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Tubegazing: Arctic Passage

If you think you know cold weather, think again. Tune into NOVA's "Arctic Passage," a two-hour special detailing just how remote and unforgiving endless snow and cold can really be, and you'll never moan about frozen toes again. The show follows the trips of two of the world's most famous polar explorers - Sir John Franklin and Roald Amundsen - and their respective failure and success in forging an east-west route through Arctic waters. At the very least, it is a fascinating cautionary tale about human arrogance in the face of the unknown. Franklin was an experienced explorer, determined to forge a northern route from England to the Orient. He mounted an expedition with massive remodeled warships, 134 men, and the latest technology, including England's newest invention, canned food. New examination of old clues has shown that the huge ships foundered in the ice, and many of the men died of lead poisoning, contracted from the lead solder used to seal the canned food. Once the men left the trapped ships, they were weighed down by nearly a ton of supplies and no tools for surviving on the icy plains. Amundsen, who studied the failures of Franklin's final journey, did everything differently. He sailed light in a small sealer boat with a crew of seven men, spent two years with the Inuit learning to travel and survive in the snow, and was rewarded by pushing through to the other side. Grade: A

Arctic Passage
PBS Tuesday, Feb. 28, 8:00 p.m.

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