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A Very Arctic Science Tribute to Michael Jackson

I’m finally back from my adventures at the Toolik Field Station in northern Alaska. Rather than formal parting thoughts, it seemed more appropriate to give readers a sense of what environmental scientists do for fun when the nearest watering hole or movie theater is a 350-mile drive down the Dalton Highway. Everybody at camp works incredibly hard (perhaps all universities should simulate midnight sun streaming through their lab windows–it clearly helps to keep students working ’til the wee hours of the morning). But during their few hours of down time, they get incredibly creative. The following video came as a challenge from one summer researcher during Toolik’s “One Glove, One Love,” Michael Jackson tribute party, which incidentally featured a lot of nicely decorated left-handed lab gloves. She asked the reporters that had infiltrated camp why we hadn’t asked the researchers for reaction quotes following MJ’s death. Fair enough. There’s no reason only celebrities should have an opinion. Soon after, she threw down the gauntlet: if the camp puts on their own production of Thriller, would we broadcast it? Well, here’s what happens when you mix scientists, a few reporters, MJ, and the worst mosquito swarm seen on camp during my two weeks at Toolik.


  • Jul 6th 200912:07
    by sarah

    Brilliant! How long did they practice to get the zombie walk coordinated? I especially love the fly masks… and fly cameos…

  • Jul 6th 200912:07
    by Mary Ellen Cosentino

    Everyone in HR loved this!

  • Jul 6th 200912:07
    by Lisa Jarvis

    So the plan was concocted on a Saturday night, and there were two practices (one well attended, one brief and small) before the actual filming, with some last-minute walk-ons. Full disclosure: some journalists participated… we did practice on the side of the Dalton highway on our drive up to Prudhoe Bay to see the Arctic Ocean. The caribou seemed entertained.

  • Jul 6th 200915:07
    by Carmen Drahl

    Awesome. The video claims to be the northernmost production of “Thriller”.. how’d they verify that? All I can say is that South Pole-based researchers are gonna have to step it up.

  • Jul 7th 200912:07
    by Lisa Jarvis

    Well, I’m not sure that claim can be verified. The attitude is if the folks up at Barrow or in Tromso or anywhere else north have organized, take us to task! As for the South Pole, a lot of folks working at Toolik have spent time at McMurdo, our major station in Antarctica, and think they could be up to the task of producing the southernmost production…

  • Jul 7th 200919:07
    by Ashok Kumar Nanjundan

    Incredible dance moves. Long live the King in our hearts.

  • Jul 8th 200913:07
    by Megan

    Oh this is great!!! I love all the mosiquitos flying all around and everyone in net gear. Awesome!!! good job everyone!

  • [...] – a Tribute to Michael Jackson and I got a huge giggle out of it. Take note of the skeeters!!!! A Very Arctic Science Tribute to Michael Jackson at C&ENtral Science __________________ Jennifer / Eeyore is my favorite!! Here we are in Hawaii!!!! Click for Alaska [...]

  • Jul 8th 200914:07
    by RBaldwin

    Dude! Awesome! We are all connected! Thank you for posting. May your summer be productive. R.

  • Jul 8th 200915:07
    by Linda Casey

    Bless your hearts! A wonderful tribute to the King of Pop…Alaska style.

  • Jul 8th 200916:07
    by Curtis smith

    Great job! You guys are not only creative, you’re good!

  • Jul 8th 200916:07
    by Kim

    By far, THEE BEST TRIBUTE to MJ. A standing ovation to you all, and BRAVO to the brave person who organized, choreographed, and ensured the scientists rehearsed it! As a former dance choreographer to teen girl dance/performance squads (no need to explain further), this was most impressive!

  • Jul 8th 200916:07
    by Jane Brackney

    From the GI in Fairbanks, you guys ROCK!!!

  • Jul 8th 200920:07
    by Dani

    I absolutely love this video! Scientists as dancers! Cute, cute cute!

  • Jul 8th 200923:07
    by Sparks

    Comment from near San Francisco, CA

    What a treat. Thanks so much. I remember Michael as a little kid with his brothers. What a great tribute!

  • Jul 8th 200923:07
    by Mandy

    Nice job – it was fun to watch!

  • Pingback

    Jul 9th 200900:07
    by Arctic Thriller « Alaskan Insider

    [...] Read more about this crazy bunch of Alaskan folks. [...]

  • Jul 9th 200901:07
    by Jean J

    The creative Toolik folks are at it again! This was the best!–no snow, just great zombies, the midnight sun, the moutains and of course the mosquitoes (not flies as someone commented.) Great to see the scientific use of lab gloves, mosquitoe hats and high boots. Brought back lots of memories.

  • Jul 9th 200901:07
    by Jean J

    Typo – should be mosquito without the e

  • Jul 9th 200908:07
    by Bobbi

    what serendipity to recv this link. My brother spent a few seasons up there years back along with his wife, so now I finally know what they were up to! Delightful!

  • Jul 9th 200908:07
    by Karen L Bailey

    he would have loved it!!

  • Jul 9th 200911:07
    by Sandra Boatwright

    Hey folks that was GREAT!

  • Jul 9th 200912:07
    by Scott Mears

    Fantastic!!! Terrific performance, all while under attack from carnivorous flying creatures…thanks for the smile!

  • Jul 9th 200913:07
    by Suzette Stachow

    UAF/Civil & Environmental Engineering

    I knew you did more than research in the field. You guys can really bust a move. Everyone is trying to moonwalk down the halls of Duckering. BRAVO

  • Jul 9th 200913:07
    by sandy jefko

    How funny! Alaskans are creative. Glad to see they got their net gear on – the mosquitos are merciless up north!!

  • Jul 9th 200914:07
    by howiesue

    hilarious! great dance moves! love to see what those crazy grad students get up to in their spare time!

  • Jul 9th 200914:07
    by BBB

    I hesitated to link to this from my usually serious blog on law and science in the Arctic http://arctic-healy-baker-2008.blogspot.com/2009/07/week-of-july-6-lavrov-and-clinton-to.html, but who could resist? Evidently, not even Nature.com’s blog! : http://blogs.nature.com/news/thegreatbeyond/2009/07/arctic_scientists_in_northernm.html

    Keep up the good work and good fun.

  • Jul 9th 200917:07
    by pattyb

    Wonderful job! I suggest someone send it to Jackson’s kids and let them start learning geography of the north! Who knows what celebrity will finally get people’s attention about northern issues. I love the bugs and the enthusiasm. Who was the most well-versed in the moves so he/she could teach everyone?

  • Jul 9th 200920:07
    by DAV

    Those mosquitoes are always stealing the center of attention! Great job friends.

  • Jul 10th 200912:07
    by Phyllis Jones

    Zombie scientists in northern Alaska shakin’ their booties. Now that’s what I call a Chiller Thriller. You are going to be a tough act to follow. Thanks for sharing.

  • Jul 10th 200913:07
    by carol hull

    this was so like alaskans, go guys

  • Jul 10th 200913:07
    by Kathy Ingallinera

    Great job – fun to watch and I have been showing it to everyone – we should do a SE version with Xtra-tuffs, etc…

  • Jul 10th 200915:07
    by Wendy pember

    Wow Fantastic moves by the Northern team …What a beautiful tribute to MJ…..those dance moves are going to catch on. Would now love to see the Antarctic scientists perform a wrap. The Duelling Ice Cappers….The world just got smaller. Thanx MJ,,, cheers Wendy Australia

  • Jul 12th 200901:07
    by Charissa

    This is awesome – I sent it to all of my friends, and family and I also posted it on my Facebook page! Great job – my coworkers and my mom and I laughed till we thought we’d fall off of our chairs! :)

  • Jul 13th 200914:07
    by sandy see

    Encore highly desirable. Can you do ‘Beat It’? Watched 8 hrs MJ music videos on BET channel and you guys have the moves. Great performance! MJ would be proud.
    OMG, the mosquito action reminds me of the Winged Monkeys in the Wizard of OZ. Stay safe. Sandy See

  • Jul 17th 200912:07
    by Stacey

    Great Job! I think your ready to take the show on the road. All of you have the moves down, minus the mosquito.

  • Jul 17th 200912:07
    by Kim E

    This is a riot! Makes one proud to be an Alaskan…

  • Jul 20th 200922:07
    by ASTM D6866

    Who says scientists can’t dance? This is a great video, fun to watch. The mosquitoes were definitely good “special effects” in this case.

  • Pingback

    Aug 10th 200900:08
    by The News Is Changing at C&ENtral Science

    [...] or movie theater is a 350-mile drive down the Dalton Highway.” What they did for fun was create a hilarious video tribute to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” and Jarvis’ blog posting linked to a YouTube video of the group [...]

  • Dec 20th 200908:12
    by dawood

    Here I’ve tried to collect all notable tributes paid to Michael Jackson by famous peers: http://www.tributespaid.com/tributes-to/michael-jackson

  • Feb 10th 201011:02
    by Jaimie

    This is great – I’m working on a documentary project about MJ tributes and I’d love to talk to one of the organizers! Lisa (or anyone else) if you see this, please email me at mymjmemories@gmail.com

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