Shedding light on dark adventures

first_imgIn the mid-1980s, the U.S. Navy wanted deep-sea explorer Robert Ballard to launch a secret expedition to investigate two sunken subs, one of which still held nuclear weapons. Ballard agreed, telling them, “Have I got the perfect cover story.”That “story” turned out to be the search for the Titanic, which Ballard found in 1985 with the help of deep-diving drones the Navy agreed to finance for the sub expedition.The Titanic was the perfect cover story, Ballard said, because it was located between the wrecks of the U.S.S. Scorpion and the U.S.S. Thresher. The Navy let him search for the famed ocean liner only after the submarine mission was complete, which left him little time. Still, lessons from the sub search served him well. Instead of focusing on the Titanic itself, he looked for signs of the debris trail and, once found, followed it to the wreck.The drones Ballard used heralded their widespread adoption — in water and air and on land — and also helped him in later notable discoveries, including the German battleship Bismark (1989), the U.S. aircraft carrier Yorktown (1998), and ancient marine archaeological finds in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.The continued development of undersea drones is the future of deep-sea exploration, Ballard said during a Harvard talk on Wednesday.He shared an anecdote of a time when researchers aboard his ship, the E/V Nautilus — named after Jules Verne’s famed “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea” submarine — contacted Harvard microbiologist Peter Girguis on a plane at 35,000 feet. Within minutes, Girguis, a professor of organismic and evolutionary biology and an expert in the microbiology of the sea floor, was directing researchers himself, taking virtual charge of the operation.That episode, Ballard said, contained a glimpse of a future in which dark, dangerous work once done by humans in deep-sea submersibles is instead carried out by robotic subs in constant communication with research vessels.Scientists and technicians will increasingly use satellite communications to connect with colleagues around the world, transforming lonely descents to the deep into networked, high-speed, and — at least for those participating from home — even comfortable endeavors.Ballard, director of the University of Rhode Island’s Center for Ocean Exploration and president of the nonprofit Ocean Exploration Trust, drew a standing room-only crowd of more than 300 to the Geological Lecture Hall. In his talk, sponsored by the Harvard Museum of Natural History, one of the Harvard Museums of Science and Culture, he returned to the roots of his love affair with the sea, notably an early reading of “Twenty Thousand Leagues” and a childhood move to San Diego.Ballard also described his early submarine experience as a Navy officer, as well as decades exploring the sea floor and undersea hydrothermal vents, much of it via the submersible Alvin.Such adventures take a back seat with scientific funders, Ballard said, drawing only 1/1,000 the support that space exploration does. That means, he said, that the surface of Mars is more familiar to scientists than that of our own planet. The mid-ocean ridges alone, mountain ranges that run around the planet “like the seams of a baseball,” cover some 23 percent of the Earth’s surface and are rich in ores like copper, lead, zinc, and gold, yet have drawn relatively little attention.In fact, Ballard said, most of the planet is entirely unlike the world humans know. It is covered by ocean with an average depth of 13,000 feet, far below the depth that light can penetrate.“Most of the Earth is in eternal darkness and will never feel the warmth of the sun,” Ballard said.What the deep sea does absorb, however, is the warmth of the Earth, and Ballard described his role in discovering the abundant life around hydrothermal vents, whose rich chemical soup sustains tubeworms, giant clams, and other strange creatures.Ballard said it was his long experience traveling to the ocean floor and back — days when his commute was 2½ hours each way for just three hours on the bottom — that made him look toward undersea drone development.“[We were] trying to explore 72 percent of the planet at 1 knot,” Ballard said.Today, his emphasis is on engaging a new generation of explorers and exposing kids to the wonders of science. The United States, he said, spends more than all but one other industrialized country on education, yet ranks 27th in education in STEM subjects — science, technology, engineering and math.When he returned from the Titanic expedition, Ballard said, his desk was buried under letters from kids asking how they could grow up to do what he does. Since then, he said, he responds to such letters by telling the writers to apply themselves, always signing off “study hard.”Currently Ballard is engaged in a re-creation of the 19th century Challenger exploration, during which the British ship traveled around the world, conducting dredges and trawls and discovering some 4,000 new species. So far, Ballard said, his Nautilus research ship has covered 10,000 miles, with six more months at sea planned for next year. Even at sea, despite the scientific demands of the moment, he makes time to answer questions from schoolchildren.“I’m really excited about getting the next generation involved,” Ballard said. “Middle school is the battlefield.”last_img read more

Huntington Ups Meter Price to Fix Parking Woes

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Huntington village’s Main Street and New York Avenue will now have $1-an-hour metered parking to promote turnover so more people can park. (Photo credit: Town of Huntington)The Huntington Town Board tried Tuesday to address the growing issue of a lack of available parking in one of Long Island’s busiest downtowns, but many who attended the public hearing said the new parking regulations don’t go far enough.The five-member panel unanimously approved two resolutions that increased metered parking along New York Avenue and Main Street in Huntington village from 25-cents hourly to $1-an-hour, doubled metered parking rates to 50-cents hourly in some surrounding streets and increased the rate at East Northport train station parking lot.  They also shifted the time period in which meters on those streets charge drivers to 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. instead of the current 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., except Sundays.While they additionally increased the metered parking limit from two hours to three, officials said that they hope the new rates will create more turnover and open up more opportunities for other drivers to park, while also decreasing the amount of time drivers spend searching for an available spot.“We are living in an area where people want to be,” Huntington Town Supervisor Frank Petrone told more than 100 local merchants and residents who were on hand for the afternoon vote.Still, most residents and business owners said the measures won’t alleviate the problem. Many who spoke publicly said prospective customers regularly complain about parking, and some, according to one restaurant owner, cancel reservations because of frustration over searching for an open space.Petrone said a town subcommittee is currently looking into the feasibility of building a parking structure nearby, which appears to have the backing of many community members who spoke before the board. The subcommittee’s recommendation isn’t expected for several months.“More parking brings more business,” said Billii Roberti, a former book store owner in the village who closed down her business after only two years. Speaking outside the hearing, Roberti said other issues compounded the problem which led to her closing the store, but she noted, parking “certainly didn’t help.”“All my customers complain,” said a man who identified himself as the owner of Scorpios, a Greek restaurant on New York Avenue.“We need to work together to figure out the answer to this,” added Chris Mitchell, another business owner.The resolutions adopted Tuesday were part of a recommendation from the Huntington Village Parking Study, which was released last summer and was commissioned by a consortium that included the town, the Town of Huntington Economic Development Corp., the Huntington Village Business Improvement District, the Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce and Paramount Theater.A town spokesman said the new parking meter rates are expected to apply in a month to six weeks, once new centralized Muni Meter are installed to replace the old meters currently posted at each parking space. Violators are issued a warning for their first offense, but a second offense incurs a $25 fine with $50 fines for each thereafter. The municipal parking lots behind the shops will still be free, the spokesman said.last_img read more

Grades: Taylor makes UW’s defensive play of year

first_imgDespite shooting poorly against KSU, junior guard Jordan Taylor came through with two crucial stops on defense to seal the win.[/media-credit]Every week, Herald Sports will look back at the last two games of the Wisconsin men’s basketball team and offer a report card grading the team’s performance.The Badgers’ season remains alive and well after two encouraging victories in the NCAA Tournament have earned them their fourth Sweet 16 berth since 2003.Out of the Southeast bracket, No. 4 Wisconsin topped No. 13 Belmont, 72-68, on Friday before winning a 70-65 thriller against No. 5 Kansas State in the third round Saturday.Wisconsin now begins preparations for No. 8 Butler, a mid-major team one year removed from a national championship game appearance that upset No. 1 Pittsburgh Saturday in a 71-70 instant classic. The two teams meet Thursday night in New Orleans, La.Offense – 4.5 out of 5You can’t ask for much more from an offense in the postseason. The Badgers shot .500 percent from the field and .545 from 3-point range against Belmont and then hit .420 and .450, respectively, versus Kansas State while hitting at least .800 from the free throw line in both contests.The scoring came efficiently and was well distributed. Senior Jon Leuer and junior Jordan Taylor, who combined for 43 points against Belmont, were the only Badgers in double figures in that game, but four other players converted at least one 3-pointer while the bench contributed 18 points.Wisconsin divided the scoring even better against Kansas State, as four Badgers finished in double figures, and seniors Keaton Nankivil and Tim Jarmusz chipped in another trio of 3-pointers.Meanwhile, sophomore Mike Bruesewitz hit a clutch 3-pointer with a minute-and-a-half remaining, and freshman Josh Gasser sealed the win with two free throws in the final seconds.Against a kleptomaniac Belmont defense that averaged 9.7 steals per game, though, Wisconsin, which averaged a national-best 7.5 turnovers per game in the regular season, committed 13, which prevented the Badgers from obtaining a comfortable lead against the cold Bruins until about nine minutes into the second half.Defense – 4 out of 5The Badgers effectively prevented the Bruins from getting hot from the field, as they shot just .367 and .273 on the night, but the Wildcats – namely guard Jacob Pullen – seemed to score at will on the Wisconsin ‘D.’Only three players from Kansas State scored points on the night, but despite the rest of the squad going 0-for-8, the three put together a .458 and .500 team clip.Pullen played like a true senior in the postseason, scoring 38 points on 13-22 shooting, including 6-for-8 from the perimeter, and almost single-handedly beat the Badgers.Furthermore, both Belmont and Kansas State penetrated inside effectively, scoring 22 and 26 points in the paint, respectively.Despite that, Wisconsin forced eight turnovers against Kansas State, and the offense nearly maxed out those opportunities by scoring 16 points off them. In a physical and bruising contest, the Badgers kept pace with the Wildcats in the rebounding game despite ultimately losing, 32-30, but dominated the undersized Bruins 33-22.Bench – 3.5 out of 5This season the Wisconsin bench has been, at times, dormant. But in the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament, it came alive.Against Belmont, reserves Bruesewitz, Jared Berggren and Ryan Evans combined for 18 points on 6-9 shooting and 14 rebounds.Bruesewitz stood out the most, grabbing nine of those rebounds against Belmont and six more against Kansas State. He scored eight and 11 points, respectively, in those games, all on a sprained knee he suffered in the Big Ten Tournament.However, against Belmont, Bruesewitz committed four turnovers, and Berggren, despite playing a total of 17 minutes over the last two games, committed five fouls.Player of the Week – Jordan TaylorTaylor’s performance against the Wildcats may not have been pretty – he made just 2-of-16 shots from the field on the night – but it was the junior guard’s play down the stretch that prevented the Badgers from closing the books on their season.In the final minute-and-a-half, Taylor stole the ball from Curtis Kelly and on the ensuing possession provided the assist for Bruesewitz’s critical three. With 10 seconds remaining, Taylor hit two free throws to give UW a 68-67 advantage.The much-hyped guard duel between Pullen and Taylor seemed to have been won by Pullen for much of the game, especially when he got the best of Taylor with a fake behind-the-back pass on a late breakaway layup. But Taylor won the game on UW’s defensive play of the year, blocking Pullen’s 3-point attempt that would have tied the game with two seconds left.Those late-game heroics, added with 21 points on 5-13 shooting with six assists against Belmont, give Taylor yet another player of the week selection.last_img read more