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Human Exploration of the Deep Seas: Fifty Years and the Inspiration Continues

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The deep seas have facinated the world for centuries. The flow of new ideas has traveled through the centuries and inspired people to dive below the surface and explore the forms of life that exist in the abyss. Many early ideas led primarily to military developments, with scientific research emerging much later. Only in the past 100 years has the technological capability matched the human desire to deep dive into the oceans and discover its true mysteries. This article looks back at the history and flow of such ideas that involved submersible vehicles, how this led to the development of the Trieste bathyscaph, concurrent activities around the world, the efforts involved in completing the dives, and the impact this deep dive has had on the evolution of submersibles. It presents the successes, the challenges, as well as the grit and luck it sometimes took to make it happen. After fifty years, it is clear that the sea still holds many mysteries. Human-occupied underwater vehicles will remain a central element among the modern tools at the service of knowledge acquisition. The future calls us to see and discover this underwater world—not simply to be awed by its power and beauty but to learn; to comprehend the complex web of inter-relations between our life on land and its impact on the seas. We stand on the shoulders of many dedicated engineers and explorers as we continue to inspire the next generation to study the many alien creatures that will teach us anew.
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Keywords: ALVIN; Bathyscaph Trieste; Marianas Trench; Submersibles; submarines

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2009-12-01

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  • The Marine Technology Society Journal is the flagship publication of the Marine Technology Society. It publishes the highest caliber, peer-reviewed papers on subjects of interest to the society: marine technology, ocean science, marine policy and education. The Journal is dedicated to publishing timely special issues on emerging ocean community concerns while also showcasing general interest and student-authored works.
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