The story of the Russians planting a flag on the sea floor at the geographic north pole is too rich to pass up all the metaphors, both the press and me included.
New cold war.
Hotly contested claims of mineral rights.
Canadians say Russian claims have no grounds.
Russia rejects cold reception.
(Russian English Language News Footage)
I have a previous post back in march covering the tourism aspect of the MIR expedition and how you could have been there for $80,000USD or $15,000 to stand on the deck and watch.
Of course we all know that this is only possible because of Global Warming (which has been, according to NOAA, about 1.0 to 1.7°F between 1906-2005.
Along the lines of North Pole symbolism, a Brit was up there a couple of weeks before the Russians for a little global warming dip.
(A very cold swim)
On a truly Scientific note:
Nearly a month before the Russian submersibles, accompanying news crews and the 37-year old British lawyer/swimmer the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution has been quietly conducting polar sea floor research with AUVs. The WHOI scientists are exploring the arctic ocean's Gakkel Ridge the deepest mid-ocean ridge, ranging from 3 to 5 kilometers (1.8 to 3 miles) deep, and it is also perhaps the slowest-spreading ridge.
The goal of the Gakkel Ridge expedition is to see if active hydrothermal vents are really there, to find them, and to learn if they, and the communities of life around them, are different. Videos of this exploration and its goals can be found Here.
I'll take the science over the symbolism, but there is something to be said about doing something really cool, even if it was mere symbolism. -LL