from Sunday Herald, 23 December 2001
High on Observation Hill, at the edge of the screaming white Antarctic wilderness, stands a weathered wooden cross. On it is carved a line from a poem: "To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield".
Just a few sparse words, amidst such vast spaces, attempting to encapsulate the noble essence of exploration. The poem, by Alfred Lord Tennyson, is about one of the world's original explorers, Ulysses - and the cross is a memorial to the tragic death of Captain Scott and his four companions on their way back from the South Pole in 1912.
Something extraordinary does drive people like Scott, and his modern day equivalents. It is about striving, seeking, finding and not giving up: a heady mixture of curiosity, courage and the thrill of discovery. But it can also be about a morass of other, sometimes less honourable, motives: patriotism, imperialism, egotism, even insecurity.