An Archive of 10,000-Year-Old Ice Cores Partially Melted Thanks to a Broken Freezer


Freezers are a miracle of modernity, a testament to how humans can forge the world as we see fit. Guava juice in Idaho? No problem—until these machines break. Then, fuck freezers. Fuck freezers for melting my Melona bars, and fuck freezers for spoiling the steak I was going to treat myself with.

And fuck the freezer at the University of Alberta, which broke down and melted a bunch of ice cores in an archive that contains samples from 10,000 years ago. Researchers were storing them in order to study climate change, according to a university announcement on Thursday. That is not chill.

“We can confirm that 12.8 per cent of the ice core samples were damaged due to partial melting,” a university statement reads. “The loss of any ice core sample is deeply disappointing to the University of Alberta and to our research teams, who plan to use this ice to answer important questions about climate change and our planet’s history.”

Obviously, this is a loss, and it’s not the first time a freezer has gone and screwed things up royally for researchers, either. In 2012, a freezer containing brain tissue samples at the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center went on the fritz, thawing almost 150 stored brains, an event that researchers at the time said would slow the pace of autism research.

The Canadian freezer has been restored, according to the University of Alberta, and an investigation into what went wrong is ongoing. Not much more is known beyond that, and the university will be releasing more information on Thursday afternoon.

Man, what a bummer.

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