Thursday, December 27, 2007

IT Manager at the South Pole

Computer World has a really interesting artlcle: The Big Chill: Ch-Ch-Chatting with the IT manager at the South Pole.

"It is incredibly dry [so] static electricity is a huge problem for us. We lose more laptops and hard drives to static electricity than anything else. Our biggest failures are things like power supplies and hard drives. We're at an altitude of 12,000 feet and with the thin air here, cooling fans don't push a lot of air. Anything heat related tends to need a lot of extra TLC. Hard drives also have a problem with the high altitude. Most hard drive heads float on a cushion of air above the platter. We have fewer air molecules for hard drives to float on so we have more hard drive crashes than anywhere else."

"We have this tradition called the 300 Club. When the temperature drops below -100 we hike the sauna up to 200 degrees and stay in there as long as we can stand it. Then we run outside, naked, around the geographic pole and back inside so we get that total 300-degree change in temperature. That happens every year and it's absolutely amazing. Just the feel of that cold on your skin is like nothing else. People always wonder if you can feel the difference between 60 below and 100 below and the answer is absolutely."

"My first year down here we had a guy that ended up tearing a tendon in his knee. It wasn't a life threatening injury. but if we didn't repair it surgically he would not have been able to walk normally for the rest of his life. We ended up using this primitive videoconferencing system and we did remote telesurgery down here. We had an orthopedic surgeon in the states watching and telling our doctor how to repair the tendon. The satellites weren't nearly as stable as they are now. We had several dropouts during the surgery and our guys were scrambling around at night to get the signal restored. We didn't want to leave this poor guy on the table with no doctor to guide us on what to do. But we restored the signal and [the doctor] finished successfully."

1 comment:

Natalie & Jessica's Dad said...

I noticed several of the facts in this article were also items or subjects that appeared in the movie "Eight Below". Good to see movie makers doing their research.