Fathoming the Ocean: The Discovery and Exploration of the Deep Sea [NOOK Book]

Overview

By the middle of the nineteenth century, as scientists explored the frontiers of polar regions and the atmosphere, the ocean remained silent and inaccessible. The history of how this changed?of how the depths became a scientific passion and a cultural obsession, an engineering challenge and a political attraction?is the story that unfolds in Fathoming the Ocean.

In a history at once scientific and cultural, Helen Rozwadowski shows us how the Western imagination awoke to the ...

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Fathoming the Ocean: The Discovery and Exploration of the Deep Sea

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Overview

By the middle of the nineteenth century, as scientists explored the frontiers of polar regions and the atmosphere, the ocean remained silent and inaccessible. The history of how this changed—of how the depths became a scientific passion and a cultural obsession, an engineering challenge and a political attraction—is the story that unfolds in Fathoming the Ocean.

In a history at once scientific and cultural, Helen Rozwadowski shows us how the Western imagination awoke to the ocean's possibilities—in maritime novels, in the popular hobby of marine biology, in the youthful sport of yachting, and in the laying of a trans-Atlantic telegraph cable. The ocean emerged as important new territory, and scientific interests intersected with those of merchant-industrialists and politicians. Rozwadowski documents the popular crazes that coincided with these interests—from children's sailor suits to the home aquarium and the surge in ocean travel. She describes how, beginning in the 1860s, oceanography moved from yachts onto the decks of oceangoing vessels, and landlubber naturalists found themselves navigating the routines of a working ship's physical and social structures.

Fathoming the Ocean offers a rare and engaging look into our fascination with the deep sea and into the origins of oceanography—origins still visible in a science that focuses the efforts of physicists, chemists, geologists, biologists, and engineers on the common enterprise of understanding a vast, three-dimensional, alien space.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this amiable, in-depth examination of the most critical era for the development of modern oceanography, Rozwadowski devotes her attention to the mid-19th century, when British scientists joined a series of nationally sponsored, years-long, worldwide research cruises to explore the ocean deep. A historian and coordinator of maritime studies at the University of Connecticut, Rozwadowski integrates cultural factors-such as the developing seafaring literary genre, the rise of a moneyed elite with an interest in yachting and the economic and political pressures to develop a transatlantic telegraph cable-with the push to understand the nature of the oceans and convert this unknown environment into a moneymaking center. The two most basic aspects of data collection-calculating how deep the ocean is at various points and determining where various organisms live-presented almost insurmountable technical problems at first. Rozwadowski describes in great detail how sounding and dredging technology evolved so that reasonably accurate data could be acquired. She also discusses how the presence of scientists on British naval vessels helped transform the very nature of the British navy, in part by bringing middle-class sensibilities onboard. With so much technical detail, this book is unlikely to be popular with general readers, but it should do well with maritime buffs. 40 b&w photos. (Mar.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
During the 19th century, the ocean became something more than just a body of water to be sailed over and began to be studied for itself. In this study of America's and Britain's growing public and scientific fascination with the ocean depths, Rozwadowski (history & maritime studies, Univ. of Connecticut, Avery Point) covers the beginnings of bathymetry, dredging, temperature and salinity measurements, current mapping, and the move from yachts to fishing vessels to large ships as scientific platforms. But this is not just an oceanographic history: the author also addresses the social, cultural, and political aspects of this newfound interest-from the development of home aquariums to the laying of the transatlantic cable. If anything, Rozwadowski tries to cover too much, which results in a text overloaded with dates and names. However, the book would be an excellent choice for students and readers interested in the sweep of history. Recommended for academic and public libraries with an interest in the history of science, maritime history, or marine science; also for high school libraries where there is specific interest.-Margaret Rioux, MBL/WHOI Lib., Woods Hole Oceanographic Inst., MA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674042940
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 6/30/2009
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 304
  • File size: 679 KB

Meet the Author

Helen M. Rozwadowski is Assistant Professor of History and Coordinator of Maritime Studies, University of Connecticut at Avery Point.
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Table of Contents

Foreword
1 Fathoming the fathomless 1
2 The undiscovered country 37
3 Soundings 67
4 A sea breeze 97
5 Dredging the moon 133
6 Small world 175
7 Epilogue 211
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