Journey to the end of the Earth, Explanation, Line by Line, Meaning of Difficult Words, Class 12  CBSE English  Moments Chapter 3


(Explanation and Meaning of difficult words)

Author – Tishani Doshi


Word Meaning
Aboard On or into a ship, train, plane etc.
Vessel Ship
Heading towards Moving or going towards

During the initial period of this year, I got into a Russian research ship. Name of this ship was Akademik Shokalskiy. This ship was going toward Antarctica. It is coldest, driest and windiest continent in the world.


We started from Madras. This city is now known as Chennai. Latitude of Chennai is 13.09 degrees north. It is to the north of Equator. [The Earth’s equator is an imaginary planetary line that runs around the globe. The equator divides the Earth into the Northern Hemisphere and Southern Hemisphere. Latitude of Equator is at 0 degrees, halfway the North Pole and South Pole.] We would be crossing nine time zones, six locations where checking of our ship would be done. We would be also be crossing three oceans and at least three ecospheres.



Word Meaning
Set foot Arrived, Reached
Facing Seeing, Looking
Expansive A very large area, Extensive
Landscape Scenery, Area of land
Uninterrupted Without any break
Relief Comfort
Profound Great, Very large

During my journey to Antarctica I had travelled by a car, an aeroplane and a ship. Total time of journey was 100 hours. When I reached there I saw a great area of white colour. At Antarctica ice never melts. Every piece of land is covered with ice. So the whole area looks white to the extent one can see. The sky is clear and of blue colour. I felt a great comfort to have reached such a beautiful area. The feeling of comfort immediately changed to a great wonder to see such a beautiful sight.



Word Meaning
Immensity Greatness
Isolation Separation, Being unconnected
Part of the same landmass Connected through land

I was surprised by the large size of the continent and that it was not connected to any other part of the land. I was puzzled by the belief that once upon a time India and Antarctica were connected through land.




Word Meaning
Giant Very big, Huge
Amalgamated Combined, Connected, United
Supercontinent Very big continent
Indeed Really

It is believed that about six hundred and fifty million years ago, a very big combined continent existed in the world. It was in the southern hemisphere of the world. Name of that continent was Gondwana. Through that continent India and Antarctica were connected. That continent was near Antarctica of this period.



Word Meaning
Hosting Supporting
Flora and fauna Plants and animals

During that time situation was very much different from that of the present time. During that time there were no human beings on the earth. The climate was very warm. The warm climate supported the plants and animals living on the earth.



Word Meaning
Thrived Prospered, Grew, Survived
Wiped out Obliterated, Eliminated, Became extinct
Mammals Living being whose babies drink milk of mother
Shaping Making, Creating

The Gondwana supercontinent survived for about 500 million years. Then dinosaurs stopped existing on the earth. During that time life of mammals started on the Earth. Owing to some events occurring in the nature, the Gondwana supercontinent got separated into several countries. Thus, the world as we see today was created. 



Word Meaning
To get a grasp To get an idea or an understanding

By visiting Antarctica one feels that one is part of this history of creation of the world. One can get an understanding of how human beings appeared on the earth and in which direction we are now moving.



Word Meaning
Evolution Development, Growth
Extinction Obliteration, Elimination
Pretty Very much, Quite
Mind-boggling Puzzling, Exciting, Startling

One can understand the importance of various geological and environmental changes. Some of these are about Cordilleran folds and pre-Cambrian granite shields and about ozone and carbon. One can also understand about development and extinction. When you start thinking that all this could happen in just one million years, it feels quite puzzling and startling.



Word Meaning
Jamming Applying force
Buckle Bend
Crust Upper surface
Drifting off Moving away
Circumpolar Moving around the poles
Frigid Very cold
Desolate Alone, Isolated

The author is asking us to imagine a situation.

The landmass of India starts moving in the north direction. So it generates a force on the landmass of Asia. The upper surface of Asia bends upwards to create one more Himalayas. South America starts moving away and joins North America. Very cold wind from poles start blowing in the Drake Passage. Because of these, the Antarctica becomes very cold and isolated from the other parts of the world. And now Antarctica is at the one of the poles of the Earth or at the end of the Earth.



Word Meaning
Worship To perform ‘pooja’, Reverence
Chilling Horrifying, Frightening
Prospect Possibility, Situation
Circulatory Refers to circulation of wind
Metabolic Refers to various activities of body

People living in South India worship Sun. In South India the climate is hot. [Author used to live in South India]. Therefore I was afraid to be in an area where 90 percent of total volume of Earth’s ice exists. Author wants to say that he was very afraid to stay in the cold environment of Antarctica. I was afraid of cold winds. I was also worried of the impact on my body and its functions. Even the imagination of living in such cold environment was frightening to me.



Word Meaning
Giant Very big
Devoid of Without, Total absence
Markers Indications
Billboards Signboards
Earthly sense Feeling of being on the earth
Perspective Thoughts, Opinion

I felt as if I was walking on the surface of something that was very big. I did not see any indication that human beings used to live there. I did not see trees, signboards or buildings. After reaching Antarctica, one loses all the feelings of being on the earth. One loses every thought and feeling of being on earth and of the time frame.



Word Meaning
Visual scale Variety seen
Microscopic Very small
Mighty Very big
Midges Insects that can fly
Mites Small insects not able to fly
Iceberg Large piece of ice floating in water

One can see things of various sizes here. One can see insects that are small in sizes and blue whales which are the largest animals on the earth. The floating ice in water is of very huge size. Area of the biggest iceberg seen here was equal to the area of Belgium. Belgium is a country whose area is 30689 square KM.



Word Meaning
Surreal Unusual, Strange
Austral Relating to southern hemisphere
Summer light Sun shine of summer season
Ubiquitous Everywhere, All over the place
Avalanche Rapid slide of snow
Calving Breaking at the edge
Consecrates To cause a difference, Set apart

The summer season at Antarctica is strange. The sun does not set. All the 24 hours of the day the sun shines. Everywhere there is silence. Sometimes snow slides and edges of floating sheets of ice break into the water. These are the only sound that can be heard on Antarctica. Such sounds break the strange silence of Antarctica.



Word Meaning
Immersion Adventure, Engagement
Context Reference
Prognosis Opinion, Prediction

To visit Antarctica is an adventure. It compels you to notice and understand the geological history of Earth. We the human beings should not make any opinion about the geological history of the Earth. We should understand it. Nor is it possible to make any prediction about the Earth.  



Word Meaning
Paltry Very small amount

Human beings have been living on the Earth since last 12000 years only. This period of time is very small if we compare it with the age of the Earth. The age of the Earth is many millions of years.



Word Meaning
Ruckus Commotion, Uproar, Disturbance
Etching Creating
Dominance Superiority, Supremacy
Megacities Very big cities

In this short period of 12000 years, human beings have caused lot of disturbance to nature. We have tried to create our supremacy over the nature through our villages, towns, cities and megacities. While creating facilities for themselves, human beings have damaged the ecology and environment of the Earth to a great extent.



Word Meaning
Rapid Quick
Battling Fighting, Competing
Unmitigated Increased
Fossil fuel Coal, Petrol, Natural Gas etc.
Blanket A thick layer

Population of the world is increasing at a fast pace. Natural resources available on the Earth are limited. Human beings as well as other species of the world are trying to use the larger share of these resources. Use of fossil fuels like coal, petrol etc. has increased. Owing to this, a thick layer of carbon dioxide has developed around the earth.  This is steadily increasing temperature of the globe.



Word Meaning
Hotly contested Strongly argued by all
Disrupted Stopped, Disturbed,

Impact on environment due to change in the climate of the earth is being very strongly argued. Several questions are being debated. Will all the ice of Antarctica completely melt? Will the movement of water through Gulf Stream get disturbed? Will the world end or get destroyed? These may happen or may not happen. Nobody is sure about such extreme impact.



Word Meaning
Either way In every situation
Crucial Important
Element Aspect
Sustained Supported
Pristine In original condition, Pure
Trapped Hidden, Confined

In every argument that is put forward about environment of the Earth, Antarctica is an important aspect. Its importance is not because it is the only part of the world where human beings have never lived. Because of this reason, it remains relatively pure and its original conditions are not disturbed. The Antarctica is important to the world because within its ice, old evidence about development of human beings are hidden. These are understood by a method called carbon dating. The age of such evidences could be nearly half a million years.



If we want to know about the past, present and future of the Earth, such studies should be done at Antarctica.  We may obtain enough evidences at Antarctica.



Word Meaning
Providing Making available
Foster Develop, Promote

The author was part of the programme ‘Students on Ice’. Author had travelled to Antarctica with some high school students on the ship Shokaskiy. The aim of this programme was to make available some new learning opportunities to students. Such programmes would inspire them and motivate them to develop a new understanding about our planet – the Earth. They would start respecting the Earth to protect its environment.



Word Meaning
Carting Transporting
Celebrities Famous or popular personalities
Curiosity-seekers Those who are eager, Adventurous

This programming has been running since past six years. Head of this programme is Geoff Green. His native country is Canada. Earlier he used to arrange transport for the people who wanted to travel for adventure. In this business he became rich. Those people were quite famous. But they gave back to society in very limited way. So he left his business and started the programme ‘Students on Ice’.



Geoff Green has designed the programme ‘Students on Ice’ for young students. They represent the future generation of the world. After some time they will become policy-makers. The experience gained through this programme changes thoughts of students. At the young age they are ready to understand, learn and also act. 



This programme is very successful. Author wants to say that it is very popular. Anyone who goes near the South Pole (Antarctica), gets impressed by its beauty and environment. It is all together a unique experience.



Word Meaning
Blasé about Unimpressed, Unaffected
Latitude and longitude Location of a place
Glacier A large mass of ice
Retreating Going back, Reducing

While sitting comfortably in your location, it is very easy to remain unaffected by the effects of melting of ice. This is because you have not seen it. But when you go to Antarctica, you can see that size of glaciers is reducing. You can also see that sheet of ice is breaking and falling into water. After observing these events, you realise that the threat of global warming is real. 



Word Meaning
Ecosystem Ecological and environmental system, Combination of plants and living beings in an area
Biodiversity Variety of plants in an area
Repercussions Consequence, Effect

The ecosystem of Antarctica is very simple. Variety of plants is very limited at Antarctica. Therefore it is easy to understand that even a small change in environment can have a big effect.



Word Meaning
Microscopic Very small in size
Phytoplankton Type of algae or grass of very small size
Nourish Feed
Assimilate Absorb
Synthesise Produce
Wondrous Wonderful
Photosynthesis Process through which plants absorb carbon gases and sunlight to produce nutrients for themselves

Consider the example of phytoplankton. It is a type of algae and small plants that grow in water of Antarctica. All the living beings feed on this grass. Through phytoplankton the entire food chain of Antarctica is sustained. Phytoplankton are made up of one cell only. In the presence of water and sunlight they absorb carbon compounds.  Through a wonderful and most important process of photosynthesis, they produce food for all living beings.   



Word Meaning
Further More
Depletion Reduction
Marine animals Animals living in water

The scientists have issued a warning.  If more reduction in ozone layer is caused, the activities of phytoplankton will be adversely affected. Such situation will disturb the lives of all animals living in water and of birds in Antarctica. It will also disturb the carbon cycle of the entire world.



Word Meaning
Parable Story
Metaphor A phrase used to express similarity
Fall into place Become satisfactory, Get organised

The story of phytoplankton has a similarity with a saying. If one takes care of small aspects, the bigger aspects also start becoming satisfactory.



Word Meaning
Epiphanies Understandings, Realizations

During my journey to Antarctica and stay at Antarctica I understood many new important things. Author wants to say that he had several experiences for the first time in his life. But the best experience was when they were at the latitude of 65.55 degree south. At that time they were very near to Antarctic Circle.



Word Meaning
To wedge into To force into
Peninsula Land area surrounded by water on three sides
Island Land area surrounded by water on all sides

Our ship Shokalskiy had forced itself into a thick layer of ice. This was between a peninsula and tadpole island. Our ship was not able to move forward because sheet of ice was very thick.



Word Meaning
Turn around Turn back
Gangplank A wooden platform of stairs used for getting down from a ship
Kitted out Wearing
Gore-Tex A brand that makes water proof clothes
Glares Googles
Stark Pure, Complete

The captain of the ship realised that it was not possible to move forward. So he decided to turn the ship to go back in north direction. But before going back, we were instructed to climb down on the sheet of ice. We wore water proof clothes of Gore-Tex brand. We wore our antiglare goggles. Then through the gangplank we climbed down from the ship onto the ice. It was actually an ocean whose water had frozen.




Word Meaning
Underneath Below
In the periphery All round the nearby area
Crab-eater seals Type of seal (an animal) that live on Antarctica
Stretching Relaxing
Sunning Sitting in the sun rays to get warmth
Ice floes A sheet of floating ice
Revelation Something understood for the first time

We were standing on ice. Thickness of ice was about one metre. Below the sheet of ice, depth water was about 180 metres. It was salty water where several animals, insects, plants, algae etc lived. All around us in the nearby areas, we saw that Crab-eater seals were relaxing. These were sitting in the sunrays to get warmth. The sheet of ice we were standing was not stationary. It was a floating big mass of ice. The seals were sitting almost everywhere. This can be compared with stray dogs sitting in the shade of a tree. Everything we saw was a new aspect or knowledge for us. Everything that we saw was a discovery for us. All the activities around Antarctica are somehow related to one of the situations prevailing there.



During this journey I have travelled across nine time zones, six checkpoints, three oceans and many ecospheres. But I am still puzzled how beautifully nature balances everything in this world. 



Word Meaning
Mammoths Type of large animal that is extinct now
Woolly rhinos Type of large animal that is extinct  now

Try to imagine what would happen if Antarctica again becomes as warm as it used to be millions of years ago. Author is not sure the human beings will survive if Antarctica becomes a warm place. We may become extinct just like dinosaurs, mammoths and woolly rhinos. Author says that no one in this world is sure about survival of human beings.



Word Meaning
Bunch Group
Idealism A perfect thought

Author has spent about two weeks with a group of teenagers. He feels that these teenagers want to save the world from destruction. He admires their thoughts. A million years is a very long period of time. Lot of changes can happen in this period. But experience and happiness of just one day can make lot of difference to many people of this world. 



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