NEVER REST AT THE EVEREST!


Another heroic human effort at climbing the peaks of scientific knowledge is underlined by the creation of the world’s highest laboratory by a team of scientists who have not only taken the dare to climb Mount Everest, but also to do studies on how the human body behaves in low-oxygen states.
The scientists are keeping a blog of their daily activities and sending it online from as high as 8000m above civilisation, yet another benefit of the information revolution!
Among the many fascinating things one learns is that computer hard disks fail at 4,500 m above sea level, and so these guys have specially designed hard disks. Cool!
At the summit, or just below it, the scientists took blood samples from the femoral artery and were astonished to discover arterial oxygen levels lower than what they had seen even in sick intensive-care patients. Another example of how the human body takes it to a higher level in adversity!
I would like to highlight here the tremendous role played in all this by the Sherpas, the local Tibetan mountain climbers. It is funny how I, like many, always thought Sherpas were Nepalis. These men, who have a reputation for being gentle and loyal, have carried huge pieces of equipment and gear on their backs and climbed all the way up the camps. They have also carried the blood samples from near the summit to the labs. Now just imagine if the Sherpa, carrying the box, slipped and lost the blood samples, how successful the whole expedition would have been! And who do you think is doing the manual job of clearing the Base Camp of the tons of garbage that have accumulated over years?

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