Oceanography is the study of the oceans. It is a parallel study to that of geology, the study of the solid Earth. However, where are these two studies taken together? In the minds of today’s scientists, the two environments are separated by “a Chinese wall”.
Concise information on history of oceanography (albeit without pictures!) can be found here. Among biographies of sea explorers, I recommend: 1) Russian language Флорений Павленков, “Кристофор Колумб“, 2) Stafan Zweig’s, “Conquerer of the Seas: the Story of Magellan“. If one really wants to feels what was going on, one must go to the sources. I personally recommend: 1) diaries of Captain James Cook, 1728-1779. 2) The story offirst sailing around the globe alone, by Joshua Slocum, 1824-1909. 3) The story of sailing the Atlantic ocean alone on a rubber boat, “The Voyage of the Heretique”, by Alan Bombard, 1924-2005. 4) TED talk of James Cameroon (“Cameron’s experience on Titanic left him with a newfound interest in deep-sea diving”, source). Also, take a look at such people as Thor Heyerdahl’s voyage on Kon-Tiki in 1947, Fyodor Konukhov rowing across the Atlantic Ocean, and Zac Sunderland sailing alone around the globe at 17!
The surface of the oceans was first chartered in the “Age of Great Discoveries”. This started with the expeditions of the Portuguese around Africa, at the end of XV centuries, then the voyages of Christopher Columbus, 1492-1504, then the circumnavigation of the globe by Magellan’s expedition in 1519-1522, then expeditions across the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Indian oceans.
One can argue that we got to know the shape of the oceans, and the solid Earth, only with the dawn of the space age and the introduction of satellite technologies mapping our planet.
On personal level, the “Age of Great Discoveries” is not over, as individual people know very little about the land masses and the oceans of our planet. This is a great problem before education. The existing schools are jails inasmuch as they unnecessarily limit the movement of the pupils and their playful instinct. Schools of the future will be massive traveling expeditions across the face of the Earth and on oceans. There needs to be a revolution in educational systems, and this is inseparable from general social revolution.
As there is little that we know about the surface of the oceans, there is even less that we know about the depths. What is there under water? Two people who started the investigation of the depths of the oceans, in XX century, were Jacques Yves Cousteau and Jacques Piccard.
- Cousteau, 1910-1997, invented the aqualung, during World War II. He also made numerous films about ocean depths, which he explored in a mini-submarine. Cousteau made films about “re-discovery” of the world, which is exactly what we mean by education. Perhaps the famous Beatles’ song “Yellow submarine” was inspired by the submarine of Cousteau.
- Jacques Piccard, 1922-2008, designed a bathyscaphe “Trieste”, which in 1960 reached the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the deepest point in the Earth’s oceans.
- Conclusions: 1) scientific approach separates that which in reality is inseparable. Thus, geology and oceanography are 2 parts of the same study. 2) The schools at present are really prisons, as the whole of societies of which they form a part. The schools of the future must take from the best from explorers of the oceans and the Earth.