Oceanographer touts deep sea web surfing


This would allow them to participate in the discoveries in real time, even though they were thousands of miles away. And it would allow scientists to explore much more of the ocean than they could in tiny, manned submarines.

When he first relocated to the aquarium in the mid-1990s, Ballard said that someday he would like to be able to oversee his expedition from his home and have people be able to explore the Titanic from the comfort of their own living rooms.

The technology did not exist at the time, and Ballard and his team have spent the past three decades developing the systems needed to make it a reality. Over the past several years, he has tested them during his annual expeditions.

“Surprisingly, this has all worked. I’ll be damned,” Ballard jokes.

In December, Ballard began broadcasting from the ships to Boys and Girls Clubs, schools and other institutions via his Immersion Learning web site, using his new Inner Space Center at the University of Rhode Island as a command post.

Teachers from across the country who will be working aboard the ships as embedded reporters will be part of broadcasts back to more than 80 Boys and Girls Clubs and science centers.

The Inner Space Center is linked to scientists, archeologists and other experts across the country who are on call in case a discovery is made and their expertise is needed. They can then report to one of 12 institutions and participate in the expedition remotely.

“We now have the technology to show these expeditions live so you don’t have to wait until we come back to read about them,” Ballard said.

As it’s been with his JASON project and Immersion Learning, Ballard’s latest effort is also designed to interest students in science and engineering careers.

Ballard described it as taking advantage of a “wow” moment — when a student’s jaw drops when he or she sees something exciting.

“That’s when we can put a lot of information into them,” Ballard said.