Fridtjof Nansen (1861 -1930) was born in what is now Oslo. He can be described as a typical Renaissance person with wide interests and accomplishments. He was a pioneer of skiing for leisure and sport and he was an innovative scientist in several disciplines. He studied zoology at Bergen Museum, joining a sealing voyage off Greenland in 1882 as part of his studies. During this voyage he noticed driftwood and earth in the sea ice which he was later to associate with the theory of an east-west current across the Arctic Ocean. His doctoral thesis in 1888 was on the structure of the central nervous system shown through studies of lower forms of marine animal life.
Nansen was inspired by his trip off Greenland to investigate the unknown interior. His plan was to cross the ice cap from the uninhabited east coast to the west under the motto “The west coast or death”! The expedition with five others in 1888 started badly, when a short journey to shore had them caught in the ice and carried 380 km southwards.When they finally reached the shore they had to row back north against the current to find a suitable place to cross.The six-week crossing ended in an unplanned wintering in Godthaab/Nuuk. During this winter Nansen learned all he could about the Inuit adaptation to life in the Arctic.
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