Friday, February 24, 2012

Submarine History

Heather Cox Richardson

This infographic from the BBC is just too good to pass up.

It’s fun for a Friday, in any case, just to take a look at ocean life at different depths. But the historians out there—especially the historians of science—will want to scroll all the way down to the bottom, where there is an interview with Don Walsh, one of the two men ever to travel to the bottom of the deepest place in the world: the Mariana Trench.

The US Navy bathyscaphe Trieste descended to the bottom of the Trench on January 23, 1960, making the deepest dive of Project Nekton, a project designed to launch careful study of the deep sea. Those plans ran aground, though, as the U.S. looked toward space exploration, rather than oceanic studies. Other countries have continued to invest heavily in ocean research—Denmark’s Galathea 3 Project drew international attention in 2006-2007, for example—but the focus of American popular interest has drifted elsewhere.

While Walsh notes that there has never been another manned expedition to the Trench, there are at least three plans underway right now to send crews to the deepest part of the ocean.

None of the groups planning the descents are scientific crews: they are a marine consulting company, a company that makes private submarines, and Richard Branson’s Virgin Oceanic group, which plans to offer undersea adventures.

No comments: