Nobel Laureate John Mather and Nat Geo Explorer-in-Residence Robert Ballard discuss how technology expands the limits of the known universe.
Among the most accomplished and well known of the world's deep-sea explorers, Robert Ballard is best known for his historic discoveries of hydrothermal vents, the sunken R.M.S. Titanic, the German battleship Bismarck, and numerous other contemporary and ancient shipwrecks around the world. During his long career he has conducted more than 120 deep-sea expeditions using the latest in exploration technology, and he is a pioneer in the early use of deep-diving submarines.
Ballard has pioneered distance learning in the classrooms of America and around the world with the JASON Project, an award-winning educational program that reaches more than 1 million students and 25,000 teachers annually. He has received prestigious awards from the Explorers Club and the National Geographic Society—the Explorers Medal and the Hubbard Medal, respectively—as well as the Lindbergh Award. In 2003 President George W. Bush presented him with the National Endowment for the Humanities Medal in the Oval Office of the White House.
Ballard is president of the Institute for Exploration, scientist emeritus from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and Director of the newly created Center for Ocean Exploration at the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography. His new ship of exploration, the E/V Nautilus operated by his Ocean Exploration Trust spends four to five months at sea each year and will be exploring the Black Sea, Aegean, Mediterranean, and Atlantic Ocean in 2011, beaming back his exploration around the clock on Nautilus Live.
Dr. John C. Mather is a Senior Astrophysicist in the Observational
Cosmology Laboratory at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. His research
centers on infrared astronomy and cosmology. As an NRC postdoctoral fellow at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (New
York City), he led the proposal efforts for the Cosmic Background
Explorer (74-76), and came to GSFC to be the Study Scientist (76-88),
Project Scientist (88-98), and also the Principal Investigator for the
Far IR Absolute Spectrophotometer (FIRAS) on COBE. He showed that the
cosmic microwave background radiation has a blackbody spectrum within 50
As Senior Project Scientist (95-present) for the James Webb Space
Telescope, he leads the science team, and represents scientific
interests within the project management. He has served on advisory and
working groups for the National Academy of Sciences, NASA, and the NSF
(for the ALMA, the Atacama Large Millimeter Array, and for the CARA, the
Center for Astrophysical Research in the Antarctic).