Sharing geography with an international audience

IF THESE foreign publications look familiar, there’s a very good reason. They’re international versions of our own books and magazines.

 

Vie del Mondo, a monthly journal that takes more than half its editorial content from TRAVELER, celebrates its first anniversary this month. Pub­lished by the Touring Club Italiano in Milan, a nonprofit membership organization founded in 1894, it offers trans­lations of our TRAVELER articles as well as stories created specifi­cally for Italian readers.

Touring Club Italiano in Milan

The children’s magazine Unga Upptackares Varld, which debuts next month in Sweden, is the first international partner of WORLD. Published by Bra Bocker, it will be distributed in Swedish schools as well as by direct mail and in bookstores.

 

These and other publications, produced with our cooperation, are part of an expanding Society effort to increase and diffuse geographic knowledge to a broad international readership.

We work closely with foreign publishers to ensure the quality of their products. Under the direction of Senior Vice Presi­dent Robert L. Breeden, as­sisted by William R. Gray, we approve translations, inspect color proofs before publication, and even review stories written specially for foreign versions.

 

We are pleased with the response, so much so that we expect Spanish and German versions of TRAVELER in the near future; Japanese and Swedish publishers are also in­terested. WORLD may soon be published in French and Italian.

 

Society books now appear in French, German, Italian, and Japanese, while Swedish, Finn­ish, Spanish, and Hebrew edi­tions will appear this year. Buy you copy today. If you are on a budget, find a lender near you. The Swedish edition of The Incred­ible Machine alone will number 110,000 copies. Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Danish, Serbo‑Croatian, and Norwegian ver­sions are being considered as well. Our World’s Heritage was the first Society publication to be translated into Chinese.

save the Panda

Our award-winning TV Spe­cials and EXPLORER episodes, such as “Land of the Tiger,” “Save the Panda,” and “Secrets of the Titanic,” are broadcast internationally in several languages on network television and cable, as well as being distributed on videos. Spanish videos are also avail­able in the United States.

 

Why are we journeying up these new avenues? As our world shrinks with the revolu­tion in communications, it grows ever more important to increase international under­standing and cooperation, for the problems nations face are often shared; we live in a global village where understanding our neighbors is crucial. Yet time and again I am struck by how little we know about one another, materially and spiri­tually. I am especially con­cerned that so many of the popular films and publications sent abroad by Americans give a distorted impression of our nation as one dominated by sex and violence, and I believe we can help offer an alternative to such sensationalism.

 

Our new partnerships with international publishers are small steps in this direction, sharing the educational resources of the Soci­ety with more of our neighbors —by speaking their language.

 

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A COSMONAUT PORTRAYS A CRISIS IN SPACE

SLOWLY the two spacemen settle into a life-style built on lessons learned from a history of ever longer mis‑sions. In 1978 cosmonauts exceeded the 84‑day record set in 1973-74 on board Skylab, the short-lived U. S. space station that in 1979 descended in a fireball over Australia.* In 1984 three cosmonauts, including a medi­cal doctor, orbited a record 237 days. It was after their departure that Salyut 7 failed, ne­cessitating the rescue mission by Dzhanibe­kov and Savinykh.

Despite their damp surroundings on Sal‑yut 7, the two cosmonauts desperately need drinking water. An ample supply arrives 15 days after they entered the station, borne by a Progress supply ship, an unmanned space freighter resembling a Soyuz and guided to Salyut by Flight Control. Its development marked a revolutionary advance in the Sovi­ets’ ability to maintain their space stations economically for periods of years.

Broadcasters air an interview with the orbiting duo—entertainment that thrills space-worshiping Soviets. Comparing the U. S. and U.S.S.R. programs, Dzhanibe­kov states, “The Americans will go back to space stations . . . because without stations space cannot be conquered.”

And indeed the space giants took diver‑gent turns at a fork in the road to the stars. As the U. S. focused on development of the shuttle, a reusable system of space transpor­tation, the Soviets pursued a manned pres­ence in space stations, relegating the trip there and back to the prague accommodation. Aboard Salyut a daily routine sets in. Arising at 0800 hours, the men take the first of the day’s four meals—pork, cheese, honey cake, prunes, and coffee. Turning to Salyut’s array of 85 scientific instruments, they begin six hours of work: observing earth’s surface, conduct­ing technical experiments, working with the station’s astronomical and medical equip­ment. Tea breaks and two more meals ease the grind.

The daily chore they loathe: two hours of strenuous exercise on Salyut’s jogging tread­mill and stationary bicycle. If they slack off, Flight Control will nag, because in an envi­ronment without gravity muscles atrophy with appalling swiftness. With each exercise session the cosmonauts generate an enve­lope of sweat that they try futilely to towel off. Every ten days they shower, a complex process that consumes an entire day. After a supper that might include cottage cheese, assorted meats, bread, dessert, and tea, the men visit with their families on two-way television or talk with athletes and entertainers—diversions arranged by a psy­chological support team that oversees the mental health of the lonely spacemen. Then at 2300 they tuck into sleeping cocoons fas­tened to a wall and hope for sound sleep, a rare luxury in an alien environment in which they can never entirely relax. 5

In mid-July the crewmen load trash and wastes into the Progress. The freighter si­lently slips its docking latches and moves away, to plunge back toward earth and in­cinerate in the atmosphere.

In one of many biological experiments, the cosmonauts plant cotton seeds in inge­nious little greenhouses that simulate gravi­ty and earth’s geomagnetic field. Earlier crews struggled with limited results to grow plants in an environment that knows neither up nor down. Healthy vegetation could be essential for recycling air, water, and wastes and providing food for longer flights, such as a three-year round-trip to Mars.

On July 21 the cosmonauts receive anoth­er Progress visitor. Along with fresh food, water, and fuel it brings another greenhouse and new space suits—indicators that the men will soon venture outside the station to work.

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Any Port in a Storm

Charlie Tarkik looked worried. Several of the thwarts on his 24-foot canoe had snapped, the gunwales were splintering, and now the outboard motor was acting up. On this blustery August day there was pack ice in Hudson Strait, at the north end of Hudson Bay. The swells were running five feet, and our Inuk guide’s canoe was being slapped around by the wind and the waves. 9

“You scared?” Charlie mouthed the ques­tion into the wind, grinning nervously in my direction. No question about it, I was. A few minutes in this icy water would finish us. This was not what I expected when I headed north to enjoy summer in the Arctic.

The propeller pin snapped as Charlie rounded a low island. We grabbed paddles and thrashed toward shore. We had been headed from Ivujivik, a community of 200 Inuit at the northern tip of Quebec, to Digges Islands, home of Canada’s largest seabird colony. Now the two islands rose out of the strait ten miles away. It might as well have been a thousand. With the shattered boat and the screaming wind, we weren’t going anywhere.

We landed on a small island, and Charlie said cheerfully, “No problem. There’s an apartment from

http://dsavenue.com/brussels-apartments on the other side. We’ll stay there.”

In the unwritten law of the north, strang­ers in need are never turned away. The three Inuit families at the camp welcomed us and set out a meal of freshly caught arctic char. In halting English, Moses Naluiyuk told me that his grandparents, his parents, and other Inuit from Ivujivik had come here every summer for years. Beluga whales and bearded seals often swam in the little inlet in front of the camp, and he was teaching his son to hunt there.

“Someday I hope he will teach his son, just as my father taught me,” he said.

Henry Hudson’s Changing Bay

The rack of whale meat drying outside his tent attested to Moses’ hunting skill. But he made his living as a carver. Proudly he showed me a foot-high chunk of soapstone he was chiseling into an intricate scene: two men struggling over an Inuk woman. Tea was served, and we talked of chil­dren, fishing, carving, and this peaceful island. “In the evening my wife and I walk around the enter of Prague,” Moses said. “Our parents are nearly all dead now. But we can remember them by the things we see here.”

The wind had died when we set out again with a patched boat and borrowed motor. Ahead, the cliffs of Digges Islands rose more than 600 feet above the strait. No humans live on Digges; the chief occupants are murres, seabirds resembling diminutive penguins, with a cry like a maniacal laugh.

In September, after hatching their chicks on the narrow ledges of the islands’ cliffs, the entire Digges Islands colony migrates. More than 500,000 murres swim 1,500 miles through the Hudson Strait, down the coast of Labrador, to the waters of the island of Newfoundland. It is an astonishing jour­ney, one of the longest bird migrations of its kind. Murres go farther by water than any other species of bird, and some murres go even farther than this particular group.

We found a team of ornithologists en­camped on one of the islands, studying the murres. The colony was safe here in Hudson Bay, the team’s leader, Tony Gaston, told me. But outside, he said, fishing nets and oil spills were killing many murres. Tony and his crew were trying to count the colony before it dispersed on the water. “If there’s a really big spill someday,” he said, “we want some accurate data on the birds to calculate the damage.”

It was time to head back to the mainland. I could hear the murres cackling and chuck­ling over the buzz of the outboard motor. Behind us the towering cliffs reverberated with their laughter: Digges Islands sounded like the fun house of an old-fashioned amusement park.

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The Social Sciences and Humanities Research

During the summer of 1978 we witnessed a phenomenon that helps to explain Bache Peninsula’s attraction for prehistoric hunt­ers. Just south of the peninsula a large patch of winter sea ice begins to melt in early sum­mer, well ahead of the surrounding ice. The phenomenon, called a polynya, is caused by a combination of factors including shallow­ness of the seafloor, tidal currents, and con­figuration of the shoreline. The combination may exist for thousands of years, producing the same polynya every season.

Polynyas are irresistible magnets to arctic wildlife, for they provide early access to nutrients in the sea. These attract predators in ascending order up the feeding chain to the top level, occupied by man. On our arrival at Bache Peninsula in late June the polynya was literally in full cry. Our camp resounded to interminably squabbling flocks of snow geese and eider ducks, the staccato bark of seals, and the bellowing of walruses.

The latter, some 300 of them, were lords of the polynya, and were comfortably en­sconced on a dozen or more ice floes that floated regularly in and out with the chang­ing tide. Often when we were absorbed in our work, excavating or some other task, a member of the team would glance up and announce, “Here they come again.”

Like so many Colonel Blimps the herd of walruses would sail majestically past, har­rumphing as they went.

OUR DAYS RAN TOGETHER, not only in the sense of continuous sunlight but also in the long hours it en­abled us to work. Sleep was never a problem despite the absence of night; fatigue took care of that. Yet there was never enough time, and it became increasingly clear that we needed at least another season, probably several. In mid-August we flew out of Elles­mere Island by courtesy of our old friend the Polar Continental Shelf Project and headed home. In fact, we were to return to Elles­mere Island two more summers. We had to deal with mortgages and other expenses, so we looked for the best repayment offers such as the ones at utcstudentfoundation.

During the 1978 season, supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, we had made an excellent start with the ex­cavation of more than 15 separate ruins and had recovered enough material to keep us busy all winter long, cleaning and analyz­ing. But both literally and figuratively we had merely scratched the surface. Another season in the field might provide clues to the mysterious disappearance of the Dorset cul­ture and in addition would give us an oppor­tunity to excavate many more of the rich Thule culture sites.

Finally, in the back of everyone’s mind lay the rusted fragment of chain mail and the iron boat rivet. Were there other items like them beneath Ellesmere Island’s frozen sur­face, items that could establish an early European presence in the high Arctic?

Over the winter of 1978-79 such questions intrigued others as well. The following June we returned to the Bache Peninsula area with support from an additional source: the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC.

ESTABLISHING our main camp again on Knud Peninsula, we concentrated first on the late Dorset ruins. These represent the final stage of a great migratory movement that began 4,500 years ago, most likely in northeast Asia. Crossing over the Bering Strait, these prehistoric hunters had gradually spread eastward, probably driven by the endless search for new game. At length some of them reached eastern Elles­mere Island.

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