I’ve written previously on my fascination with Antarctica; so it’s with tremendous pleasure that I link to this essay by Maciej Ceglowski on scurvy and Robert F. Scott’s doomed 1911 expedition to the South Pole. Even though it’s telling a single story – how and why the cure for scurvy was found, lost, and discovered again – it synthesizes science, history, military strategy, public health, and brilliant writing. It also contains this gem:
“Eat a bear liver every few weeks and scurvy will be the least of your problems.”
I stumbled across this essay last night and let my dinner grow cold while I read it to the end. Ceglowski is a talented writer (see also his excellent rant on the space shuttle), and reading this dissection of knowledge and hubris is a joy.