

A tomb
Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma1

The walls are made of brick, and the red, green, and beige marble had been imported from Sparta (Greece), Egypt, and present-day Tunisia, The Telegraph reports.

As The Local points out, it’s not all that unusual in Rome for archaeological discoveries to be made by unsuspecting people going about their day. Rome’s oldest aqueduct was found by Metro workers, and an ancient bath house and tombs were found during construction on a new church.

[h/t The Local]

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