The Eternal Darkness

Bookshelf: The Eternal Darkness

The Eternal Darkness: A Personal History of Deep-Sea Exploration – Robert D. Ballard

The Eternal Darkness
The Eternal Darkness – Robert D. Ballard

I have read several of Robert Ballard’s books – Robert Ballard’s Titanic, Mystery of the Ancient Seafarers, Return to Titanic, Adventures in Ocean Exploration, and Explorations, his autobiography.

I expected to find this book a bit dry and repetitive, thinking I’d read everything he had to say about submersibles and the like. There is a small amount of repetition, but it’s very limited, and this book is more focused on the history of man’s attempts to dive deep using submarine vessels of various kinds – from William Beebe and Otis Barton’s bathysphere to the bathyscaphe and beyond.

Ballard himself was involved in much of this history, having pioneered manned and then unmanned (ROV) submersibles during the course of his career at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

It boggles my mind that only once has man visited the Challenger Deep, the deepest spot in the world’s oceans in the Mariana Trench near Guam – and this was in 1960. A Japanese robot has since descended into the depths there (in 1995) and in 2009 a robot built by Woods Hole, Nereus, made the journey; but not since the bathyscaphe Trieste carried Jacques Piccard and Don Walsh below the surface has any human being visited this spot, nearly 11 kilometres beneath the sea.

This is an easy read, with ample illustrations (particularly of Ballard’s activities) and is a comprehensive history of our efforts to explore the deep ocean. Frankly, I think they’ve been a bit lacking in intensity and frequency, but most ocean explorers would agree with me!

The book is available to order here.

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Clare

Lapsed mathematician, creator of order, formulator of hypotheses. Lover of the ocean, being outdoors, the bush, reading, photography, travelling (especially in Africa) and road trips.

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