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24/7 Lecture: Sir Charles Wyville Thomson

Posted on Saturday, April 4, 2020 by for 24/7 Lecture.

24 seconds: One important figure in Ocean Science is Sir Charles Wyville Thomson (1830–1882), a Scottish historian and marine zoologist. In his book The Depths of the Sea, he details his expeditions aboard the HMS Lightning and HMS Porcupine, discovering that animal life existed below 650 fathoms (1200 meters) and that deep-sea temperatures varied considerably. More famously, Thomson is known for being the chief scientist aboard the HMS Challenger. Under his supervision, the vessel traveled 70,000 nautical miles and cataloged over 4,000 unknown species. On March 23, 1875, Thomson and his crew recorded a sounding 4,475 fathoms deep in the Southwest Pacific Ocean. Through modern soundings and later expeditions, scientists have discovered that this area is actually the southern end of the Marianas Trench, 6,012 fathoms deep (10,994 m), and the deepest point of the Earth. Out of respect for Thomson and his crew's accomplishments, this area is now known as the Challenger's Deep.

7 Words: Thomson discovered new ocean depths and species.

Idrees Ilahi (Class of 2020)

Sir Charles Wyville Thomson. Stipple engraving by C.H. Jeens, 1876.