Fragile Oasis

Connecting Space and Earth: Learn. Act. Make a Difference.

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Featureless Humans Are Still Human

All 8 of our expedition members work closely together on a daily basis. Each morning we gather at 9:00 (New Zealand time) and go off in search of meteorites. By 18:00 we are usually back in camp after spending the day in temperatures of -20ÂșC with wind chill of -40. Shortly there after, we all disappear into our respective tents.

Every square inch of our body is typically covered as protection from the 20 plus kilometer per hour winds. Faces sport balaclavas and ski goggles with an integral hard faceplate, giving one the appearance of a cold Darth Vader. Even your voice, muffled and windblown, becomes as abstract as that from an android. All the normal features associated with being an individual human are thus removed. We can go for days, or sometimes weeks, without seeing the pinky human faces of your colleagues. The exception is your tentmate, whom you might consider that you get an eye full of their pinky flesh all too often.

In spite of these seemingly de-humanizing circumstances, your mind has the uncanny ability to visually dissect these featureless creatures and assign rich and distinctive human traits. One can pick up an individual, not from the parka-puffy potato sack body, or the Darth Vader garb, but from subtle dynamics in how the body moves. There are accents in motion that are as individualist as intonation in speech. And like a blind person who enhances auditory cues, your searching mind quickly fixes on details that usually go unnoticed. And we all seem to be able to once again add the human individual back into our little masked microcosm.