Thursday, October 13, 2011

Woods Hole, Massachusetts

Wood's Hole, on "lower" i.e,the southwest end, Cape Cod began as a whaling town. today it is world famous in particular for two institutions: the Wood Hole Oceanographic Institution, a foremost center for the study of the all things marine where the depths of the oceans are studied both by manned crafts and by a variety of robots -- all of which are one-of-a-kind, all of which are designed and manufactured and maintained right there. The harbor, even on a very drizzly, gray day is a lovely sight.
The Marine Biology Labs is an independent institution which has the world's finest laboratories for the study of marine life with the goal being contributing to the understanding and betterment of human life. This institution has provided workspace for 54 Nobel Prize scientists as well as hundreds of others. The numbers of scientific papers published are vast.

A group of 55 seniors from the Academy for Lifelong Learning were given tours of both institutions with lectures by well trained volunteers. Some had been on such a tour previously, I had not. I had merely spent a couple of hours in the town and had no overview at all so I learned a lot. Below is the manned capsule from Alvin, the deep sea going sphere designed to hold three scientists, sitting very close together. It has made 4600 plunges to the bottom of the ocean. At the moment the capsule and the structure that allows it to be lowered and raised are being reconstructed in a somewhat larger size. As can be seen in the photograph, the two people standing in front of it would barely fit inside. I get claustrophobia just looking at it.

One of the most renown accomplishments of a WHOI scientist was the discovery of the location of the Titanic. That was news making but the ongoing and extensive data gathering about the sea, the underwater volcanoes, the sea creatures unknown before being discovered by WHOI scientists is far important. The enormous amount of information that has flowed out of this small town over the past 50 or so years as more and more instruments have been designed, contributes enormously to our understanding of life on earth.

1 comment:

Ladydy5 aka: Diane Yates said...

June, she looks mad at you. I would too.