Advertisement - Click to support our sponsors.

Thursday, January 25, 2001


Explorer who found
Titanic to lecture here

By Helen Altonn

Robert Ballard, world-renowned marine scientist, author and explorer who found the Titanic, will return to the University of Hawaii-Manoa, which he once attended, to give a free public lecture.

Designated recently as one of five "Heroes for the Planet" by the National Geographic Society, Ballard will discuss "Deep Sea Exploration" at 7 p.m. Feb. 9 in the UH Campus Center Ballroom.

Preceding the presentation -- part of the university's Distinguished Lecture Series -- Ballard will lead students, scientists and teachers on an expedition to the Big Island and Kauai.

He will be in Hawaii Jan. 28 to Feb. 9 for "JASON XII, Hawaii, A Living Laboratory," which will be broadcast live to more than 750,000 students and teachers using the latest satellite and Internet technology.

The oceanographer and former naval officer founded the JASON Project in 1989 in response to thousands of letters from schoolchildren wanting to know how he discovered the Titanic.

The name is taken from the Greek hero, Jason, the first great explorer in mythology to sail the seas of the western world.

The JASON Foundation for Education was established to administer the program, aimed at motivating teachers and exciting students about science and technology.

Ballard will bring about 26 students to Hawaii who will be "ambassadors of science, representing all the others coming virtually through our broadcast and the Internet, which reaches millions worldwide," said JASON spokesman Scott Treibitz.

He said this is the first time the JASON crew of several hundred is returning to a primary location visited in the past.

Ballard was on the Big Island in 1995 for JASON VI: Island Earth, "a voyage to the volcanoes, observatories and unique environments of Hawaii."

For JASON XII, broadcasts will be made on the Big Island from the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and an abandoned house that was the only thing salvaged during the last lava flow.

Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge on Kauai will be the site of a third broadcast.

Ballard was one of the first graduate students in the UH oceanography program in 1965-66. He transferred to the University of Southern California to work with K.O. Emery, a world-class marine scientist, then earned a doctorate degree in 1974 from the University of Rhode Island.

"He is clearly one of the most well-recognized contemporary scientists and the most famous marine scientist," UH biological oceanographer David Karl, who also has a distinguished science reputation, said of Ballard.

Karl did research with Ballard on a biology expedition to the Galapagos Rift in 1978.

"I owe a lot to the guy personally," he said.

Ballard has helped produce many television programs and has been involved with several National Geographic specials. From 1989 to 1991, he hosted the weekly National Geographic EXPLORER. He led or participated in more than 100 deep-sea expeditions with submersibles.

Among his discoveries were warm-water springs and unusual animal communities in the Galapagos Rift, polymetallic sulfides, high temperature "black smokers," the German battleship Bismarck, 11 warships from the lost fleet of Guadalcanal and exploration of the luxury liner Lusitania.

In 1997, Ballard and a team of scientists conducted the first deep-ocean archaeological expedition with the Navy's nuclear research submarine, the NR-1.

They returned to the Mediterranean Sea to a previously detected debris field suggesting a fleet of ancient Roman shipwrecks.

The team found ships complete with their cargo of shipping containers and relics spanning five centuries of Roman history beginning in the 1st century B.C.

In 1998, Ballard participated in searches for the aircraft carrier Yorktown, sunk during the World War II Battle for Midway.

Ballard has published more than 50 scientific articles. He has written books on his discoveries of the Titanic, Bismarck and Lusitania, a novel, "Bright Shark," and "Explorer," a children's pop-up book. He also wrote "The Lost Ships of Guadalcanal" and an autobiography, "Explorations."

A book signing will be held while he is in Honolulu for his latest book, "The Eternal Darkness," published in 1999.

Ka Leo O Hawaii
University of Hawaii

E-mail to City Desk

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]

© 2001 Honolulu Star-Bulletin