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Oct. 10, 1861: The Journey Begins for Nansen

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Oct. 10, 1861: The Journey Begins for Nansen
1861: Fridtjof Nansen is born. He will become a towering figure in Arctic exploration, the natural sciences and international diplomacy. Nansen, born outside of Oslo, Norway, grew up hard and fit … and intellectually curious. He developed an early interest in science and studied zoology at the university before shipping aboard the Norwegian sealer Viking in 1882.He made extensive observations of the Greenland fauna, especially bears and seals, and returned to serve for six years as zoological curator at the Bergen Museum — meanwhile earning his doctorate by defending the neuron theory as it pertains to the central nervous system. But Fridtjof Nansen also returned with a passion for the Far North and an unquenchable thirst for adventure.Nansen returned to Greenland in 1888, skiing from east to west across the interior's massive ice fields. The trek yielded new scientific information about the frozen island, but it also served as a dress rehearsal for Nansen's attempt, in 1893, to reach the North Pole. Sailing into the Arctic Ocean aboard his purpose-built ship, Fram, Nansen realized it would be impossible to reach the pole in any way but by foot.He left the Fram in the pack ice at 84 degrees 4 minutes north latitude and, accompanied by Hjalmar Johansen, struck out for the pole with skis, dogs, sledges and kayaks. On April 9, 1895, the two men reached 86 degrees 14 minutes north latitude before turning back. It was, at the time, the farthest north any explorer...

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