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Ancient ice and viral videos in Antarctica

February 22, 2020

Oh it’s weird. [ clattering sound ] [ high-pitched ‘pew’ sound ] [ heartbeat sound ] Yeah. Hey I’m Peter Neff. I’m here at Law Dome where we’re drilling a whole bunch of ice cores to pull out ancient air –
study how the atmosphere cleans itself. So the most recent work that I’ve done is with
the air bubbles that are trapped in the ice. We have ice that can be up to
800,000 years old. Just like tree rings, we can build records
of what climate was like in the past. Once you have all of these bore holes that you’re
done with – you’ve done all the science – the logical human thing to do is
to throw some ice down a deep hole to see what it sounds like.
And that’s what we did. [ crashing noises ] [ gunshot noise ]
– laughter – It’s just like an unexpected sound. It’s a solid ice bore hole. This is the version of it that went viral and it’s beyond ten million views now. The first thing you hear as ice is falling the pitch of the sound is changing
and that’s the Doppler effect. And then when the ice hits the bottom of the bore hole the sound doesn’t only come straight up.
The sound waves start to bounce off the side of the hole,
so that’s why you hear this ‘pew’. And then there’s a sort of a heartbeat sound afterwards. Yeah I’m big in Japan. I was interviewed on the national broadcasting. They even made an animation of the ice drop and I think they got all the acoustics right. It’s incredible! It’s great to be able to share
about Antarctica from Antarctica now. It takes a long time for us to get scientific results so videos are nice to share in the meantime. Like the ice drop video is a little
disconnected from the science but it’s an entry way for people to see what we do and it’s sharing with people
the work that they help to support.

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