Back when I was in middle school, the internet was still something of a novelty, but we did have email. So when I was assigned a report on Antarctica, my mom dug up the email address of a real, live scientist living at the research station there. We emailed him a few report-related questions, and he actually emailed us back, which was basically the coolest thing that ever happened, since it meant that modern technology made it possible to communicate with someone living in at the very bottom of the globe. But 15 years later, I wouldn’t even have to email a scientist for my report on Antarctica — I could just email the continent.

Okay, it’s not like Antarctica can check Gmail. But new technology means that Antarctic scientists don't even have to live there to study the ice shelf; instead, the ice shelf itself can communicate with people living in America. A team of scientists is installing a fiber optic cable which will enable the ice shelf to report back to an office in New York City on temperatures within itself and in the ocean below. That's empirically cooler than getting an email from a mere human scientist in Antarctica. But I'm guessing the ice shelf's response would be a little colder than that of an isolated scientist, who was probably thrilled that an 11-year-old cared about his work.

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