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View Full Version : Astrophysicist's South Pole Death Remains a Mystery After Eight Years



Fraser
2008-Sep-26, 07:50 PM
In May 2000, Australian astrophysicist Dr Rodney David Marks died from acute methanol poisoning whilst stationed at the US Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. He was a 32 year old "brilliant and witty" scientist, whose death shocked his family and friends. The media jumped on this story, citing the tragedy as the "first South Pole murder," [...]

More... (http://www.universetoday.com/2008/09/26/astrophysicists-south-pole-death-remains-a-mystery-after-eight-years/)

KaiYeves
2008-Sep-26, 09:32 PM
Creepy...

01101001
2008-Sep-26, 09:58 PM
Maybe he couldn't take the weather, as illustrated in the 1-minute video (http://view.break.com/487339) in BA Blog: But baby itís cold outside (http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2008/09/26/but-baby-its-cold-outside/).

Blowy!

Jeff Root
2008-Sep-27, 03:34 AM
Sounds to me like he may have been conducting a really-poorly-thought-out
experiment on keeping warm biochemically.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

JonClarke
2008-Sep-27, 09:09 AM
By many accounts the NSF and its contactors likes to think Antarctica their personal fifedom and do not take kindly to outsiders sticking their noses in. even when they are the proper authorities.

Jon

Jerry
2008-Sep-27, 05:25 PM
He would not be the only person at a lonely outpost who mistakenly consumed methanol. Sometimes something that looks like a tragic accident is just that.

cjameshuff
2008-Sep-27, 09:38 PM
He would not be the only person at a lonely outpost who mistakenly consumed methanol. Sometimes something that looks like a tragic accident is just that.

Considering the enclosed environment, methanol vapor poisoning does not seem unlikely.

Warren Platts
2008-Sep-27, 10:10 PM
Sounds like he was a junkie. He figured the South Pole was a good place to go cold turkey. He had no heroin, so he was jonesing real bad. So he figured he'd inject a little methanol.

JonClarke
2008-Sep-28, 03:15 AM
Sounds like he was a junkie. He figured the South Pole was a good place to go cold turkey. He had no heroin, so he was jonesing real bad. So he figured he'd inject a little methanol.

I doubt that a junkie would pass the extremely rigorous tests required for wintering over personnel. Also the coroner would have undercovered evidence of him being one.

Jon

Warren Platts
2008-Sep-28, 11:24 AM
I doubt that a junkie would pass the extremely rigorous tests required for wintering over personnel.
Yeah, like the diaper lady from NASA. ;)


Also the coroner would have undercovered evidence of him being one.

Jon

The doctor who first examined him found needle tracks on the guys arm, and described Mark as "nervous, anxious and upset," all psychological symptoms associated with a severe jones.

JonClarke
2008-Oct-01, 05:40 AM
Indeed. But there are other explanations for such such signs and symptoms as well.

The facts are that Mark had no reported history of drug abuse. No evidence for it was reported by the autopsy. No sign of it in the extensive pre expedition investigations which screen people very, very carefully. The chance of a past or present IV drug user wintering over at the South Pole are probably about the same as one becoming an astronaut.

He died of methanol poisoning, not IV drugs. Thy could have been self administered, accidently adminstered, or malicously administered. In the first case the base crew should have identified a problem and manged it better. In the second there is and OH&S problem that could endanger others, in the third there is a murder out there why may well winter over again. This is what makes the lack of cooperation with the inquiry by the NSF very serious.

Jon

astrolover
2008-Oct-02, 04:15 AM
there is more to this than meets the eye. unfortunately it is suppressed in new zealand where the inquest took place.
affidavits given to the police/coroner state that the doctor treating rodney self medicated with the base supply of morphine and ketamine. he also offered these to others at the base for recreational use. rodney did not take these. the doctor probably tried to cover up his own illegal use of drugs under his supervision by claiming rod had needle marks. doctor made marks. us marshal later ordered that the empty drug vials/containers, found by doctors bed, be destroyed.
does that make things a little clearer??

01101001
2008-Oct-02, 04:27 AM
Welcome to BAUT Forum.


does that make things a little clearer??

And your evidence for all this is...

astrolover
2008-Oct-02, 04:58 AM
i was in court

01101001
2008-Oct-02, 05:44 AM
i was in court

Show us the documentation.

astrolover
2008-Oct-02, 06:35 AM
i will post a link next week to an article. like i said. evidence is only under a suppression order in nz. dont take my word for it. see article next week!

Warren Platts
2008-Oct-02, 12:30 PM
there is more to this than meets the eye. unfortunately it is suppressed in new zealand where the inquest took place.
affidavits given to the police/coroner state that the doctor treating rodney self medicated with the base supply of morphine and ketamine. he also offered these to others at the base for recreational use. rodney did not take these. the doctor probably tried to cover up his own illegal use of drugs under his supervision by claiming rod had needle marks. doctor made marks. us marshal later ordered that the empty drug vials/containers, found by doctors bed, be destroyed.
does that make things a little clearer??
Fascinating. So it looks like the doctor gave Rodney a hot shot of methanol. Why though? Did Rodney threaten to rat him out? Did Rod owe the doctor some money? And how would Rodney find out about it unless he was in on it too?

astrolover
2008-Oct-04, 02:26 AM
due to publication prohibition, you will need to order the newspaper. details of this story have been published today (saterday 4th october) by "the age" a melbourne based newspaper. main paper for that city. they are not allowed to put online due to new zealand prohibition. so, sorry i cannot send link as there is no link to send! fyi, if you are interested enough to order a copy, story is on page 11.

Warren Platts
2008-Oct-04, 04:15 AM
due to publication prohibition, you will need to order the newspaper. details of this story have been published today (saterday 4th october) by "the age" a melbourne based newspaper. main paper for that city. they are not allowed to put online due to new zealand prohibition. so, sorry i cannot send link as there is no link to send! fyi, if you are interested enough to order a copy, story is on page 11.Oh come on, astrolover! This is great stuff, and we on the other side of the world have enquiring minds. Can't you type in a few tidbits for us? Or at least tell us the main gist of the article? Please? :)

astrolover
2008-Oct-04, 07:02 AM
its a rather large article. it does center around the issues raised in my original post. the article includes names ect and the usual fluff ie southpole descriptions, corny catch phrases. but it does confirm the original post. it also names the person who gave the evidence. oh, it describes malfunctioning medical equipment and issues around substandard medical treatment provided.

Warren Platts
2008-Oct-04, 12:26 PM
http://www.stuff.co.nz/4704605a11.html


"It could well be that he thought he had consumed ethanol from laboratory sources but in fact had consumed methanol," the coroner wrote in his findings.

It was suspected "moonshine" was produced at the base and there was a possibility this could contain methanol.

Drinking it could also have come about "through a third person's actions, either in the form of a prank or with a more sinister motive. There is no evidence before the Coroner's Court to support this theory," the findings said.

...

The coroner said base physician Dr Robert Thompson did not diagnose the methanol poisoning and "failed to carry out certain diagnostic checks".

"They would have been helpful in narrowing the diagnostic possibilities but would not have necessarily changed the ultimate outcome," he said.

Thompson also failed to investigate recent needle tracks in Marks' arm, "which could have led to vital information on his treatment of the patient".

However, the coroner's findings said it was unlikely Marks injected the methanol and no other drugs were present in his system.

He was known to smoke cannabis and to have used heroin, but friends said they had never seen him use it when he was on the Ice.

BigDon
2008-Oct-04, 10:06 PM
And herion use isn't automatically I.V. drug use.

Especially among casual users. There are a lot of ways to "chase the dragon" that don't require main lining the drug. Oh believe me when I say I take an extreme position on this when I find out one of the young men I associate with reveils he has been "chipping" and/or "skin popping".

Warren Platts
2008-Oct-04, 11:13 PM
And herion use isn't automatically I.V. drug use.

Especially among casual users. There are a lot of ways to "chase the dragon" that don't require main lining the drug. Oh believe me when I say I take an extreme position on this when I find out one of the young men I associate with reveils he has been "chipping" and/or "skin popping".
Exactly! If they're smart--and all astrophysicists are smart--they don't reveal themselves. Never trust a junky. :sad:

astrolover
2008-Oct-09, 03:59 AM
here is that link i was telling you about. it appears it made it online after all. if interested, one needs to pay for article (small fee). keep in mind, no drugs or metabolites of drugs were found in rodney mark's system.

http://newsstore.fairfax.com.au/apps/newsSearch.ac?page=1&sy=nstore&kw=criticised&pb=none&dt=selectRange&dr=1month&so=relevance&sf=text&sf=headline&rc=10&rm=200&sp=nrm&clsPage=1&rc=10&rs=31

astrolover
2008-Oct-09, 06:00 AM
Oh come on, astrolover! This is great stuff, and we on the other side of the world have enquiring minds. Can't you type in a few tidbits for us? Or at least tell us the main gist of the article? Please? :)

find out more here...http://newsstore.fairfax.com.au/apps/newsSearch.ac?page=1&sy=nstore&kw=criticised&pb=none&dt=selectRange&dr=1month&so=relevance&sf=text&sf=headline&rc=10&rm=200&sp=nrm&clsPage=1&rc=10&rs=31