Tracing the perilous history Antarctic expeditions

This image taken by passenger Andrew Peacock on December 29, 2013 shows a thin fresh coat of snow on the trapped ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy as it waits to be rescued.

Off Antarctica, three icebreakers have so far failed to make it through to a Russian ship trapped in the ice since Christmas Eve. It's a research ship with 74 scientists, some tourists, and crew.  Everyone's fine, but now they're waiting for a break in the weather so a helicopter can get through.

Ben Maddison an historian on the ship, and is retracing the voyage of Australian explorer Douglas Mawson who ran into big trouble in the Antarctic a hundred years ago. That's the one where the expedition members had to eat their sleddogs and learned the fatal consequences of injesting concentrations of vitamin A in dog's liver. Our interest is the economic incentives for that famous famous but tragic expedition.

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About the author

David Brancaccio is the host of Marketplace Morning Report. Follow David on Twitter @DavidBrancaccio

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