Event Detail


The Race to the Pole: Scott, Amundsen and Science

Professor Edward Larson
Wednesday, 14 Mar 2012
Hong Kong Fooll Club


In view of the likely popularity of this event, if you would like to attend, please would you contact us for tickets. Priority is initially to be given to Members with one guest. There is no need to pay for your tickets in advance.

HK$150 Members and HK$200 Non members

6.30 pm drinks (cash bar) and book signing 7.30 pm lecture starts

Professor Edward Larson, the Pulitzer Prize–winning historian, lectures on "The Race to the Pole: Scott, Amundsen and Science ". This lecture was first given, to much acclaim, to the Fellows of the Royal Society of London in September 2011. In this lecture, Professor Larson, in comemoration of the Centenary of Scott and Amundsen reaching the South Pole, retells the gripping tale of the "race " to the South Pole in a broad light. He sees Captain Robert Scott's Terra Nova Expedition primarily as a scientific enterprise, while considering both expeditions in a larger scientific, social and geopolitical context.

The conventional story of the "race " to the South Pole between Robert Scott and Roald Amundsen is well known. But, asks Professor Larson, was it really a race? Certainly Captain Scott never conceived it as one. In planning his expedition, he never expected any competition, least of all from Amundsen, who was supposedly drifting towards the North Pole. Professor Larson argues that Captain Scott planned a deliberate march to the Pole and was unwilling to change his plans after he learned that Amundsen had entered the field. In addition, Roald Amundsen was being drawn to the South Pole in a dog sled, a practice now illegal, rather than the conventional achievement to this day of trekking to the Pole.

More critically, in the tradition of Victorian and Edwardianera Royal Geographical Society expeditions, Professor Larson argues that Captain Scott planned to achieve a great deal of scientific discovery on the expedition, taking along a team of scientists whose work would give greater meaning to the enterprise. Thus his thesis suggests that the role that science played in shaping the outcome of the "race " was axiomatic, in which reaching the South Pole was but a spectacular sideshow. In this lecture, by focusing on the larger purpose, Professor Larson leads to a new appreciation of the explorers’ achievements, shares littleknown stories and shows what the "Heroic Age of Antarctic Discovery " was really about.

Professor Edward Larson is Professor of History and holds the Chair of the School of Law at Pepperdine University. He is also a visiting Professor at Stanford University. He formerly held the Chair of Law and was Professor of American History at the University of Georgia. He continues to serve as a Senior Fellow of the University of Georgia's Institute of Higher Education. He is the author of 10 books on science and exploration, including Summer for the Gods, for which he received the Pulitzer Prize, and An Empire of Ice, published in 2011.

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