Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by natalie. natalie Wonders, “who was the first person in the north pole” Thanks for WONDERing with us, natalie!
Do you ever wish that you lived back in the days when much of Earth had yet to be explored? Can you imagine being the first person to see Niagara Falls? What would it have been like to discover the Great Barrier Reef?
For those who like to explore, there are certainly frontiers yet to explore on Earth. However, they are harder to find and more difficult to reach. That was the case with one of the last frontiers of the Arctic that has still been visited by relatively few human beings. What are we talking about? The North Pole, of course!
Does that seem strange to you? After all, it's the North Pole. We know right where it is: 90 degrees north latitude. Why did it take so long to reach it? Unlike the South Pole, which can be found on a land mass, the North Pole sits in a large, cold sea covered by floating ice that's always in motion. Thus, there's no way to plant a flag or otherwise permanently mark its location.
Despite these difficulties, many explorers sought to be the first to reach the North Pole. In the early 20th century, two American explorers came forward with claims that they were the first to reach the North Pole.
In September 1909, Frederick A. Cook announced that he had reached the North Pole on foot in April 1908. He claimed he and his two Inuit companions had been forced to take shelter in an ice cave over the winter, thus causing the delay in communicating his achievement.
Only a week later, Robert E. Peary announced that he and his companion, Matthew Henson, were the first to reach the North Pole on foot in April 1909. Peary claimed that Cook's claim was a fraudulent attempt to steal his victory in reaching the North Pole first.
Cook and Peary both published detailed accounts of their journeys. Their books became bestsellers and a heated public debate broke out regarding who got to the North Pole first. In fact, that debate still remains unsettled to this day, and many modern historians believe neither Cook nor Peary ever made it all the way to the North Pole.
With the modern technology we have at our fingertips today, it might seem odd that no one can figure out for certain whether Cook and Peary made it to the North Pole and, if so, who got there first. However, Cook and Peary didn't have digital cameras to document their trips or Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers to tell them if they had made it all the way to 90 degrees north latitude.
Instead, Cook and Peary had to determine their position using a chronometer and a sextant, which are old navigational instruments that allow you to make mathematical computations to determine latitude based upon the position of the Sun. Based upon the calculations they made and the tools they used, many modern researchers believe both fell short of the North Pole.
Despite the lack of resolution over Cook's and Peary's claims, others have continued to explore the Arctic over the past century. One of the most impressive of those explorations was the trip completed by Richard Weber and Mikhail (Misha) Malakhov in 1995.
Weber and Malakhov were the first people to ski all the way to the North Pole and back under their own power without resupply. This journey required them to spend 123 days traveling to the North Pole and back while pulling a 300-pound sled with their supplies. To date, no one has repeated their feat.