Thursday, February 25, 2010

Where Wonders Await Us

Michael Sigman on HuffPo has a great bit about Obama's budget cuts for NASA space exploration and the hilarious book A Martian Wouldn't Say That by Leonard Stern and Diane Robinson.

However, the part that most interests us for our purposes here is this succinct bit of wisdom:

In a December, 2007 NYRB piece titled Where Wonders Await Us, Tim Flannery discusses two books -- The Deep: The Extraordinary Creatures of the Abyss by Claire Nouvian and The Silent Deep: The Discovery, Ecology and Conservation of the Deep Sea by Tony Koslow -- full of astounding information and mind-blowing photos of the ocean depths. Our ignorance of this vast world is startling. Flannery: "Despite the fact that less than one percent of the ocean deep has been mapped, today our explorations are restricted to depths of six thousand meters or less."

Deep sea exploration is far cheaper and faster than space travel, and it even holds promise for helping us explore the heavens. The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute notes that "Ocean research reveals fundamental planetary forces which support thriving communities of life, on and below the seafloor, that hold key clues to the evolution of life on Earth and the possibility of life on other planets."