National Geographic : 2009 Jan
INSIDE GEOGRAPHIC PEOPLE BEHIND THE STORIES ■ Elisabeth Bumiller On September 10, 2001, Bumiller started work as a White House correspondent for the New York Times. Over the next five years she covered the response to 9/11 and traveled the world with President Bush. But in writing "Inside the Presidency,'' Bumiller drew on her experience with the other White House: that permanent cocoon where Chief Executives come and go but butlers stay. "The President," she says, "has a four- or eight-year lease. But the customs surrounding his care and feeding---the meals, the lawn care, the personal bills he's expected to pay--- stay remarkably the same." ■ Hampton Sides While writing this issue's "1,000 Days in the Ice," journalist and author Sides traced the life of scientist and adventurer Fridtjof Nansen, a Nobel Prize-- winning Norwegian who helped prove that the Arctic is an ocean. Sides also located a living link to the golden age of exploration: Nansen's great- grandson Nicolai. "When I first met him," says Sides, "he was out of breath, having just touched down from a skydive. Over an Indian-food dinner he regaled me with tales of his travels to the Amazon, Laos, Alaska. He's also crossed Greenland on skis, twice. Clearly the Nansen adventuring gene lives on." PHOTOS CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT : S. ANDREW WILLIAMS; DOUG MILLS, NEW YORK TIMES; CAMILLE HEWETT ON ASSIGNMENT Gilt Trips Burly movers are shifting pallets of gold from one numbered locker to another in the underground vault of the New York Federal Reserve Bank. Conveyor belts help with the load---each brick weighs 28 pounds, and there are hundreds. Randy Olson photographed the wealth as it moved, perhaps from country to country--- the Fed wouldn't say. "It's not a daily occurrence," he says. "I was lucky to be there when they were transferring gold." Olson, who took the pictures for this month's story on the precious metal, was already familiar with gold at its source. In Guyana for a May 2002 Geographic story on catfish, he witnessed "hydraulicking," blasting dirt into streams with high-powered hoses to wash the gold out. The practice also fills the streams with mud and kills the fish. For a September 2005 story he visited the Democratic Republic of the Congo to photograph Pygmies---and saw their forest being destroyed as new mines were dug. "I've been touching on this over the years," says Olson. "It's nice to actually do the story on gold." In the New York Federal Reserve Bank's ultrasecure vault, Randy Olson lifts a gold bar. It is, he says, "surprisingly heavy."