Dome C and the Universe
Concordia Station is a joint French-Italian base located atop Dome C. The top of this ice dome is 3200 m above the continental crust. The station resembles a Mars Base, or the twin Keck telescopes atop Mauna Kea. This is an ideal place to study solid Earth geophysics, magnetism, the ozone hole and many other phenomena. We can also study the human factors of setting up a base in a remote location. This photo is courtesy of Concordia, because it gets dark down here!
This is also the ideal place to build a telescope. Dare I admit this is a better site than Mauna Kea. The altitude and extremely dry air create the best atmospheric conditions on Earth. Dome C has as many clear days each year as the Big Island of Hawaii. Thanks to the long nights down here, astronomers could enjoy weeks of continuous viewing. Getting to Antarctica is expensive, but far cheaper than putting telescopes in Space.
Two groups of researchers studied Type Ia supernovae and found that their redshifts appear to be accelerating. Redshift is approximately equal to v/c, the ratio between velocity and the speed of light. Since c was assumed constant (and talk of a changing c was shut out), they concluded that the Universe was accelerating due to an unseen "dark energy". This led to a great deal of attention in the theoretical community, though DE has not gained traction among the wider public.
Flush with their success, the researchers planned a space mission, a Supernova Acceleration Probe. This would be a 2-meter infrared telescope located at L2, on the opposite side of the Moon. Start saving your pennies, for it would take 1000 Shaw prizes to pay for one SNAP mission. In the current climate, funding would be unlikely. Since you all know about c change, how many taxpayers wish to fund a dark energy mission?
Antarctica offers a place where we can study the cosmos without the expense and difficulty of putting telescopes in Space. Thanks to adaptive optics, an instrument here could have better resolution than the Hubble. A large telescope could gather far more light than any conceivable space mission. Even in the infared, this is the best observing spot on Earth.
Those who promote "dark energy" are friends and I wish them all success. Ultimately we have a responsibility to make discoveries that please the public at a reasonable cost. A changing c is a possibility that needs to be addressed. Discoveries of this magnitude reflect well on all of science.
Below is an artist's concept of HALLEY VI, the new British base. The buildings will be on skis so the whole base is mobile. The interior will have skylights, comfortable lounges, and many comforts of home. Though the dark of Antarctica is not in the glare of publicity, science moves forward.