Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 60.djvu/223

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with the ice. The 'Gauss' has been designed for strength, not speed, and has been fitted up so as to make the minimum possible demands on its coal consumption for steaming, scientific work and domestic use. The number of the staff has been kept lower than on the English expedition so that the food supply may be larger and last longer. To make up for the smallness of the crew, 70 dogs have been provided for sledge expeditions. Further various tempting fields of scientific work are to be left unentered as impracticable with the available cargo capacity of the ship.

The Swedish and Scotch expeditions both go to an area where the opportunity for work largely depends on the particular ice conditions of the season. If the ice be open and the Weddell Sea fairly clear, they may reach high latitudes and discover the southern boundary of the South Atlantic basin. As so much depends on the chances of the weather, the plan in both cases is to establish stations on shore as far south as possible, and for the ships to leave the ice at the end of the summer and undertake oceanographic research outside the ice pack during the winter.

III. The Problems of the Antarctic.

The frequency of enquiries as to the practical value of Antarctic research shows that popular interest in the subject still values results from what it chooses to call their 'usefulness.' Information as to the meteorology and magnetic phenomena of the Antarctic regions may prove of value in navigation and weather prediction. Unexpected stores of economic products may be found on land or at sea. Nevertheless it must be admitted that the hope of practical rewards is a less powerful incentive to Antarctic exploration than the desire for new facts of theoretical value. The expeditions seek knowledge because it is knowledge rather than because it may be power. The first problem which the collated reports of the four expeditions will be expected to answer is whether the hypothetical 'Terra Australis' has any existence at the present day. Opinions are divided on this question. According to one school the Antarctic lands mostly belong to a great south polar continent; according to another there is no continent but only a number of comparatively small and widely scattered islands. Sir John Murray is the leading champion of the continental hypothesis; he has sketched the probable outline of his 'Antarctica' and represents it as an irregularly triangular area, of a size fully entitling it to rank as a continent.

That the Antarctic lands belong to a continent geologically there can be no doubt; for rocks of a typical continental character have now been collected from most of them, including Victoria Land, Wilkes Land and Graham Land. Specimens are now especially wanted