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Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Universe Below - William J. Broad

For the first book I actually started reading in the new year, I decided I really needed to pull the oldest book out of the Tote (er, Bookcase) of Shame – made very easy by the sorting ability of LibraryThing in the Collections view.   

I picked this book up in my used book store travels because it dealt with deep sea exploration – if you didn’t know, I have a Zoology undergrad degree that concentrated in marine ecology – I even did an internship in the benthic studies department of a marine lab in Florida.   I really liked this stuff, once upon a time.

 This book was published in 1997, so I’m sure (heck, I know) there are lots more interesting things in the field that have happened since then, but it does have an interesting overview of what had happened in deep sea exploration up until that point.   The author wrote (maybe still does – I’m too lazy to Google) for the New York Times, and was looking into the subject after doing some stories about the deep sea submarines.   Naturally, the finding of the Titanic figures into the story (I was in college during this time frame, and actually got to see Robert Ballard speak – you could tell he was beginning to regret finding it at that point).

What I didn’t realize (but probably should have), was how much of a role the Navy played in the early days of deep sea exploration.     Once again, the Cold War certainly did do wonders for technology advancement.    (I had a few morbid moments trying to figure out what kind of “advancements” would come out of the current war on terror – definitely a depressing train of thought.)

This really is a fascinating realm, and so very open for study.     It’s been a few years since the book was written, and I know we do know more, and have seen more in the deeps, but there’s still so much out there to find.   Definitely science at its best.    Because the author is a journalist, it’s written very understandably.   If you’d like a good overview of the field, it’s worth a read, even if the book is a little old.

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