Christian Long

Robert Ballard: Exploring the Oceans

In TED Talks on April 25, 2010 at 10:35 pm

Reflection by SHANNON L.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Robert Ballard:  Exploring the Oceans

“Why aren’t we exploring the ocean?”-Robert Ballard questions. His opening remarks reveal his own personal passion for his love of the ocean and his frustration that we are not taking advantage of exploring the world under the sea, when over half of the Earth is under the ocean. “We have a better map of Mars, than the fifty percent of the United States that lies under the ocean.”, he exclaims.

Robert Ballard began his expeditions of the ocean when he was seventeen and has completed over one hundred and twenty. There are only eight submersibles that can be used, and only four to five of them are used on any one day. There is an under water mountain range that he refers to as the Mid-Ocean Ridge which covers twenty three percent of the earths crust. This is one single mountain range covering one fourth of the earth which was not even approached until after we had gone to the moon.

Robert Ballard and his team went on an exploration to try and explain why this mountain range was under so much tension. There are tens of thousands of active volcanoes below the surface of the water than on land. One would think that since the average depth of the ocean is twelve thousand feet and no photons can reach that depth, that there would be no light which is needed to create photosynthesis and without photosynthesis there are no plants and without plants there are no living creatures. Or so science thought. After the expedition began its search into the Rift Valley and Galapagos Rift, they discovered huge giant chimneys. After placing heat probes in them, the temperature spiked to over six hundred degrees! The chimneys were made up of commercial grade zinc, silver, gold, lead , and copper. This unbelievable fact was made insignificant by the proliferation of life that should not have existed at all. Ten foot tall tube worms and clams were able to survive not by photosynthesis but by a new process called chemosynthesis.

To cover more territory efficiently, Robert Ballard designed robotics. Now new creatures were discovered and new found underwater structures, that they could not understand. They named it “The Lost City”. Some of these newly discovered vent systems were within two miles of where people sunbathed. Life was discovered in underwater pools with a pH of 11 which is equal to that of Drano. This means that “life is more creative than we imagined.” He concludes that the ocean is in actuality the largest museum on earth, full of history and vast unknown discoveries.

In summary, let’s utilize our current technology to explore under water mineral use, habitats on the water, and new sources of food.

So with this, why explore space when we have so much undiscovered territory here on earth whose value is unmeasurable and possibilities are unending?


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