Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Smithsonian; 1St Edition edition (March 24, 2009)
Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
Best Sellers Rank: #835,202 in Books (See Top 100 in Books) #155 in Books > Engineering & Transportation > Engineering > Civil & Environmental > Hydrology #265 in Books > Science & Math > Nature & Ecology > Oceans & Seas > Oceanography #1564 in Books > Biographies & Memoirs > Professionals & Academics > Scientists
This book contains many charming anecdotes about how floating objects,from garbage to sneakers to dead bodies, are carried around by thesurface currents of the ocean. I particularly liked the extendeddiscussion of how careful observation of flotsam may have persuadedColumbus that the ocean wasn't too wide to cross to India. The bookalso gives some nice descriptions of what its like to conduct scienceat sea.However, as a physical oceanographer, I was disappointed and finallyinfuriated by the book's neglect of the discoveries of literallyhundreds of scientists who have studied ocean circulation in the lastcentury. The book argues for new names of the major ocean gyres butsays little about how the gyres work. Other fascinating topics inphysical oceanography poorly explained by the book are therelationship between the wind and ocean currents, the existence andcause of strong currents on the western side of gyres, and the way theEarth's rotation creates a simple relation between water velocity andpressure. An intrinsic feature of ocean dynamics is that surfacewater tends to converge (draw together in the center) in thesubtropical gyres and diverge (float apart) in the subpolar gyres.This is very important for understanding why garbage patchs wouldaccumulate in the subtropical gyres and make landfall adjacent to thesubpolar gyres. Based on the book's discussions of physicaloceanography, I suspect the book could have said more about garbageand other flotsam as well.The large gaps in explanation would be less irritating if the bookdidn't sometimes give the impression that Dr.
For some reason, people tend to flock to the water. Especially when vacation calls. There is something magical about sitting on a beach, watching the waves. Or in having a cold beverage while gazing at the vastness of the ocean. This migration to the water seems to be part of human nature - a throw back to some ancient time. As we are in the midst of summer, a book concerning the oceans, and things that float on it, seems like a great idea. Part science, part autobiography, part cautionary tale, Flotsametrics and the Floating World: How One Man's Obsession with Runaway Sneakers and Rubber Ducks Revolutionized Ocean Science, by Curt Ebbesmeyer and Eric Scigliano, makes for the perfectly literal beach book.Contents: Preface: A New World, Chasing Water; Oil and Icebergs; Messages in Bottles; Eureka, a Sneaker!; Coffins, Castaways, and Cadavers; The Admiral of the Floating World; Borne on a Black Current; The Great Conveyor; Ashes to Ashes, Life from the Sea; Junk Beach and Garbage Patch; The Synthetic Sea; The Music of the Gyres; Appendix A: Urban Legends of the Sea; Appendix B: A Million Drifting Messages; Appendix C: The Oceanic Gyres; Appendix D: Ocean Memory; Appendix E: Harmonics of the Gyres; Acknowledgements; Illustration Credits; Glossary; Further Reading; IndexDr. Curt Ebbesmeyer wasn't always an oceanographer; his undergraduate degree is in Mechanical Engineering and after college, he landed a job with Mobil Oil. Soon, he decided he wanted a graduate degree and gravitated toward two possibilities; nuclear engineering and oceanography. His wife was interested in library sciences. Deciding on a college that was strong in all three took him to the University of Washington. It was there that Dr. Ebbesmeyer decided on oceanography.
Curtis Ebbesmeyer graduated from college with a degree in mechanical engineering. When he went to work for Big Oil, he also got his doctorate in oceanography. He got to travel all over the world because ocean flows affect oil rigs. He became interested in sea currents and in beaches and how debris is carried onto land. And then in 1990 five shipping containers full of shoes washed off a ship, and it set Ebbesmeyer into his true scientific calling, which has made him world famous. In _Flotsametrics and the Floating World: How One Man's Obsession with Runaway Sneakers and Rubber Ducks Revolutionized Ocean Science_ (Smithsonian Books / Collins), Ebbesmeyer, writing with reporter Eric Scigliano, has given an anecdote-filled autobiography, along with plenty of instruction in oceanography basics. It is a lively, funny look at a life spent doing serious science in an eccentric way. Ebbesmeyer tells us not only about adventures at sea and combing beaches, but also about the joys and frustrations of such things as getting peer-reviewed articles published. His book is a welcome look at what a particular scientific life has been like.It was Ebbesmeyer's mother in 1991 who clipped an article for him to see. Nike shoes were landing all over the Oregon coast. Beachcombers helped him document where the shoes were found, and he started asking questions about where they came from. Nike was helpful. Not only could it tell him the exact location of the spill, but every single shoe is stamped with an ID number, which can be tracked back to the particular container that spilled it. Ebbesmeyer teamed with colleague Jim Ingraham to use a computer program called the Ocean Surface Current Simulator.
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