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Dr. Marion Dierickx is an experimental cosmologist, studying the history of the universe. That research doesn’t bring her in contact with space, but rather a place with similar margins of survival: Antarctica, where she typically goes once a year to maintain work research equipment.

"It’s a thousand miles away from the coast, so there are no penguins, there are strictly no wildlife to be seen. In fact, the smallest living being there is whoever is the smallest person on your crew," she says.

Along with her colleagues, Dierickx spends three months at a base that rests atop two miles of ice. The extreme cold makes it so dry you wake up most mornings with a nosebleed. And an altitude made up of 70% oxygen makes it hard to sleep.

Then there’s the isolation ...

Experimental cosmologist Marion Dierickx talks from self-isolation in Cambridge, Massachusetts to discuss what yearly work trips to Antarctica taught her about preparedness, survival and isolation.