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Earth Science

Interviews: Ask David Gallo About Ocean Exploration 35

David Gallo is an oceanographer and Director of Special Projects at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. He has participated in expeditions to all of the world’s oceans and was one of the first scientists to use a combination of robots and submarines to explore the deep seafloor. As a member of James Cameron’s Deep Ocean Task Force and the XPrize Ocean Advisory Board, David actively encourages the development of new technologies for ocean exploration. With more than 8 million views, his TED presentation entitled Underwater Astonishments is the 4th most viewed TED Talk to date. David has agreed to come up for air and answer any questions you may have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
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Interviews: Ask David Gallo About Ocean Exploration

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  • Chilling (Score:4, Interesting)

    by syphax ( 189065 ) on Thursday April 11, 2013 @12:56PM (#43423877) Journal

    What's the most chilling thing you've observed underwater? By "chilling," I mean: some really weird-looking, previously unknown creature, remains of the Titanic, a squid attacking an ROV, etc. By "observed" I mean either directly, by video, or by evidence (e.g. ROV with large sucker marks)

  • Can't help but wonder if that insufferable busy-body, Dirk Pitt, has managed to get under foot in the work you do. Sure, he's usually saving the world from man-made catastrophes and evil plots and whatnot, but he seems to leave a huge wake behind him. Just wondering if NUMA's budget wouldn't be better spent farming out more of their work to you guys at Woods Hole, which would also keep him from wrecking an endless parade of irreplaceable classic cars, boats, and aircraft.
  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn&gmail,com> on Thursday April 11, 2013 @01:14PM (#43424097) Journal
    Something that has often perplexed me is fossil distribution through time and tectonic shifts. For example, one can go to the middle of North America and find sea fossils. So, perhaps with your knowledge of what happens to things in the deep, are there untold fossils lying under the seabed floor? Perhaps a localized population of what once used to be land animals situated such that we have never seen these fossils at the vast bottom of the Pacific Ocean? If you can fill me in on why this is or isn't possible (I have no idea what plate shifts do to the top layer or what effects untold pressure has on fossils), I would be extremely interested! Thanks!
  • Acidification (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bayoudegradeable ( 1003768 ) on Thursday April 11, 2013 @01:18PM (#43424163)
    Have you noticed any affects of acidification of the world's oceans?
    • Have you noticed any affects of acidification of the world's oceans?

      Well, it would be interested to hear his first hand accounts (if any) but his institute has a page devoted to it [] with a FAQ that may provide some more information on observables [] such as:

      Will ocean acidification kill all ocean life?
      No. However, many scientists think that ocean acidification will lead to important changes in marine ecosystems.

      As well as:

      Isn't it better that we sacrifice the oceans and let them keep on taking up CO2 and buffering climate?
      Ocean acidification and climate change are two sides of the same coin. Both are direct consequences of anthropogenic CO2 emissions and cannot be separated from each other.

      Those are just the beginning of longer answers but there's a lot of data on that FAQ if you're genuinely interested in this.

  • Have you found Osama BinLaden yet?
  • at the bottom of the ocean?
    have you removed the water? carried the water?

    Did you let the water hold you down?
    Did you days go by, into silent water?

  • by Tha_Big_Guy23 ( 603419 ) on Thursday April 11, 2013 @02:25PM (#43424935)
    Having watched the show SeaQuest as a teenager, and recognizing the participation from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (For the first season anyway), I wanted to ask about the feasibility of humans actually inhabiting the oceans and seas as depicted in the television series. I realize that the technology to bring the ship itself to reality is quite a bit ahead of where we are now, but do you think it's possible in the near-future that humans will begin to colonize the oceans?
  • Back in 2008, WHOI was working with Lockheed and the American Bureau of Shipping [] in developing a replacement/successor to the Alvin submarine. What happened to that project and how will WHOI develop its underwater exploration capability in the future?
  • It's very difficult for me to see a reason for send human beings exploring when the state of remote and autonomous systems is improving so rapidly. What organizations and platforms show the most promise in this field and where is the most improvement needed?
  • by thereitis ( 2355426 ) on Thursday April 11, 2013 @05:51PM (#43427517) Journal
    Over time, have you seen the effects of the world's dwindling shark population?
  • What are the chances of finding precambrian life or its descendants in the deep ocean?
  • All that stuff on Spongebob - did that really happen?

  • Seems like the ocean would be an ideal environment for pushing the technology of autonomous operation and AI. That is, do you foresee the ability to create robot explorers that are a nerdy version of flying monkeys?
  • I saw an announcement that James Cameron has donated the Challenger Deep Submarine to WHOI, As one of the lucky people to work on this vehicle during its construction, here in Australia, I was wondering if you can tell us if there is any plans to use this Awesome Machine to explore any other parts of the planets Oceans. or is it destined to sit on display in a museum? I know how much hard work went into that machine, it would be a shame to not use the MOST Capable deep sea diving vehicle on the planet, to i
  • Many years ago, when I was aged about 12, I recall reading about a ship that had sunk and was drifting around underwater. I have heard about shipping containers doing this sort of thing, but I was wondering if you had ever seen a ship or a boat drifting around underwater.

Scientists are people who build the Brooklyn Bridge and then buy it. -- William Buckley