The Vanco Arctic Survey will begin next year; Pen Hadow and two team members will spend more than 100 days trekking from Point Barrow in Alaska to the geographic North Pole.
As they travel across the icy terrain, they will be towing a radar that will probe ice thickness every few centimetres; communications equipment onboard the sledge will relay the readings back to the UK base-camp.
The radar measurements, the team hopes, should help to fill in the gaps from satellite and submarine data and enable scientists to accurately predict how long it will be before the Arctic experiences ice-free summers.
Michael Gorman, a Cambridge-based scientist who built the expedition’s radar, said it was crucial to test it before the expedition took place, not only because the radar would be key to the expedition but also because it was a prototype design.
Usually, the scientist explained, ground penetrating radars were large and could weigh up to 100 kg, making them impossible for a team to drag across the Arctic.
He said: “The challenge as I saw it was to create a radar that was high performance but was also extremely easy to use, so the team could switch it on and forget it.”
The result is the small 4 kg Sprite radar.
During the trials in Eureka, the radar was dragged behind the sledge on a four-hour round trip and its readings were compared with those taken from drilled ice cores.
Mr. Hadow said: “When we started processing the data from the Sprite last week, we could see that it was of unprecedented accuracy.”
“After two years of development, it was a moment of real excitement - and, of course, relief.”
The team also tested their communications equipment while at the research base in Canada.
Pen Hadow told the BBC News website: “The guts of our onboard communication system are what we call Viper.”
“It receives all of the different data streams pouring out as we travel across the ice cap: biomonitoring data, radar data, images from cameras and video footage.”
“Basically, it slices large volumes of data into small packets then sends them down six different lines at the same time. Then it reassembles them at the other end, back at base camp.”
The trials of the computer’s “uplink” were extremely successful, the team said, standing up to the region’s extreme temperatures.
They were able to send the images and footage used on this stage, including a video of their close encounter with a pack of Arctic wolves.
The next stage, said Mr. Hadow, would be to further refine the radar and on-board sledge computer. These developments will be tested during the final ice trials in 2010.
Answer the following questions:
1. What can you tell about first tests? Were they successful?
2. Was it possible to make accurate ice measurements in temperatures of -35°C?
3. What did Pen Hadow tell the BBC website?
4. What did Michael Gorman develop? Can you tell the name of this equipment?
5. What is this text about?
Page’s Injury and Rock Awards
All eyes were on Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page’s fractured finger at the Classic Rock awards - the reason why his band’s eagerly awaited reunion concert has been put back.
There were only two topics of conversation at Classic Rock and Roll awards in central London.
Which finger had Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page broken, and how exactly did he do it?
Strange to think a simple fracture should be such a talking point at an event attended by some of the rock world’s biggest names.
Given that the mishap forced the postponement of the year’s most keenly anticipated concert, it was hardly surprising.
Even Aerosmith frontman Steve Tyler referred to it as he presented Page with his Living Legend accolade at the end of the evening.
Arriving with his left hand discreetly lodged in his trouser pocket, the grey-haired musician at first seemed reluctant to be drawn on the subject.
Eventually, though, a bandaged pinky was revealed and the reason behind it - a tumble he had taken while walking in his garden a week ago.
“I happened to trip over a stone slab,” he revealed. “I didn’t just come down on my hand, I came down on other parts of my body as well.”
“But of course, it was the hand that had a bit of an injury to it.”
Had it happened to his right hand, he added, he “might have got away with it”.
“It’s the last thing I would have wanted to happen to anybody, let alone me,” he said.
“All I can do is conveying my apologies to the fans and anyone who has been inconvenienced.”
The lucky fans who managed to obtain tickets to the concert at London’s arena will not mind waiting an extra two weeks.
What is a fortnight after the 19 years it has taken Page, lead singer Robert Plant and bassist John Paul Jones to get back together?
Historic tensions between the legendary band’s surviving members led many to assume this day would never come. Page, however, was quick to assure reporters that the band’s “great chemistry” was still in place.
“The hardest thing was actually getting in a room together after all those years,” he said. “Once we got in there it was fantastic - the power of the music took over everything.”
Page also joked that, had his injury not occurred, the band “probably would have had two albums done by now”.
Now in their third year, the Classic Rock Roll of Honour may not have the swagger of the Q awards or the glamour of the Brits.
And with a guest list comprising such rock wrinkles as Alice Cooper, Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason and Rick Parfitt and Francis Rossi from Status Quo, the event certainly lived up to its classic tag.
What was self-evident, though, was a shared delight in live performance and the genuine respect and affection for the Living Legend in their midst.
“As a kid I was really into rock and roll - it took me hostage,” Page said as he accepted his honour. “Rock music took me by the throat and messed me up inside. Everyone in here has been taken the same way.”
Answer the following questions:
1. Who is Jimmy Page?
2. Do you know anything about Classic Rock Roll awards?
3. What happened with Jimmy Page?
4. Did you find out some interesting information from this text?
5. Do you like such music?
Brain “Closes Eyes” to Hear Music
Our brains can turn down our ability to see to help them listen to music and more complex sounds, say experts. A US study of 20 non-musicians and 20 musical conductors found both groups diverted brain activity away from visual areas during listening tasks.
Scans showed activity fell in these areas as it rose in auditory ones. But during harder tasks the changes were less marked for conductors than for non-musicians, researchers told.
The researchers, from Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center and the University of North Carolina, used functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, which can measure real-time changes in brain activity based on the blood flow to different areas of the brain.
Previous research has identified various parts of the brain involved in vision and hearing. While lying in the scanner, they were asked to listen to two different musical tones played a few thousandths of a second apart and identify which was played first.
The task was made harder for the professional musicians than for the non-musicians, to allow for the differences in their background.
What the scientists found was that while activity rose, as expected, in the auditory part of the brain, it correspondingly fell in the visual part.
As the task was made harder and harder, the non-musicians carried on diverting more and more activity away from the visual parts of the brain to the auditory side, as they struggled to concentrate.
However, after a certain point, the conductors did not suppress their brains, suggesting that their years of training had provided a distinct advantage in the way their brains were organised.