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100-Year-Old Photo Negatives Discovered In Antarctica 114

Posted by samzenpus
from the cold-storage dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A box of 22 photographic negatives from Robert Falcon Scott has been discovered after lying nearly a century in the famous explorer's hut. From the article: 'The photos were taken during Ernest Shackleton's 1914-1917 Ross Sea Party, another failed exploration whose members were forced to live in Scott's hut after their ship blew out to sea. The cellulose nitrate negatives were found clumped together in a small box in the darkroom of Herbert Ponting, Scott's expedition photographer, the trust said. The trust took the negatives to New Zealand, where they were separated to reveal 22 images.'"
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100-Year-Old Photo Negatives Discovered In Antarctica

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    In light of a certain Der Spiegel revelation in the last few days, you you at least warn people that the lionk goes to CNN.

  • Awesome (Score:5, Funny)

    by future assassin (639396) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @03:39AM (#45843633) Homepage

    they must have felt like kids finding it.

  • A couple of the photos show the explorers. My immediate thought was how ill equipped for the cold they look by today's standards. Then I started wondering about space suits. They obviously can withstand the cold and also have some durability for the elements given that on earth astronauts train wearing them under water. What are some practical limitations of space suits (perhaps modified to, e.g., not have to carry oxygen) that make them impracticable for working near the poles?
    • Re:Space suits? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Brainguy (12519) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @03:51AM (#45843657)

      I think the biggest problem would be that those suits weigh something like 200-300 pounds.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Enormously expensive ($12M), uncomfortable. Besides the space isn't really as cold as the Antarctic. You only lose heat from radiating infrared whereas in the Antarctic you have the wind to deal with.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      In space there is one thing that makes space suits usable at all. That thing is lack of gravity.

      • by Paradise Pete (33184) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @06:13AM (#45844101) Journal

        In space there is one thing that makes space suits usable at all. That thing is lack of gravity.

        Oh man you'e just asking for a flock of pedants to jump on you about a "lack of gravity." Right after they explain to me that pedants do not come in flocks. (I believe the proper group name is an Annoyance.)

    • Re:Space suits? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 02, 2014 @04:27AM (#45843799)

      The antarctic is alot colder than space... Not in absolute terms. But in real world terms as it applys to humans and their stuff.

      In space you have very little heat loss because it doesn't transfer very well to a vacuum. Why spacesuits do double duty as cooling units to keep you from overheating. The whole no air thing is a great insulator and your only losses are radiation.

      On the pole however. It's cold. AND filled with air... Cold air. Moving cold air. Lots of it. You have much greater heat loss than just radiation.

      You'd freeze in a space suit on the pole. Likely pretty quick too.

    • by swb (14022)

      I'm sure there's all kinds of environmental protection provided by spacesuits that's not needed and just adds weight and bulk, like radiation shielding and even cooling systems.

      I live in Minnesota where it gets cold (current temp, -4F, projected high Monday, -14F) and in my experience conventional snowmobile suit combined with snow boots with the right clothing layers underneath does a pretty good job of keeping you warm.

      I would think that a snowmobile suit with some kind of internal heating system would be

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      The fact that when you lose power your heat goes away. Space suits have heaters and chillers in them to maintain temperatures.

    • A couple of the photos show the explorers. My immediate thought was how ill equipped for the cold they look by today's standards. Then I started wondering about space suits. They obviously can withstand the cold and also have some durability for the elements given that on earth astronauts train wearing them under water. What are some practical limitations of space suits (perhaps modified to, e.g., not have to carry oxygen) that make them impracticable for working near the poles?

      The major point against using space suits for arctic exploration imo might be that space suits actually are COOLING suits. They are designed to prevent the astronauts from overheating, because evaporative cooling (sweating) does not work in space. Also, the suits are pressurized and quite hard to move in, plus they are very heavy.

      • by Agripa (139780)

        because evaporative cooling (sweating) does not work in space

        Evaporative cooling works fine in space and the new NASA spacesuit uses it. It does not work inside of a pressurized spacesuit unless air can be circulated and dried. Skin-tight spacesuits take advantage of it directly to allow the body to regulate its own temperature through evaporation through the skin.

    • There's the fact that you essentially can't move around in them whatsoever if you're on the surface of the earth. The only reason why they work in the NBL (Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory, i.e. the giant pool) is because of the...wait for it...neutral buoyancy. When they're not underwater, the astronauts are essentially trapped in the suit as if it was a giant, person-shaped prison. The risk of drowning in the NBL is a very real one as well. I seem to recall hearing from an astronaut friend of ours that there w

  • Digital camera (Score:5, Interesting)

    by renzhi (2216300) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @04:10AM (#45843741)
    The first thing that came to my mind when I saw the title is, hmm, let's put a digital camera or an SD card full of digital pictures in Antartica for 100 years, and see if we can recover it :)
    • I'll venture a guess that the Antarctic has pretty good climate control, if you're protected inside a hut from debris (wind, wind-borne particles, etc.). Doesn't exactly heat up and cause everything to condense.... and refreeze... and condense... and refreeze... Cosmic radiation (bit flipping) might be more of an issue at that point. (Then there's UV, which destroys virtually everything, given enough time, and often, when given not very much time. Major problem for archivists.)
      • I expect the Sun exploding (whist not altogether in the UV light range) would make it hard to get data off an SD card.
    • by citizenr (871508)

      The first thing that came to my mind when I saw the title is, hmm, let's put a digital camera or an SD card full of digital pictures in Antartica for 100 years, and see if we can recover it :)

      SD card will lose data after >~20years
      First SD cards used SLC in big geometries, that could maybe last 60-80years.
      Nowadays you get garbage quality 20nm TLC that loses data even WHEN YOU READ said data (card needs to periodically rewrite stored data or else it will forget it).

  • by DrXym (126579) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @04:52AM (#45843847)
    Scott (of the Antartic) died in 1912 and had nothing to do with the pictures. Shackleton's later expedition was using his hut and left the pictures there.
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It is interesting to see how little snow is there. Even Scott remarked in his journals how little snow there was in 1912 compared to the first time he was there, only 5 years later. "I have never seen the ice of the Sound in such a condition or the land so free from snow. Taking these facts in conjunction with the exceptional warmth of the air, I came to the conclusion that it had been an exceptionally warm summer." (Scott, 1912)

      These photos are from 1914. Yet we are to believe all the snow/ice melt has

    • by laejoh (648921)
      A great documentary about Scott (of the Antartic) can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7qGeapgeDGk [youtube.com]!
  • by thegarbz (1787294) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @05:43AM (#45843993)

    This is amazing every time we see it. But alas I can see a different summary in the future:

    Posted by samzenpus on Thursday January 02, 2114 @05:06PM

    An anonymous reader writes

    "A microSD card has been discovered after lying nearly a century on the moon in an ancient Chinese rover. From the article: 'It is presumed to contain photos which were taken during the PRC's 2013-2014 Moon mission. The microSD card was found in a rusted pile of what appeared to be the remains of the small rover. The card was taken to New Zealand, where even their ancient technology was unable to read it due to historic use of patent encumbered file systems and file formats where all documentation has been lost.'"

    This is the future of discovering man kind's left overs. A piece of plastic with a small microchip containing unreadable gibberish.

    • Who cares about a little piece of plastic gimmickery when the future is apparently that samzenpus outlives us all?
      • by thegarbz (1787294)

        Who cares about a little piece of plastic gimmickery when the future is apparently that samzenpus outlives us all?

        Samzenpus is just a slashdot bot. You don't think we have any actual editors here do you?

    • by dominux (731134)

      rusted pile?!?

    • by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @07:47AM (#45844363) Homepage

      Until they find an old interface to read it, and discover it has only a single copy of "Never gonna give you up" on it.

    • >> This is the future of discovering man kind's left overs. A piece of plastic with a small microchip containing unreadable gibberish.

      In other words, a small piece of plastic.

    • by DarthVain (724186)

      That's nothing. Going through my Dad's thumb drives over Christmas I found one that contains all his digital photos. Fully about half of them are in an unreadable PDX (Photoshop Deluxe Express) format. So they are already unreadable gibberish, and that is only a handful of years in the past. No amount of software would convert them to something useful. Just image what someone would find in 100 years.

      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        Sure certain formats have fallen out of use, but many haven't. I can still read BMP files I created 20 years ago on my first computer. My first digital camera from 12 years ago used JPG, and so does my new one. Almost invariably, even when a technically superior format exists, the more popular format will continue to be used. OGG never took over MP3 even though some would say it sounded better at the same bitrate. JPEG2000 never got off the ground because JPG was already good enough. As for physical inte
        • by DarthVain (724186)

          Also you mention music. Try video.

          I have a hell of a time to get all the various video formats working on my computer that are modern and produced now, and have all sorts of codec packages, players, etc... and even then some will or will not play, or be missing subs or whatever. Try using any of those down the road!

        • by thegarbz (1787294)

          My first digital camera used floppy disks and you need to go out of your way these days to buy a reader assuming the magnetic media is still good 15 years later.

          But the reality is you're talking quite a different time scale here. Lets talk about this again in another 80 years and see if you can still do everything. Then after we awake from cryo lets repeat this discussion in another 200 years and then talk about it again. How about 1000?

          The reality is finding a permanent way of recording something is not ea

      • by operagost (62405)
        On the first page of results from Google are three converter programs that read PDX.
        • by DarthVain (724186)

          Have you tried any of them? Because I have. Some say they support it, but don't. Even when they do there are apparently two types of PDX files, one produced by Photoshop, and one produced by Photoshop Deluxe Express, and it seems most can only do those produced by actual Photoshop. The Deluxe Express which came with digital cameras as free software isn't quite the same it seems. Of those that even say they support that, I found two, however when I tried either one of them neither of them actually worked and

          • It is likely you might be able to buy a retail copy of Photoshop to convent them, and that probably would work, but then you are spending thousands of dollars.

            I don't know if this is helpful, but you don't need to spend thousands of dollars for an old copy of Photoshop. Adobe has effectively released CS2 as freeware [techspot.com]. Officially, I believe you are only supposed to download and use this if you already have a CS2 license [forbes.com], but lots of people appear to have interpreted Adobe's actions as effectively releasing free software.

            So, you might try this as a solution... CS2 was released in 2005, so if your photos are 10 years old, I imagine this could work.

            • by DarthVain (724186)

              Or I could just pirate their software. However that goes a bit beyond just ethically vague.

              Were it just me, I would likely do the later, using it to figure out how to batch convert the files, convert them, then delete the software. I would assuage my guilt by the fact that I am using for a specific purpose to solve a problem cause by Adobe itself, then ceasing my use of the software.

              However this is my Dad, and I feel more inclined for a legitimate fix. Of course I could just steal the thumb drive with the b

            • by DarthVain (724186)

              However I will look into CS2... That may be just want my Dad needs. That is hoping that he can figure out how to get it, or if it is even compatible with Windows 8...

      • by mikael (484)

        Fifteen years ago, I used to do my file backups using burnable CD's (and some software like Nero). About five years later, the external CD burner stopped working, and it was hit and miss as to whether any other PC drive would read those "unclosed" disks.

        I've got old image files in AtariPaint format (the cartridge for the Atari 400/800) - they seem to be unreadable, and that's just 30 years ago.

    • The microSD card was found in a rusted pile of what appeared to be the remains of the small rover.

      I'd think the amazing thing about such a find would be the "rusted pile of what appeared to be the remains..." since lack of O2 on Luna pretty much makes rust impossible.

      Never mind that the rover is made of materials that don't rust even with O2 present.

    • by slashmojo (818930)

      Glacier [amazon.com] would seem to be the appropriate technology.. ;)

    • by citizenr (871508)

      This is the future of discovering man kind's left overs. A piece of plastic with a small microchip containing unreadable gibberish.

      Unlikely. Actually what will doom data retention is constant race of storage providers to give us more for less at a cost of quality. Smaller silicon processes, TLC NAND, SMR ( http://www.hgst.com/science-of-storage/emerging-technologies/shingled-magnetic-recording [hgst.com] ) all lead to terrible data persistence.

  • by sprins (717461) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @07:36AM (#45844333)

    That's a cool Instagram filter they used. Anyone know which it is?

    • by wbr1 (2538558)
      It's called old fart pictures for dummies.
    • by mikael (484)

      It's called Silver Nitrate on a glass plate. No electronic timers, electric circuits, auto-flash, matrix-weighting, zoom, auto-stabilization, JPEG compression, white-balance, macro-mode, red-eye mode, auto-timer, auto-upload available. Just place the plate in the wooden-box, remove the lens cap, wait 15 seconds, then cover the cap again. Then take the plates to the dark room and develop them.

  • by Archimonde (668883) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @08:36AM (#45844541) Homepage

    For anyone not knowing the expedition stories, even just by reading Wikipedia you can get the sense of how much those people went through. It is well worth your time: (warning: it is worse than tvtropes;)

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heroic_Age_of_Antarctic_Exploration [wikipedia.org]
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nimrod_Expedition/ [wikipedia.org]
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amundsen's_South_Pole_expedition [wikipedia.org]
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imperial_Trans-Antarctic_Expedition [wikipedia.org]
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ross_Sea_party [wikipedia.org]

    • by PingXao (153057)

      Seconded. Coincidentally, just a few weeks ago I was pseudo-randomly websurfing and came upon the wikipedia articles about the so-called Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration. I easily spent two evenings reading about those journeys and the men - and animals - that undertook them. Fascinating stuff.

      One of the participants in one of the expeditions was Apsley Cherry-Garrard. He subsequently wrote a book, "The Worst Journey In The World", which is on Project Gutenberg's site http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/1436 [gutenberg.org]

      • Yeah, I'm was planning to read this book too. I've read Shackleton's South, it is a bit dry, but epic nonetheless.

        I'm working on a expedition ship and went couple of times to the Elephant Island/ Point Wild/Valentine, and when you see it in person, I found it absolutely incredible that those guys survived there for many months. Simply unbelievable!

        And when you see the ice on the continent itself, it is breathtaking, looks like white desert with with steep mountains.

  • by fred911 (83970) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @08:51AM (#45844605)

    http://www.nzaht.org/AHT/antarctic-photos/ [nzaht.org]
    for a complete collection of the images.

  • This story is pushing a month old and has already made the rounds on the DrudgeReport, Digg and other aggregators and is dead and buried. Note to /. editors... you can actually find and post new content ... your job isn't limited to filtering out dupes.
  • Pictures of ice and snow. I was hoping that they would have had a sense of humour during their predicament and we would get to see the world's first goatse image.
  • I have somehow ended up with F. Alton Wade's letters that he sent from Antarctica to his girlfriend back in the States. The snow cruiser is apparently an awesome base station, although completely useless as a vehicle.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Antarctic_snow_cruiser_cutaway.jpg [wikipedia.org]

  • Can't they just take new pictures?

  • It'd be interesting to see how the copyright is going to be talked into existence on these 100-year-old photographs made by an unknown photographer.

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