Oceanographer touts deep sea web surfing

With the help of 20 cameras aboard the ships and on the ROVs, those logging on will see and hear exactly what the scientists are seeing and hearing, 24 hours a day.

And just to make sure people don’t miss anything, Facebook and Twitter will send out alerts if it appears the teams are closing in on an important discovery. This will allow them to get to their computers and be there when it happens.

“We’ll never have a dull moment,” Ballard said Wednesday. “We’ll always be doing something. The idea is to constantly go with the action.”

Ballard detailed the Nautilus Live Theater’s evolution at the Texas Computer Education Association (TCEA) conference in Austin last year before a crowd of several thousand educators.

If a submarine reveals a major discovery–say, a lost city, such as the legendary Atlantis–experts in whatever scientific fields are relevant can be at their respective command centers within 20 minutes, remotely controlling the sub and its cameras to zoom in on particular features as they explore this latest breakthrough, Ballard said.

“I tell kids in middle school that their generation, thanks to telepresence technology, will explore more of the Earth than we’ve [ever] previously explored,” he said at TCEA.

The theater and web site are the culmination of a dream that began taking shape in 1982, when National Geographic magazine asked Ballard to describe the future of ocean exploration.

The magazine published a drawing in which remotely operated vehicles tethered to a surface ship would explore the ocean bottom and beam video to scientists and students from around the world.

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