No matter how crowded the world is: there are still places that give you comfort.
I'm going to do something complicated. I want to define something that cannot be defined: what is the value of what you cannot define. So wish me luck.
66 percent of our earth consists of water. 81 percent is more than a kilometer deep, which is called the deep sea. About five percent of the deep sea has been mapped. In other words: 95 percent is uncharted territory.
In a certain sense, you could say the deep sea is worthless: we do not know what its value is. It has often been tried to map it, such as during the Barton and Beebe expedition in the 1930s. Otis Barton and William Beebe went to the deepest points in the earth in their unique spherical deep-sea submersible, called the Bathysphere. In a scientifically justified manner, they wanted to know what the deep sea was.
Crammed into their small submersible, behind two small portholes, the winch lowered the two men into the dark. They probably got in each other's way, but they both wanted to go into the depths. Because: Barton had paid and Beebe had the scientific knowledge. The descent must have been ridiculously perilous.
William Beebe in the bathysphere. © WILDLIFE CONSERVATION SOCIETY
A world record
In 1934 they established a world record when they entered the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean. They were at a very deep point. But the problem was that they actually didn't see anything. You would think that they had thought of that in advance. You know, it is very dark there... They did have a bit of light, but apparently it was not enough in this kind of darkness.
There they were, waiting until the deep sea revealed itself. And then every now and then something swam by that gave light. Some animals do bio-luminescence. They radiate light, which is incredibly beautiful to see. Beebe wrote at one point:
The only other place comparable to these marvelous nether regions must surely be naked space itself, out far beyond atmosphere, between the stars, where sunlight has no grip upon the dust and rubbish of planetary air, where the blackness of space, the shining planets, comets, suns, and stars must really be closely akin to the world of life as it appears to the eyes of an awed human being in the open ocean a half-mile down.
So the only thing they could say when they came up again was: there are really many very strange animals there. Their notes were so vague that they were ignored by science. And that's what I like about their mission. Precisely the failure of it.
Yes, scientifically, it did not mean that much. But it was a life-changing experience. They went into that steel sphere to the edge of our existence and deeper. Towards that impossible dark world of the deep sea. Where only occasionally a sparkling fish swims by and then disappears into the dark.
I totally love it. It is such a wonderful idea that in our overcrowded world full of definitions and everything we have mapped out, there is an area that we do not know.
An area that is larger than all the land that we do know.
Something we cannot reach.
That reminds us that a very large part of where we live is a mystery.
It gives me some space.
It gives me more air to breathe.
It gives me comfort...
If you want to find out more about The Bathysphere, read this interesting article: "The Hollow Steel Ball That Changed Ocean Exploration Forever"
Photo 1 by Oliver Sjöström on Unsplash
Photo 3 by Naomi Tamar on Unsplash