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The Eternal Darkness: A Personal History of Deep-Sea Exploration

Biography / MemoirPopular Science

By: Robert D Ballard

388 pages, 16 col plates, 100 b/w photos and illus

Princeton University Press

Paperback | Mar 2002 | #129767 | ISBN: 069109554X
Temporarily out of stock: order now to get this when available Details
NHBS Price: £22.95 $28/€26 approx
Hardback | Dec 2000 | #106497 | ISBN: 0691027404
Availability: In stock
Clearance price: £4.25 £40.95 (Save £36.70) $5/€5 approx

About this book

An historical look at deep-sea exploration. Ballard begins in 1930 with William Beebe and Otis Barton, pioneers of the ocean depths who made the world's first deep-sea dives, before moving on to review the advances made by Jacques Cousteau. Finally he describes his own major discoveries, including the development of remote-operated underwater vehicles and the revolutionary search techniques that led to the discovery and exploration of the Titanic, the Nazi battleship Bismarck, ancient trading vessels, and other great ships.

"From finding the Titanic to exposing the geophysical processes that cause oceans to form and continents to move, explorer-scientist Robert Ballard has lived adventures that combine the best of scientific research and Indiana Jones. Bristling with suspense and laced with wry humour, The Eternal Darkness will captivate even the most seasoned landlubber."
– Sylvia A. Earle, former chief scientist of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

"The Eternal Darkness is a straightforward look at a complicated business that shows again not just that exploration is worth doing but that even at home here on earth it is far from over [...] [It] is not really a book about the past. It's a promise that the "E" word remains the deepest adventure of them all."
– Michael Parfit, New York Times Book Review

"Drawing from the expertise gained during his more than 100 trips into the abyss, Ballard highlights historical and scientific events that he and Hively expertly weave into a series of scintillating tales."
– Loretta DiPietro, Scientific American

"Dr. Ballard is a passionate advocate of deep-sea exploration, pointing out that all such expeditions so far undertaken have probably surveyed less than one percent of the sea floor [...] One can hardly disagree with Dr. Ballard's proposal that we should expand that one percent."
The Atlantic Monthly

"The man who found the Titanic, discovered black smokers on the sea floor, and first ventured into the mid-Atlantic ridge tells the story of deep-sea exploration [...] Scores of photographs highlight the steadily absorbing text; together, words and pictures present a vital and authoritative general history of humanity's adventures deep beneath the waves."
Publishers Weekly

"The Eternal Darkness is an excellent book [...] It is authoritative and well written, and [...] it is impossible to put down."
– Richard Shelton, Times Literary Supplement

"Titanic discoverer Ballard [...] handily summarizes a technology unfamiliar to many readers. Ballard has published popular books about his recovery of other famous sunken ships besides the movie's namesake, which adds cachet to this more scholarly work."

"Doing science is exciting! This is the main message of Ballard's fascinating combination memoir and history of deep ocean science."
Library Journal

"The Eternal Darkness is a highly readable book [...] I am always on the lookout for books that will motivate and enthuse potential and present students. The Eternal Darkness will become a firm favourite on that list, as Ballard shows what can be achieved by hard work, determination and unbounded enthusiasm."
– Paul Tyler, New Scientist

"A remarkable story of science and adventure, as fascinating as the exploration of space and the landing on the moon."
American Way

"An informative and interesting book written with authority on a fascinating subject."
– Daniel Lenihan, Naval History

"Pitched to the lay reader, Ballard's The Eternal Darkness is engaging, sometimes thrilling and always authentic [...] Ballard was also involved in the 1985 discovery of the Titanic, and his account of the sleuthing that went into the hunt makes for terrific reading [...]"
– Dennis Drabelle, Washington Post Book World

"This book takes the reader into the deep-sea realm along the discovery paths of famous deep-sea explorers as chronicled by the preeminent explorer of our time. Ballard's book will leave readers enlightened and concerned about the expanding role the oceans are playing as the future evolves."

"Cool technology meets personal obsession in this history that's also a memoir by the discoverer of the wreck of the Titanic. Break out the bathospheres, the minisubs and the ROVs (Remote Operated Vehicles); it's time to take the plunge and see what's Down There."
Washington Post Book World


Preface vii Acknowledgments xi Introduction 3 Part I DEPTH 1 A Simple Tethered Sphere 13 2 Bathyscaphs Race to the Bottom 33 3 The Tragic Dawn of the Modern Deep Submersible 58 Part II DISCOVERY 4 Scientists Begin Exploring the Deep 93 5 The Midocean Ridge: Womb of the Earth 117 6 Hydrothermal Vents: Exotic Oases 157 7 Black Smokers: Recipe for a Salty Ocean 187 Part III DETACHMENT 8 A Tethered Eyeball Races to Find the Titanic 217 9 Recovering Our Past by Remote Control 255 10 Should Humans Continue to Dive? Two Paradigms 299 A Note on Sources 313 Further Reading 315 Index 375

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Robert D. Ballard, Ph.D., is President of the Institute for Exploration in Mystic, Connecticut, and the former Director of the Center for Marine Exploration at Woods Hole, Massachusetts. He is a pioneer in the development and use of deep submergence technology and has participated in more than a hundred deep-sea expeditions. He is the author of several bestselling books, including The Discovery of the Titanic, Explorations, and Exploring the Bismarck.

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