By Schnarr, J.W. on March 3, 2018.
On Thursday morning, the man who found the Titanic was working his way through his team’s annual audit. His ship is sitting in a shipyard and based out of Victoria, B.C. But it won’t be there for long. Currently on a short break after seven months at sea, the man is ready to get back out there.
The ship is the exploratory vessel, the “E/V Nautilus.” The man is retired U.S. Navy officer-turned world-renowned oceanographer Robert Ballard.
Ballard is one of the featured guests at this year’s Greatness in Leadership conference taking place in March.
He is best known for finding the RMS Titanic in 1985, while on a secret navy mission to investigate two sunken nuclear submarines.
“I was a naval officer doing something else, and needed a cover,” he said from his headquarters in Connecticut “I must say, the Pentagon was pissed when I made the discovery. I apologized and said I’d never do it again.”
In May, Ballard will hit the open sea to work with Ocean Networks Canada.
He and his crew are assisting with efforts to provide improvements to a tsunami early warning system by investigating the Juan de Fuca plate, a tectonic plate subducting under the West Coast.
“It’s very similar to what happened in Japan and Indonesia,” said Ballard. “This is where you have a massive generation of earthquakes, and then the generation of tsunamis.
“The people on the West Coast of Canada want to put in a system to give them a warning. So this is sort of an opportunity to know when that happens to let people know they need to get up and away from it.”
Ballard learned about leadership at a young age and has been involved in positions of leadership in one form or another through most of his career.
“My father said ‘if you’re going to be a leader, plan to be lonely,'” he said, noting there have been many changes along the way.
“When I first went to sea, the only woman on the ship was made out of wood up on the bow,” he said.
“To see this transition, now 55 per cent of our team are women. And most are in positions of leadership and authority. So you’re seeing that whole evolution.”
The technological advancements since his first ocean trip in 1959 have been “breathtaking.”
These days, the E/V Nautilus makes use of telepresence technology for research and to bring experts from around the world down to the sea floor â allowing them to make observations in real time.
“Imagine you have a ship that is hovering over a discovery hundreds or thousands of miles out to sea, and it’s costing $60,000 per day,” he said. “You need to know if this thing you just came across is important.
“We don’t have the experts. So we need to be able to reach out within minutes and find the brightest expert, and literally transport that person – mentally – down to the bottom of the ocean at the site of the discovery.
“It means waking them up in bed, and streaming the discovery to them as they are trying to wipe their eyes and wake up, and saying, ‘What is this?’
“We work 24 hours a day. And once our vehicles are down, we work 24/7. Discoveries, for some reason, tend to occur at 2 a.m. on Sunday.”
With his research, Ballard has sees a future where humanity is able to move about the world and the stars in “end effectors,” similar to the Na’vi bodies used in James Cameron’s “Avatar” film.
“We’ve evolved ourselves into a little box,” he said. “But we can move our spirits into what – in engineering terms – is called an end effector.
“That’s what my robots do. My robots are fine (at the bottom of the ocean). I’m not. So I’m able to move my spirit out of my physical body, and go to another end effector.”
“It’s electronic travel, it doesn’t consume energy you can do it at the speed of light. Everyone can go to Paris and get inside an end effector and walk around. And everyone can go to the bottom of the ocean.
“So what this is, is a revolution in how society is going to function moving forward.”
“I’m a classic example of a 76-year-old fart that has easily adapted to this new way of doing things. But it does change the game. And you have to be able to evolve with that changing game.
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