The day I arrived in Yakutsk with my colleague Peter Osnos of The Washington Post, it was 46 below. When our plane landed, the door was frozen solidly shut, and it took about half an hour for a powerful hot-air blower- standard equipment at Siberian airports- to break the icy seal. Stepping outside was like stepping onto another planet, for at those low temperatures nothing seems quite normal. The air burns. Sounds are brittle. Every breath hovers in a strangle slow-motion cloud, adding to the mist of ice that pervades the city and blurs the sun. When the breath freezes into ice dust and falls almost silently to the ground, Siberians call it the whisper of stars.