Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Mapping The Ocean's Hidden Worlds

The US has two exploration programs: NASA, tasked with exploring the space, and NOAA, the national oceanic administration. If you compare NASA's budget, it's 1600 times bigger than NOAA's. Why are we ignoring the oceans, 72% of our planet? Most of the southern hemisphere is unexplored. We had more ships down there during Captain Cook era than now. In 1975 we went down 9000 thousand feet into the ocean floor, the eternal darkness where you don't have photosynthesis, therefore no plant life, and little animal life -- or so we thought. We discovered that there are tens of thousands of active volcanoes. We discovered a profusion of life that should not exist. Giant tube worms. Large clam beds. Then we started creating robots for accelerating the exploration. And we could find incredible limestone formation, upside-down pools, etc. Recently, diving off in the Gulf of Mexico, we found pools of water, volcanoes of methane, flows of lava.
Great talk by Robert Ballard. I couldn't agree with him more that we should redirect funding from the exploration of the heavens to the exploration of the oceans. He also said that there is more American territory that is unexplored than explored as the US has rights to the land 200 miles off of its shores and that undersea land is greater than the above sea land.

via TED

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