“For certain, I will never forget where I was on New Years Day, January 1,2000,” Larry Hothem recently e-mailed Eos from Antarctica. Hothem, who heads up the U.S. Geological Surveys (USGS) geodetic team that is deployed annually to the McMurdo Station-South Pole region, that morning was piling a stake into the ice above the most recent and most accurate location of the mean South Pole (the Earth's mean axis of rotation).

At midnight, a makeshift band played, and several hundred scientists, construction workers, and support staff who normally devote their time to important research efforts and keeping the station operating smoothly sipped champagne in the −26°C temperature. At 4:30 a.m. local time, the revelers already had been awake for more than 22 hours as Hothem pounded in the marker and the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) aired the event live.