When Dr. Bob Ballard saw the movie 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea as a child, he was amazed by the idea of exploring the world’s oceans. The former Naval officer is now among one of the most accomplished oceanic researchers, most notably for his discovery of the wreckage of the Titanic in 1985. Ballard spoke to students from UTC and area high schools about the importance of going into the science fields and exploring the world’s oceans.
“This generation is going to explore more of the world than any of the other generations combined. I’m here recruiting. I’m trying to get you excited about science and technology,” Ballard said.
Ballard, who has completed more than 100 expeditions, is still astonished by what he finds under the sea.
“One time my team and I were exploring an oceanic mountain range and saw something unbelievable. We found chimneys blasting out black smoke at the bottom of the ocean. We found life, worms, clams, and bacteria, around these chimneys. Every book I’ve read told me that this wasn’t possible, that life couldn’t exist at the very bottom of the ocean where there is no light,” he said.
“I think of the earth as a living creature. It has a lot of surprises for us. It’s expressing itself through volcanoes and earthquakes. It’s saying I’m alive,” he continued.
Ballard also spoke about his discovery of the Titanic.
“The high state of preservation blew me away. I could still read the words printed on the outside of the ship. Chandeliers were still hanging from the rafters. I couldn’t believe it,” he said.
“There’s more history in the deep sea than in all the museums in the world,” Ballard continued.
According to Ballard, there’s still more research to be done.
“The ocean is worth exploring. Out there, there are perfect time capsules of human history waiting to be discovered. Around 72 percent of the world is underwater, and NASA’s budget to explore outer space 1,000 times larger than the one to explore our own oceans, our own real estate.”