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Soundings: The Story of the Remarkable Woman Who Mapped the Ocean Floor

Soundings: The Story of the Remarkable Woman Who Mapped the Ocean Floor - Hali Felt I really liked this book. Besides shedding light on an overlooked woman scientist and the ocean and its floor, the style of the book really drew me in. The author is candid about what is unknown about Marie Tharp and the ocean floor. She writes in a wonderfully engaging way (although I can imagine that this type of writing may not be for everyone). An improvised discussion between Marie and Bruce:"In fact, she's kind of disappointed that all these exciting data have only inspired Bruce to think of what's already been hinted at. Slow declines and great big saucers of mud? A vast area of land with all the topographical character of the Midwest? That's it, she asks. She wrinkles her brow and taps her pencil fast against the tabletop. They're about equals, educationally speaking -- Bruce has just finished his master's degree in geology, earned hers four years ago. Don't you think it's probably a little more exciting down there? Bruce scowls. Well, he ask, what you do think is there? This is the first and quite possibly, tamest of what will become a very long line of disagreements." p. 95On Marie and Bruce's first trip to Iceland:"They're all eyes, translating. Things from their everyday lives are rendered fantastic, huge or tiny, it's hard to tell, mundane objects carousing with features that belong on the ocean floor. The grass is so green, it's chartreuse, the faraway uneven patches scaled down to lichen size and creeping over stones. Stands of pines like fuzzy tufts of moss. Solid streams of 3000-year-old lava. Steaming hot springs resemble ladles of consomme. Volcanic cones have nearly perfect circles scooped out of their tops -- some with glassy turquoise water pooled in their depressions, some dented with fedoras and covered with plants. A glacial lagoon is a punch bowl scattered with floating chunks of ice. Beehive-shaped hornitos, which form when lava is forced up through the cooling surface of a flow, accumulate vertically around a hollow center. Boulders piled against seaside cliffs like marbles in a cigar box. Cave openings like belly buttons. Look at that, Marie says over and over again, without turning to look at him. I know, he says, knowing just what she wants him to photograph." p. 143Interesting (and depressing) insights about scientific/academic in-squabbling. Where ocean floor exploration is today:"Despite the new technologies, we haven't moved much past the starting point. Even today, only about 10% of the ocean floor has been surveyed using multibeam sonar; in other words, only about 10% of the ocean floor has been studied in any detail. This lack of information about the ocean floor means that scientists have mapped Venus, the Earth's moon, and Mars in more detail... We know less, period, about our own planet than we do about those places." p.297The author's statement preceding her notes section includes this paragraph. I think it gives the feeling about how passionately the author felt about her subject and her approach to the book:"As I wrote this book I tried to imagine that I was writing a very long letter to Marie. It always was a strange letter, though. Or maybe not: when I think about how this book is at once to Marie, about Marie, for Marie -- and sometimes even, in a way, by Marie -- I think it might just be a love letter, the boundary between author and subject gone fluid. So here's an appendix I think you would have appreciated, Marie, the resources you left behind mingling with those I discovered on my own." p. 303