In the frozen wasteland of Antarctica, temperatures can drop to -100°F and the Sun disappears below the horizon for half the year. Yet the same harsh conditions that make survival so challenging also make the South Pole an ideal location for astronomy. From here, scientists are studying the faint glow of the Big Bang known as the cosmic microwave background. Their goal is nothing less than to tease out the subtle signs of cosmic inflation and open a window onto the birth of the universe. At the helm of this quest: John Kovac, who has traveled to the South Pole more than 20 times in his career. John Kovac is an associate professor of astronomy at Harvard and leader of the BICEP2 Collaboration.