Oceanographer Robert Ballard made a splash with Ohio State students when he shared stories of his deep sea discoveries during a talk presented by the Ohio Union Activities Board Monday night.
Ballard, who is famous for discovering the sunken wrecks of the RMS Titanic in 1985, the battleship Bismarck in 1989, and the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown in 1998, shared his experiences with university students.
Derrick Lin, a third-year in biomedical engineering and student assistant of the OUAB, said he was excited to have Ballard give a talk.
“We chose to bring Dr. Ballard because we try to bring diverse programming that is both entertaining and thought-provoking, and we believe his talk fits this description,” Lin said. “To hear him talk about his discovery of the Titanic as well as his ongoing exploration program known as the Nautilus is very exciting.”
Ballard said he knew he wanted to be an oceanographer when he was very young, and he attributes his passion to reading the novel “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.”
“I wanted to be Captain Nemo, more than anything,” Ballard told The Lantern. “And look at me now. I’ve been a captain for over 50 years, and my ship is even named the Nautilus.”
Ballard said the diversity in his education was crucial to his success.
“You’re going to go through a lot of lives by the time you are done working,” Ballard said. “And the more you diversify at a young age, the better off you will be out in the real world. That’s America, and it’s wonderful.”
Ballard said that when they found the Titanic it was “extremely pleasing” and they celebrated, but when the crew thought about the ship sinking, the mood changed.
“We felt awful that we were celebrating. So we went from celebrating, to really quiet,” he said. “It really hits you in the gut when you realize you’ve found all these lost souls. So we made sure to never pick up or move anything.”
Ballard added that he has great hope for the next generation of explorers.
“Humanity has really only explored 5 percent of the planet, and (the next) generation will be able to explore the other 95 percent thanks to telepresence,” he said to the crowd. “There is so much for you to explore out there, and I’m excited to see what you discover. People ask me what my next discovery will be, and frankly, I don’t know. That’s how this all works.”
As advice to students aspiring to achieve their goals, Ballard said that it’s important to keep trying and stay focused.
“Follow your passion, your dream, no matter how silly. You’re going to get knocked down, and you are going to fail,” Ballard said. “Unless you really want it, you won’t get anywhere. You have to want it in your gut, and use that passion to keep you going forward.”