The 2nd “Andrew Wilk Presents…” will be fascinating.
On Thursday, February 13 (7 p.m.), Dr. Robert Ballard speaks at the Westport Library.
I was excited to interview him, for a sneak peak. In 1985 he discovered the wreck of Titanic. He’s also found the Bismarck, the lost fleet of Guadalcanal, the aircraft carrier Yorktown (sunk in the Battle of Midway), and John F. Kennedy’s PT-109.
But when I started talking about those titanic discoveries, he basically said, “Who cares?”
Ballard has bigger fish to fry.
The National Geographic Society Explorer-at-Large says his most important discoveries were of hydrothermal vents — and the exotic life forms living miles below the surface.
Basically, Ballard found the origins of life on earth. These creatures have found ways to duplicate photosynthesis without sunlight. Thanks to Ballard, we now know that life can flourish all over the universe.
He’ll talk about all that in Westport. (And Titanic too. “It’s part of the story of human history,” he realizes.)
But wait! There’s more!
Ballard is also about to embark on “the 2nd Lewis & Clark Expedition.” Of course, there are a couple of differences between this, and the one 2 centuries ago that uncovered the wonders of our still-unexplored continent.
For one, Ballard is going underwater. The US owns waters 200 miles from our coastline — and we’ve got a lot of coast. Including Alaska, Hawaii and all our Pacific islands like Guam, Ballard says there is as much undersea as the entire surface of the United States.
And we have no idea what minerals and species are down there.
“I’ll tell you when I find it,” Ballard says confidently.
A second difference between the 1800s and 2000s: Half of the explorers this time will be female.
“I’m calling it the Lois and Clark Expedition,” Ballard says.
So he’s not only astonishingly smart, and superbly adventurous. Ballard is also quite funny.
“Andrew Wilk Presents…” — hosted by Westport’s Emmy-winning television executive producer and director/playwright/symphony conductor — brings remarkable men and women to the library. The series kicked off last month with Michael Davie, a filmmaker who has worked on major projects for Oprah Winfrey, National Geographic, Discovery and more.
Ballard will be a compelling guest. His sense of adventure is — clearly — profound.
So I wanted to know more about what he will discover, in his upcoming exploration of our planet’s vast oceans.
“What did Lewis and Clark expect when they got in their canoes?” Ballard asked rhetorically.
“I’ll tell you when I find it.”
(Tickets for Dr. Robert Ballard’s talk with Andrew Wilk are $50 for reserved seating; $150 for VIP reception and reserved seating. Click here for tickets and more information.)