This winter warrior made the gravitational waves discovery possible

Engineer Steffen Richter wintered in the South Pole to keep the BICEP2 telescope running

By Andrew Grant, 12:39 PM March 28, 2014

The wind chill is −80° Celsius when Steffen Richter, donning a red parka, hops on a snowmobile and heads to work. Lighting his path are the stars, a sliver of moon and the faint green glow of the aurora australis, the southern lights.

It’s the kind of day that might make him miss home — but Boston is nearly 15,000 kilometers away, and no pilot would dare fly anywhere near Richter’s location for months. Plus, the Harvard engineer has a job to do. Hitched to Richter’s snowmobile is a vat of liqu...

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