Polar Scientists

Polar Scientists

Alisa Opar
Published: 06/24/2010


Tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death. I was in the Arctic when he died, at Toolik Field Station with a hundred or so researchers and nine other journalists. To mark the King of Pop’s passing, a couple dozen folks took part in what might be the northernmost performance of Thriller, at Toolik Field Station, North Slope, Alaska.

Here’s how the tribute came together:

At the "One Glove, One Love" Michael Jackson memorial bonfire the Saturday after Jackson died, some of the younger scientists expressed their surprise that none of thejournalists in camp had come to them for a reaction quote to the King of Pop's death. We journalists had been thinking about melting permafrost and carbon sinks all day. But looking around at the 40 or 50 people, most gripping a drink in their one gloved hand (the gloves ranged from the blue latex lab variety to ski mittens), it was obvious that MJ's death had struck a chord in this group. Jackson's songs played in the background...and the discussion and the music inspired Toolik's tribute to Jackson: the northernmost 'Thriller' dance ever.

(In case you're wondering, the flying objects that keep hitting the screen are mosquitoes, and the dancers are all wearing mosquito nets.)