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Where should Captain Scott's support parties have turned back?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 March 2018

Björn Lantz
Affiliation:
Associate Professor, Technology Management and Economics, Chalmers University of Technology, 412 96 Gothenburg, Sweden (bjorn.lantz@chalmers.se)
Corresponding
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Abstract

Captain Robert Falcon Scott's plan for the attempt to reach the South Pole during the Terra Nova Expedition was to use horses, motorised sledges and dog teams to lay depots on the Ross Ice Shelf to advance the effective starting point for the three man-hauling groups to the foot of the Beardmore Glacier. His idea was that two of the groups would turn back after two and four weeks, after depositing supplies for the final polar party to rely on during the return journey. In this paper, the logic of the mathematical ‘jeep problem’ is applied to derive the theoretically optimal points at which the support parties should have turned back in order to optimise the relationship between distance and consumption of supplies. The results show that, according to this model, Scott took both his support parties along too far, especially the last support party under Lieutenant E.R.G.R. ‘Teddy’ Evans.

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Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2018 

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