Saturday, August 11, 2012

Bob Ballard finds the Titanic

In a recent post, I wrote about the Titanic Memorial Cruise.  I noticed that in the bios of the people who were doing lectures on the cruise (Titanic experts--true Titaniacs), many of them said that they had been to the site of the wreck and "had made the 2 1/2 mile dive" down to see it.

That surprised me. I would think that making a deep sea dive like that, in one of those weird submersibles, would be something only for highly-trained oceanographers, or Navy personnel.

But here were these Titaniac, probably mostly "independent scholars," going down to see the wreck.  Is it a vacation industry?

To find out more, I've been reading a bit about the exploration of the Titanic wreck site.

The first person to go down--in fact, the person to FIND the Titanic wreck site was Bob Ballard.

This dude, who I think was a Titaniac from his childhood, became an oceanographer. In 1985, he located the wreck at the bottom of the sea by scanning the seabed back and forth, back and forth.  They called it "mowing the lawn"--you can see it on the right, below

You wouldn't think a huge ship like that would be so hard to find.  But the ocean is big.  Really big.  I mean you might think it's far from here to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts compared to the ocean.

Anyway, I watched a National Geographic DVD about Ballard's finding it, called "Secrets of the Titanic."

There were a few things that stuck with me from watching the 1-hour show, filmed in 1986.  ("That's a really 80's computer, Mom," said Eli.)
  • Footage of the researchers finding the Titanic.  They'd spent days not finding anything.  Then suddenly--they saw a boiler down there.  Raucous celebration!  Jumping up and down!  And just as suddenly--the ship's room got completely silent. 
  • Ballard said he couldn't talk to anyone about it for months.  But maybe he was keeping a secret!
  • Ballard eventually went back to look up close with a submersible--in 1986. He said it was hard to imagine the whole ship as it was pitch black down there, and they could only see what their spotlight shone on.
  • When he finished looking at the wreck site, he left behind a placard memorializing the site.  He brought nothing back from it.

No comments:

Post a Comment