It was in late January of 1820 that Russian and then British ships spotted Antarctica.
Those were the first sightings of the continent, at least in modern history.
There’s evidence that Māori travelers may have been there as early as the 600s.
Today, there are numerous research stations in Antarctica, though living there even today can be very different from life in the rest of the world.
For example, there’s a settlement called Villas Las Estrellas that requires anyone living or working there to have their appendix out.
Villas Las Estrellas is part of a base run by Chile on King George Island.
In the Antarctic summer there are close to 100 scientists, staff and families.
Yes, in some cases those who work on the base can bring their families with them.
That’s why Villas Las Estrellas has a small school.
There’s also a bank, a post office and of course workspaces and living quarters.
But there aren’t a lot of other amenities or even what many of us would call necessities in other parts of the world.
That’s why they have the rule about having your appendix out beforehand.
While there are medical facilities, they’re for basic needs.
A patient facing anything serious or life-threatening, like, say, appendicitis, would have to be sent to the nearest hospital, thousands of miles away.
There’s no way to get a patient in the community to an operating room quickly enough to get the appendix out in time.
If nobody there has an appendix, they figure that solves the problem.
And, in fact, a lot of the public health policies in Villas Las Estrellas are preventative.
Like how in the Antarctic winter, basically it’s too cold for anyone to go outside. At all.
No surprise that the 30,000 or so visitors to Villas Las Estrellas each year tend to come in the summer.
If you’re in Washington DC, you still have time to get to the Zenith Gallery for the new exhibit of art featuring TV comedy legend Betty White.
There are Betty White paintings, sculptures, jewelry and more.
The gallery calls the show “Betty White Unites!” because who doesn’t like Betty White?
Photo by Tak via Flickr/Creative Commons