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Oral History Transcript — Dr. William Ryan

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Interview with Dr. William Ryan
By Tanya Levin
In Palisades, New York
July 1, 1997

 
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William Ryan; July 1, 1997

ABSTRACT: Born 1 September 1939 in Troy, New York. His fatherís work as a rag man and his fatherís research on synthetics during World War II. Describes his home and early schooling. Family moves to Westchester County, North Tarrytown, New York. Ryan attends a private day school there and then enrolls at Hotchkiss School in Connecticut. Mentions science at Hotchkiss. Lists his early interests in how things work, blueprints, and maps. Ryan sails and enjoys crew during summers at Cape Cod. Enrolls at Williams College. Measures Sputnikís Doppler shift for a physics course. Contemplates a career in space science. Is introduced to a Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute scientist and oceanography. Following graduation from Williams, Ryan joins a Woods Hole cruise as a technician. While working at a Massachusetts Institute of Technology soil lab, Ryan hears Lamontís Bruce Heezen lecture. Heezen introduces Ryan to Lamont Geological Observatory. Ryan starts graduate work at Columbia University. Meets Lamont director, W. Maurice Ewing, at a Geological Society of America conference. Ewingís unique presentation described. Compares Lamont science to Woods Holeís methods. Compares the two institutionsí equipment. Ewingís work measuring oceanic sediment thickness. Ryanís graduate work. Continental drift at Lamont, Woods Hole, and Williams. Ewingís unfavorable impression of sea floor spreading. Characterizes John Nafe. Takes classes from Nafe, Heezen, and Fred Donath. Ryan develops an interest in the Mediterranean Sea. He continues making summer cruises with Woods Hole. Attends the Second Oceanographic Conference in Moscow, Russia. Critiques the insipid nature of the Soviet scientistsí presentations. Turns in a biting critique of the oppressiveness of Soviet science to the U.S. Academy of Sciences. Recounts Heezenís presentation at the conference and briefly discusses the controversy at Lamont surrounding Heezenís talk. Mentions the rift between Heezen and Ewing and how it affected him. Writes his thesis on studies of the floor of the Mediterranean. Describes student political demonstrations at Columbia in the 1960s. Discusses how Lamont gathered information about the earth as a way to understand environmental issues. Mentions Lamontís involvement in studying nuclear waste disposal. His experience on a Canadian ship in Bermuda that was boarded by Greenpeace recounted. Ryan and Ewing write to President Richard M. Nixon about the lack of oil reserves on the continental shelves of the United States. Following graduation in 1971, Ryan continues as a research scientist at Lamont. Ewing departs for Texas in 1972, taking some Lamont personnel with him. Briefly mentions problems during Manik Talwaniís directorship. Describes fundamental changes in scientific thinking. Changes in funding patterns, collection of data, instrumentation, atmosphere on the ships, women on cruises, and computers at sea discussed. Compares international collaboration begun at the root level to top-down collaboration. National styles of science. Describes the usefulness of documentaries for teaching science. His work fusing science and the humanities. Lists what has aided Lamontís success as a research school: friendships, ships bringing people together, and the cafeteria. Describes his role in the production of the Heezen and Tharp 1977 map of the world ocean floor. Gives his impressions of the first sea floor map, the North Atlantic Physiographic Diagram. Compares the map with modern satellite imaging maps. Finding the funding for the 1977 world mapís publication. How the maps were put together.

Transcript

Levin:

Okay. The date is the first of July, 1997 and this is an interview with William Ryan. And this is Tanya Levin in the oral history from Lamont-Doherty [Earth Observatory]. And I know you were born September 1, 1939 in Troy, New York. But I donít know anything about your family, your background. Who were your parents and what did they do?

Ryan:

My dad was one of four boys. And he was — used to call him a rag man. He was in the textile business in Troy, in the rag waste, cotton waste business. My mother was one of four girls, and her grandfather founded and built the Fears Bazaar. Itís a big department store in Troy, New York, was then managed by her father. And I was born the day that Hitler invaded Poland and started World War II.

Levin:

That was a very difficult time for your family. How was business during the depression?

Ryan:

During the depression?

Levin:

And for Ė-

Ryan:

I canít — But during the war, my father had gone to RPI, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; worked on several projects. One was in synthetics. Silk was cut off from the U.S. in the war. And silk was a very important commodity for packaging of gun powder in shells. And my father worked on developing synthetics to replace silk. And I remember him experimenting in our cellar with nylon to be used, potentially used for tires. And he developed a shredding technique to separate nylon synthetics from silk so that silk could be recycled in the war. Your grandmother tells you stories of taking out all her silk so that it could be recycled for the artillery shells.

Levin:

Interesting. So he was doing that actually in your home, some of the experiments?

Ryan:

Well, a bit yes. Or up at RPI or other places that he could get access to.

Levin:

Thatís very interesting. So how many brothers and sisters did you have?

Ryan:

I had three brothers. Four boys. Iím the second oldest of four boys.

Levin:

What kind of a house did you grow up in?

Ryan:

Grew up in a large, brick Georgian style home that my dad had built out in the country just outside of Troy. And thatís still farms.

Levin:

Did it have a library?

Ryan:

Yes. The house had a library. Yes.

Levin:

What do you remember reading when you were young?

Ryan:

I remember reading adventure stories. And I remember most lying on the rug in the library listening to the radio during the war. I was quite young, was intrigued by the news.

Levin:

Were you receiving, or was your family receiving any journals into the home?

Ryan:

Not journals, but magazines like, ďLookĒ, ďLifeĒ. And growing up we always got ĎNational Geographic.Ē

Levin:

Your early schooling in elementary school, did you have any science type classes?

Ryan:

The school in Troy was a little country schoolhouse. Had two rooms, eight classes, two teachers; each taught four grades simultaneously in a room. So it was very stimulating. And if you were in first grade, you could overhear and know what was going on in the front tables with the second and third grades so that you really progressed at your own speed. My parents later, in 1948, moved down to Westchester County [New York], North Tarrytown [New York], and there I went to a private country day school. And actually went back a grade because I had been accelerated and my parents thought that, and correctly thought, that I was really too young for the grade I had been assigned.

Levin:

Do you remember which types of subjects you were interested in at the time?

Ryan:

I liked all subjects. And I had wonderful teachers. I remember in fourth grade being fascinated with mythology. I had a teacher at the country day school who taught us all about the Greek myths. And I enjoyed math, social studies. I took Latin, beginning in the eighth grade, and took four more years of Latin in private boarding school, the Hotchkiss School, Connecticut.

Levin:

Was there — what was the religious atmosphere in your home?

Ryan:

My father was Roman Catholic. We were raised Roman Catholic. And my mother later converted long after we all had our confirmation to Roman Catholic too. The Hotchkiss School, though supposedly non-denominational, was really Episcopalian, and there was compulsory chapel daily and Sunday. Chapel service from which a number, a large number of very eminent ministers or theologians came and gave sermons. And there was a vespers service in the evening.

Levin:

But did you — how did you feel about these seminars?

Ryan:

It was very — It was fascinating. It was quite intellectual. Gee, in those days I was really all ears and was intrigued about most anything.

Levin:

When you were in high school, what kind of science classes did you have?

Ryan:

We had, at Hotchkiss, biology, chemistry, physics, and math through calculus.

Levin:

Really? You got that far?

Ryan:

Had fabulous, fabulous teachers.

Levin:

Do you remember some of them still?

Ryan:

I remember Mr. Bodell who taught us chemistry. And I have to refresh my memory. Physics was taught always with a, you know, a freshly set up experiment on the lab bench to demonstrate the principle we were working on. Almost every lecture was a live experiment. The labs were marvelous. I never really found them tedious though.

Levin:

But for these experiments, do you feel that they were genuine learning experiences, rather than cookbook experiments?

Ryan:

Oh they were clearly learning. They were just demonstrating phenomenon, you know, momentum, spontaneous combustion or that you. And Iíd always as a child been interested in how things work. I took things apart. Door locks apart, clocks apart, toasters. Whatever I could get my hand on to figure out how things work. Built models and engines and airplanes and boats and —

Levin:

Did you have the journal ďPopular MechanicsĒ in your home?

Ryan:

We may have had it from time to time. I may have subscribed. Certainly, we had it at school. And I had a — I subscribed to some kind of a yachting magazine which I remember had wonderful plans of boats and yachts in almost every issue. And building various models I got very familiar with the plans and blueprints, and I could — was able to envision essentially the spatial relationships in plans. And I was intrigued with maps.

Levin:

You said you were getting this yachting magazine. Had you been out to sea before?

Ryan:

I had learned to sail when I was about ten years old, nine or ten. My parents had a home up at Hyannis Port, in Cape Cod a couple summers. And I learned sailing at the yacht club there. Go out and crew on the weekends for regattas. I was quite small for my age and very light. I weighed well under a hundred pounds. And so I wasnít the first choice for crew because that involved sort of hiking out. So Iíd sort of hang around until people came along to crew with that most other people didnít enjoy crewing with, but I wasnít very fussy. So I actually crewed with the Kennedy brothers in a number of races as well. My cousin Sandra was a belle from the Cape who was dating at the time Teddy [Edward] Kennedy.

Levin:

Oh really? Interesting. Were you aware of Woods Hole [Oceanographic Institute]?

Ryan:

And I was aware of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. We used to go down and visit. But I think not back then in Ď48, but later when I was in college. My parents then bought a home up in the Cape. And at that time I was aware, in college, of Woods Hole. In fact, my senior year I saw a brochure of theirs and thought at the time about maybe that would be nice, that that job there would be something nice to do after college.

Levin:

Do you remember what type of a job they were advertising? For oceanography or —?

Ryan:

I think it was a brochure just about the institution. I majored in physics with a minor in math at College. That was Williams College. I graduated from Hotchkiss in 1957, and the fall I arrived at college was the launching of the Sputnik by the Soviets.

Levin:

Interesting. What do you remember of that?

Ryan:

Oh I remember that being — I remember following in the magazines the U.S. effort during the International Geophysical Year and the fact that the Navy was building this rocket called the Vanguard that was going to launch a little sort of grapefruit size satellite. I remember being discouraged with all the failures of the testing and launching of Vanguard. So the fact that the satellite wouldnít stay up in orbit was no surprise, but a number of us, my classmates, with our physics prof built a receiver the day that the Sputnik launched. And we set up antennas on the roof of the physics building and tracked it. And then measured the measuring the Doppler shift with an oscilloscope. And calculating the speed it was going at and then going through the orbital equations to show why it stayed up, and why it was going the speed it was going. So I seriously contemplated a career in space sciences, and the root into that was through flying, it was aviation, military. So I thought seriously about joining the officer candidate program in the Navy to become a Navy pilot. And — but I washed out of the medical exam, due to deteriorating eyesight. And the Navy doctor at the time that examined me was at Weymouth Station south of Boston, told me that he had a friend who played golf with, or he socialized with from time to time in the summer, who was a scientist up at Woods Hole. And that he thought that I might enjoy a civilian career in the sciences. In fact, he provided the introduction for me. And I followed that up immediately and had an interview up at Woods Hole and fell in love with the idea and going out on research ships. And again, a month from graduating from college was off on a five month expedition.

Levin:

Interesting. Letís go back a little bit. When you were in high school, you knew that you wanted to go on to college?

Ryan:

Yes.

Levin:

Did anyone counsel you on what choices were available?

Ryan:

Yes. There was a lot of counseling. And I played athletics. I was a swimmer, on the swimming team and on the track team. And we played a number of freshman teams from Yale, from Williams, from schools like that, West Point. So I had a chance to visit a number of campuses. And Hotchkiss prepared a large number of students for Yale, sort of a — And my grandfather, my motherís father, had gone to Williams College. Cousin and older brother were there. I thought — so I actually applied for a program of three years at Williams and then the last two years at RPI, but ended up staying.

Levin:

When you went into Williams, did you know what you wanted to go into?

Ryan:

I thought at the time that it was probably would be science. But Williams was liberal arts. I took — freshman year I spread out. I had placed well. I had had four years of French at prep school. So I continued to take French and it was marvelous French literature, political science, economics. I like languages. I took Russian. And I had advanced placement, in mathematics. So I just sort of took a smorgasbord and enjoyed it. My favorite courses were in art history.

Levin:

Good. Was there any sort of science club at Williams, or organizations?

Ryan:

There was a small number of us that used to, you know, futz around in astronomy, using the telescope there. I donít remember who was doing it. I donít think it was a formal science club. I donít remember. My afternoons were for the most part committed to sports. So I was also into sports in college. So my evenings were full of, you know, studies.

Levin:

Do you remember some of your physics teachers at Williams?

Ryan:

Ralph Winch was my physics teacher. David Park, an outstanding scholar, made a national name for himself. Those are who come to mind now.

Levin:

What were you doing during the summer in college?

Ryan:

I was actually a counselor at a boys camp up in New Hampshire where I taught sailing and swimming in my last — see my sophomore and junior years I directed the waterfront which was a big, very responsible job for somebody very young; worked out great. We had a swimming team at camp that consistently won the state championships and I taught a number of boys that became outstanding sailors.

Levin:

Interesting. And then you said that as soon as you had graduated from Williams, you had found a brochure and ended up on an expedition?

Ryan:

Well I was aware of Woods Hole. But it was through trying to get into the space program, so I said I got into oceanography through the back door. My entry there was through electronics, through physics. So I assisted in the building of instruments. And was the technician, maintained and I kept the instruments running. That was an around the clock job in those days. These were the days when transistors were just coming in, replacing vacuum tubes.

Levin:

But this electronics work was at Woods Hole?

Ryan:

At Woods Hole, yes. So I was there for a year at Woods Hole. Five months at sea and then after the, a month before going to sea, five months after seeing after the expedition working up the results from the expedition, got the opportunity to write two papers for publication. And was in the process of working on sediments from the ocean floor, doing physical property measurements, that I was using a lab — a soils lab at MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology] — a room that you could keep humid so that material from the ocean floor wouldnít dry out. And I saw a lecture by Bruce [C.] Heezen was being given. I attended that lecture and asked a number of questions afterwards, and engaged with Dr. Heezen. And he asked me what my plans were. And I said, I donít know. I donít have any plans. He said, ďWell are you pursuing a graduate degree?Ē And suggested I come down to Columbia [University] for an interview, which I did. And I interviewed. My guide, my tour guide, was Walter [C.] Pitman.

Levin:

How is it, you said you met Heezen at this lecture. What was Heezenís lecturing style?

Ryan:

He was very charismatic. And he was lecturing on turbidity currents that break each of the cables across the — up in the Grand Banks area following earthquake. I was familiar with this. I had read the published papers, and I had also been studying. But I thought that the turbidites, they were turbidites had been obtained in a core from the central part of the Mediterranean. And so we talked about the dynamics of turbidity currents and the unique waves they make from the ocean floor. My first work here was with Heezen who became my adviser when I was accepted.

Levin:

Did you have a interview with [W. Maurice] Ewing?

Ryan:

No, I didnít meet Ewing until several months into the fall term. In fact, I met him in a quite unusual way. My academic adviser was Jack [John E.] Nafe, who was a theoretician mathematician physicist. And I had, before leaving Woods Hole, I had submitted an abstract for the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America which was going to held in New York. I think in the Biltmore, one of the big ballrooms in one of the hotels. And November rolled around and I was working frantically getting my slides together. In those days usually these were the big lantern slides, doing all the drafting, and handling an incredibly heavy course load. Taking physics, a very tough course in physics. And some pretty heavy math. Complex variables, partial difference equations. And trying to get this talk. And then when the session came around, I noticed just that there on the program giving the talk before me, ahead of me, was Maurice Ewing, the director of the lab. So I first, I had not even seen him before then. He had just come back from an expedition. As a result, the room was jammed. Didnít realize what an important person he was, and the importance placed on his work. And he was reporting the, this world circling cruise of the Vema and the use of this seismic reflection profile. At that time they were dropping charges of dynamite every two minutes from the stern of the Vema, making explosive sounds. And actually the records he put up were pretty poor, compared to what we had obtained on the chain with the equipment that I had been building. And Ė

Levin:

That was the equipment you built in Woods Hole?

Ryan:

At Woods Hole, and we had used in 1961.

Levin:

What did you notice about the difference in the results that came with that equipment?

Ryan:

Well, the results. We were vastly more resolution; expanded the sedimentary layer. So my first reaction was, oh what, are they so excited about this. Then about halfway through his talk; he was assigned twelve, fifteen minutes like we all were. But he talked for about forty. And nobody stood up to shut him down because he was — what he was doing is he was putting up slide after slide after slide. And then I suddenly realized that the importance of his talk was not that quality of his reflection or records taken at any one site but the fact that his ship was doing this continuously all around the world; and so he was putting a global picture of sediment thickness together where we had just sort of done spot experiments in a few basins. And there was a profound recognition, learning experience, that this science is about testing theories or ideas, and equipment is just, not the end all, but the process with which you do this. And Ewing was looking for the big picture. Would be thickness of the sedimentary layer and its distribution, telling about the origins of the oceans. And that was a type of a super found question I had not begun to ask yet.

Levin:

Do you think in a way they were consciously compromising a little bit on the [?] just so that they could have this whole picture?

Ryan:

Absolutely. He was doing a brute force in a crude, but systematic way. And by his methods, he could get, the Vema could steam at a reasonable speed. We were experimenting with making beautiful records and the ship could steam at a much slower speed and making beautiful records. And of course if you were going to get around the world you have to steam going eight knots vs. two knots, thereís a big difference. And that Ewing was the — was doing it the expedient way.

Levin:

Did you notice the difference in the way the equipment was made in order to cope with the speed required on the boat?

Ryan:

Yes. When you, in those days, the problem was making a reliable noise. When Ewing was setting off a charge every three minutes and sometimes only once every ten minutes or so, he called the shots spacing wide apart. So the ship would travel a substantial distance between soundings of sorts. And therefore, of course, he would be coarser that way. And the equipment I was working on would be able to sound every minute, so instead of using dynamite. I mean every second. And instead of dynamite charge every second, we were using, I think, something called a sparkler. We had a generator, shipís generator that would fire up the capacitor banks and we would dump electricity through and electrode towed behind the ship. And that would vaporize the water, and the water would collapse and bubble, and make these explosive sounds. And then the question of how to listen to it. And Ewing, heíd drag a microphone just like this one here, play with it, or blow on it you make static. It picks up noise. And the hydrophone pulling through the water behind the ship picks up gurgling, turbulence noise. And our approach that I was working on was to have multiple sensors strung out in a line that would provide some kind of self-cancelling. This was the first experimentation with what were called arrays, or hydrophone arrays. And Ewing was simply towing a single hydrophone along on a cable like this. That it was ingenious that when the dynamite was thrown over, it cantered down on your fuse in just a few seconds before it would blow up, you slackened, you had this hydrophone on a line on a winch and you would just let the winch pay out.

So the hydrophone for a few second would stop and stay stationery in the water. And the ship would move away from it by paying out the line. So youíd listen for ten seconds, and when you heard the sound come back, you would then crank on the winch, wind in a hundred feet or two hundred feet of slack cable, and then wait for the next. Of course, this required a person, every watch, at the hydrophone, and a couple of other people preparing charges. So it was labor intensive. But it worked. And they were able to get a global record. And I remember at the time of the lecture being stunned because in an editoring at sea we had seen the thickness of the sediments well over a kilometer. In fact, we had gotten a couple of kilometers of penetration; quite remarkable back in 1961 in basins we thought we were quite young. A few million years old. And Ewing was measuring sediment thickness in the, I remember, in the Pacific Northwest Pacific and had a sediment thickness of just a few hundred meters, maybe one tenth of the amount of sediment that we had in the Mediterranean. And those stations were clearly very old. It wasnít sure how old, but could be hundreds of millions of years was the suspicion. So, one of the questions that Ewing was asking at the time was could the ocean floor have been reorganized by volcanism — could it have been paved over in some way.

Levin:

Were you questioning it at that perhaps the methods that he was using to get to those getting such a short sediment layer?

Ryan:

I was always fascinated in technologies and in tools and even in the science of developing instruments and tools here. So, but I think that experience — What I remember most in that experience in the ballroom was the lessons. Keep your head on the big story. On the big picture. And not — you build the tool and use the tools that lead you to your scientific destination. Donít build the tools and save the tool to get these beautiful records. And that was a very useful lesson he taught me without even knowing I was there.

Levin:

But most of your time, of course, you were up at Schermerhorn.

Ryan:

Yes, we were at Schermerhorn, classes at Schermerhorn. I was living in the city. I was newly married.

Levin:

And do you remember you were taking physics classes?

Ryan:

Even though I had majored in physics and minored in math, the program here was high powered and I was taking very tough physics courses. And I had been provisionally accepted here because I had no earth science background. And I was required to pull in a high grade point average my first term. And I remember taking the final exam in physics and feeling that I had really cratered it. And when the exam was mailed to me, just for a week, my wife kept saying, arenít you going to open it? Arenít you going to open it? And I said, no, I said, I donít dare open it. Because you know if I didnít get this minimum grade, I would not be able to register for next term. So I had realized that the big research university, when you majored in physics there, I mean you tended to concentrate in physics and you went much further than you had gone in Williams College. But the first several years of graduate school were a big catch up for me.

Levin:

Did you ever have a class with Walter Bucher?

Ryan:

No. No. But I knew of him and I knew of his relationship with Maurice Ewing. And that, that Maurice Ewing relied on Bucher for his, for his geology. Ewing was a geophysicist, physicist. And my, that first Woods Hole cruise, that first cruise on the chain, one of the places we stopped on the cruise was Beirut and the University of Beirut. We toured. And had folks come aboard. And I met a Dutch [?] magnetician. I had read some of the work that [Keith] Runcorn was doing. It has been published in popular magazines, like I donít know, ĎPostĒ or ďLookĒ or something about magnetic reversals. And I was, to me magnetic reversal, continental drift made a lot, seemed to make a lot of sense. So that early on the Bucher model for the Alps and the geosyncline model of the Appalachians didnít make much sense.

Levin:

And this was in the mid-60s.

Ryan:

This was Ď62. I started here say, Ď62, Ď63.

Levin:

Had you heard about the continental drift debate even before you had been to Columbia?

Ryan:

Yes. I heard about it at Williams College and I attended a couple of lectures on it. I knew well the faculty in the geology department at Williams. Freeman Foot, and there was an ongoing controversy up there in Taconics. Something called the Taconic clip in. Thatís the flush sheet. The argument of whether it had come a long distance and whether it involved sliding down a hill which didnít make any sense. Same thing the water depths were all in the wrong, pointing in the wrong direction. So, whether this involved thrusting and squeezing together the mountain chains. And early on, I donít know whether it was sixty, maybe it was Ď63, Sam Carey from Tasmania, from Australia, wild, also very charismatic lecturer came and lectured on his theory of continental drift and auraclines and spenal chasms and Carey was the very interesting because he was talking about places I had become familiar with. Like the Pyrenees, the Bay of Biscay between Spain and France was one of his spenal chasms and the Bettical Rift Mountain in the Apennines for one of his auraclines. Though his mechanism was weird, the geology showed — The Mediterranean is a fantastic example for continental drift.

Levin:

What did your teachers such as Freeman Foot think of his lecture and the continental drift?

Ryan:

Freeman was very conservative on continental drift. And so it — it was the — well, Walter [Bucher] knows. It was the — it took, it was interesting in a sense that Ewingís resistance, somewhat resistance to it. Put it this way, from a background of physics one could not dismiss shifting plates and continental drifts. And physics and geophysics were tools were geology. And though his lecture at the Biltmore was, you know, to me was about geology, the evolution of oceans. I was somewhat surprised when I later learned how much Ewing relied on Bucher, for example, for grounding in geology. Where I was sort of take the approach, ground yourself in the geology.

Levin:

At Woods Hole was there talk about continental drift?

Ryan:

Woods Hole was marvelous because, I, after the cruise, I worked up in a building, the Blake Building, in an office, working in a lab next to John Graham, who was a paleomagnetician and had a static magnetometer there. We used that to measure the magnetization of sediments there, way back in Ď61, Ď62 one of those. And Carl Bowen who had been a student of Harry [H.] Hessís at Princeton was a geophysicist there. Carl was a quiet, but delightful, very knowledgeable, very, very thoughtful and sweet person. And Carl knew, we talked, and it was always a coffee in the morning. We talked all about the ideas and the ocean floor spreading and his idea of the continental drift. And he was an associate. Woods Hole was very active in studying the western Atlantic. I also worked with a woman there, Betty Bunce, and she and my boss, [John] Brackett Hersey were carrying out refraction reflection measurements in the Puerto Rico trench. Nothing was off limits for discussion. There was always a question, well what do you think and why not and letís go find out.

Levin:

Thatís interesting too that when you got to Lamont, to Columbia, that Bruce Heezen was your adviser. He was one of the worst looking at continental drift.

Ryan:

He was and there was a discussion amongst — You know a lot of people it was a topic for discussion. And in fact, I didnít — again as I say, I sort of kept my eye pretty much on, my focus was —

Levin:

It was on the science.

Ryan:

Well, in what I was — you know, I wasnít paying too much attention. I certainly wasnít paying attention to the politics. And if people asked, when people asked me, I mean what was Ewing doing. I actually thought Ewing was a continental drifter. I didnít look for him as a reluctant about it the way it turned out. He might have been. I went to sea with Ewing in Ď65 where I collected, we collected, under his leadership, the bulk of, a good bit of the data used in my thesis. And that was an expedition that came up to the Red Sea and to the Mediterranean and across the Atlantic Ocean. And we talked about sea floor spreading and continental drift all the time. We talked about the huge evidence of compression. I mean the eastern Mediterranean was an accretionary prism where the sediments on the edge of Africa were being scraped up and full of folds and thrusts and we talked all the time. Ewing never showed much hesitancy there. It was only when we got to Plymouth, England, that I realized he didnít really like the sea floor spreading mechanisms.

Levin:

What happened there at Plymouth?

Ryan:

There were a number of students out with Doe [Ewing]. Jeff [Jeffrey] Fox, a contemporary of mine, and Jeff thought that — Ewing mentioned that he might be getting off in Plymouth. And Jeff thought there was a real opportunity; there was an opportunity maybe that he, perhaps I, perhaps just himself, might lead the ship back across the Atlantic to New York. And we — Jeff was interested in fracture zones. He was really interested in it and rocks the basalts and prototypes and gathering the fracture zone. And Ewing did, told us he was getting off, and Jeff really thought that we were going to do it. And a couple of — a day before we were to sail, a new scientist appeared, Bob [Robert] Houtz from here. It was announced he was going to be our chief scientist.

Levin:

There was a concern that you wouldnít be able to do the experiments.

Ryan:

Well, we had hoped to do some zigs and zags. Put in a minimum of three and hopefully more transects across the axle part of the ridge. And look at the rift valley and the spreading process with the magnetometer. And there was no question that they needed magnetic anomalies that appeared in the Pacific Ocean were Raff and Mason lineations. It was widely talked about, the magnetic anomalies which represented reversals of their fields. Vine and Matthewsí paper and Vineís work. When I, Jeff and I, joined the ship in Aiden, in the Gulf of Aiden and Ewing did not come on until Suez [Canal]. We zigged the ship back and forth across the mid-ocean ridge in the Gulf of Aiden. And there was the mid-ocean ridge meant east-west. And Jack Nafe here taught us our geophysics, had shown us how to calculate the theoretical magnetization. And it was clear that if there a magnetic field, the recent field was normally magnetized, so-called Brunies, that it would produce on an east-west transect; a low latitude, a negative magnetic anomaly. Were on a north south orientation in mid and high latitudes it produces a positive anomaly. And the mafiana would produce a positive there and so on. And within ten hours of Aiden, Jeff and I were running around saying, how can you have these negative anomalies? Wow. At the time, we didnít think this was big stuff. We assumed everybody was thinking about this and doing it. We didnít realize Ewingís hesitancy. So Ewing sent essentially a pouch to go out and dredge the ridge and bring back old rocks, [?] rocks that might refute the spreading hypothesis. So rather than tow the magnetometer, we, so — Itís another story, but itís a disappointment.

Levin:

So while you were at Columbia, you had classes from Nafe in geophysics.

Ryan:

Yes.

Levin:

And he was a theoretician. What was that like?

Ryan:

Well, he was a marvelous teacher. He always derived from principle; derived equations and a beautiful person — A lovely man. And then Heezen taught us our geology of the ocean floor, and that was my exposure to the literature, the importance of scientific literature. We had to read four or five articles every lecture. So it was — I remember those courses. I remember tectonics courses, structural geology courses from Fred Donath.

Levin:

Thatís interesting. Bruce was a geologist and here at the university it was more —

Ryan:

Yes. Well, I was bringing, I was learning geology. I was, you know, I had to remember. You know, so I had to completely learn geology more or less from scratch. I had taken introductory lectures at Williams College, that 101.

Levin:

So while you were at Woods Hole you were working in the Mediterranean, and when you were at Lamont, you had a chance to return essentially to the same area.

Ryan:

Yes. I did. The, my first two or three, summer of Ď62, no, yes, summer of Ď62. No. I went to sea the summer of Ď61 and then in the summer of Ď62 I got invited before actually coming here to graduate school; I got invited back on a Woods Hole cruise. And then in both Ď63 and Ď64 I got invited out for a summer job. So each summer job I got on a research vessel. And then in Ď65 I was able to get on a Columbia research vessel. And that was marvelous cause that was going to come through the Mediterranean and at that point, I had really, you know, I was sort of staking out an interesting. And then the data from the [Robert D.] Conrad in the Med was fabulous. Fabulous cores, fabulous geophysics. And, you know, taken under Ewingís leadership.

Levin:

But it wasnít actually until Ď65 that you went on a Columbia, a Lamont ship?

Ryan:

Yes, that was my first time on a Lamont ship.

Levin:

So you were actually going to Columbia, and then during the summer you would go back to Woods Hole?

Ryan:

Well, I had chances to go to sea. And they were — the invites were from there. The invites werenít here.

Levin:

Were they asking you what was going on at Lamont? Did they have an interest in finding out what was —?

Ryan:

Oh, everybody knew everybody. I mean my boss, former boss at Woods Hole, who invited me back. He had been a student of Ewingís. They were all, all the same club. In fact, I also went one expedition on a one time as a student; I went on a Scripps [Institute of Oceanography] as well. And it was all with the blessing of people here. [Voice fades out].

Levin:

Itís interesting. During this time, it was the sixties, mid-sixties, Heezen was having a great deal of conflict with Ewing. Were you aware of what was going on?

Ryan:

That wasnít until Ď66 or Ď67. Yes, of course, I was a student.

Levin:

The Second Oceanographic Conference.

Ryan:

Yes. I was there in Russia. I attended the meeting.

Levin:

You were there?

Ryan:

So I was there. I was invited. I donít — I was one of a couple of American students picked by the National Academy of Sciences to attend the Congress in Moscow.

Levin:

And you had had Russian training in high school.

Ryan:

I had, in college. I had Russian in college and I had taken a year of Russian at Columbia.

Levin:

So were you fluent at that time?

Ryan:

No, but I could understand a bit and I could read.

Levin:

What happened at that conference? A lot of people claim that —

Ryan:

Oh, I donít want to get in too much. But Bruce [Heezen] gave a paper to which there was a lot of interest that reported the work that was being done by one of his graduate students, Billy Glass. And other people here felt that it stepped a bit on their toes. But I Ė

Levin:

Like [Neil D.] Opdyke?

Ryan:

Well. Iím not going to talk much on this. And then I — at the cause of the nature of the Congress and so on, and because so much of what the Russians were reporting was dull and repetitious and fit this — I remember just being stunned there. I wrote, I had to give a report to the Academy of Sciences, and that was part of my obligation. So I remember, so I took it very seriously. And I must have written about a twenty, twenty-five page report and I think it was to Richard Vetter. And I got a letter back from the president of the Academy really thanking me. Because I gave an — I was kind of bold, but my report was extremely critical of the Soviet science and how oppressive it was. I had to change to meet young Russians and see how they were kept back. And see all the things they couldnít talk about. And all the — And then I was furious, I remember being furious, at Chuck [Charles L. Drake], you know, people here who were part of the International Geophysical Year, who had been on the Upper Mantle Committees and so on. These international organizations of IUGG [International Union of Geophysics and Geodesy], you know, which the Russians were members of. How they tolerated these buffoons from Russia. [Vladimir] Belousov, who preached the most ridiculous geology. But of course with these meetings you would travel around the world. But everybodyís afraid to be critical of the Russians. So the fact that Bruceís talk was covered was that it was one of the few refreshing talks. They were going to a session on magnetism, where all the Russians reporting on magnetics, the source of the magnetics involved deep in the earthís mantle. You know places where itís above the [?] temperature, and thereís no way that these were the remnant magnetization, at those temperatures, those depths. And the chair was — the chair of the session was Ted [Sir Edward C.] Bullard, who knew better than this. And he and Tony [Sir Anthony] Laughton the British there and they just introduced these people and let all this nonsense go on. You know, nobody stood up and said, spring with each other. So I — so the fact that this, you know, with the big story reported in the Time Magazine. It was the big story. It was really the only interesting story of the new, fascinating story of the whole Congress, or one of the few.

Levin:

So what about the other international scientists? You mentioned Tony Laughton who was from England. Were they, you know, presenting papers?

Ryan:

Yes, they presented papers. Ron Girdler presented papers on the mid-ocean. But, here we were hosted in Moscow, a repressive regime politically. All right, itís your own business however political, maybe it was your own business whatever your political views were. But here was a terrible repression going on in science and it was being tolerated by the west and for what? And, you know, if I stood up here at Columbia and made a jerk of myself in a course, the teachers here would take me to task. Or my fellow students would take me in, and the discussions might be quite profane. But this was all being tolerated in this big lecture hall in Moscow. And Ė-

Levin:

Interesting. You mentioned that you wrote a report to the Academy of Sciences. When they asked you to do this, what instructions did they give you as to what to look for or listen for?

Ryan:

Actually the guidelines were nothing. They were little, small. There were a couple Ė- there were two other Americans I met over there. One was Peter Rona, who was a marvelous guy, who was a student at Yale. Peter spoke better Russian than I did, in fact, and gave his talk in Russian. But Peter wrote sort of a travel log, you know, I did this, this, and this, and I went here and saw that. And I saw one of the other students, and I forget who it was. But mine was really —. You know, I quoted from the talks and the abstracts, and really wrote a critique of them, and then a complaint to the Academy, that the Academy was supporting all this. And did they know the damage they were doing. And I was sort of Ė-

Levin:

And they just wrote back thanking you.

Ryan:

Oh I got a very, very sincere note thanking me for not only taking the time but for taking it so seriously. That it was helpful to them. And that —

Levin:

Was it difficult to get a visa to go over for the conference?

Ryan:

I donít remember that it was, no.

Levin:

When Bruce [Heezen] presented the paper at the meeting, did he cite anybody else as working on it? Did he quote often or —?

Ryan:

Oh he told, yes, he told. Yes, he told how it was done. He told the — I donít want to get in too much. But he told, you know that spinner magnetometer up here and John Foster had claimed.

Levin:

So when you got back to Lamont Ė-

Ryan:

And this wasnít — Bruce didnít present this as this was Bruceís work or so on. This was new. This was whatís going on. This is the new stuff. Maybe he emphasized that he was equally fed up with the dullness of the meeting. And this was where we should be going, and the magnetic records should be taken seriously and they existed in cores.

Levin:

The problem was that once you got back, the people had claimed that Bruce had taken all of the credit.

Ryan:

Magnetic reversals. Oh okay, well. Some people did. Some people did. Magnetic reversals had already been found in cores before Billy Glass and Neil [Opdyke] and [?], from Scripps. I had found, not reversals, but magnetization in deep sea cores in Woods Hole with John Graham and that static magnetometer. The cores that had [?] magnetization was not new. What Lamont was incapable of dealing with was really mining these cores for marvelous stratigraphy and a way to date the sediments and wanted a fantastic core collection. So this was, you know, was a new way to date cores. Weíre talking about Ď66 I think, was it? That sea floor spreading was not new. Walter Pitman was making, you know, his famous Eltanin progress, on his Eltanin profile. And so this was, you know, this was new stuff for the readers of Time Magazine. But it wasnít, at least I didnít think it was. But again, I mentioned, I wasnít paying any attention to political things.

Levin:

Well, when you did get back to Lamont, did you see any sort of petitions circulating against Bruce?

Ryan:

Not at the time.

Levin:

And Jeff Fox, another one of Bruceís students, he actually went to Columbia to protest over the way Bruce was being treated afterwards. Did you know about that? Did you go with him?

Ryan:

I went with him. Have you interviewed Jeff?

Levin:

No. I think he — I thought he died.

Ryan:

No. Jeff Fox. No, Jeff heads up the ocean going program at Texas A&M [University]. Three of us went.

Levin:

Who was the third?

Ryan:

David Needham.

Levin:

And you went to talk to the president of Columbia?

Ryan:

Provost.

Levin:

Did he listen to you?

Ryan:

He expelled us.

Levin:

He expelled you — from school? Oh, that must have been a very difficult time.

Ryan:

It was short. It was a short period of time. He didnít believe what we were saying. And he sort of didnít know the politics.

Levin:

Oh. How long were you expelled for?

Ryan:

I donít know. Not very long.

Levin:

Did you work some at Marie [Tharp]ís house, her —

Ryan:

Yes, we were up there a lot. You know, to some extent, you know, it was very sad. It slowed Bruce down. It created, you know, some problems. But the science, excitement, nothing really stopped. I think people — then people made more of it than it. I mean the tragedy was, it was Ewingís, you know, it led to Ewingís undoing here. It created, you know, more paranoia in a place where paranoia was pretty big in the first place. But, you know, the science went on. There was just too much to do, and fun doing it, and it got done. Bruce was advising a marvelous group of scientists, a huge number of students of that vintage had, you know, stayed on, gone on to become world class scientists.

Levin:

At this time youíre also working with [David] Ericson and with [Goesta] Woffin.

Ryan:

Yes. I knew them well, but it was not until some years later, until nineteen seventy two or three — that I got to work with them much closer when I actually moved down to the core lab where they were.

Levin:

Until then were you in Lamont Hall?

Ryan:

No, here in oceanography.

Levin:

Oceanography? Did you have any contact with other biologists, with the marine biologists, [Oswald] Roels or [Robert] Menzies?

Ryan:

Well, I developed a wonderful working relationship here with Barbara Hecker who was a [?] biologist. That was in the mid to late seventies. And then, when I got involved with ocean floor drilling, in nineteen, beginning of 1970, I got very familiar with micropaleontology and worked with a number of micro paleontologists on plankton, the record of plankton from the cores.

Levin:

And you actually wrote your thesis on the Mediterranean Sea.

Ryan:

I wrote my thesis, yes, the floor of the Mediterranean or something like that and published it in two parts; one as a contribution in Floor of the Sea and another contribution to a book called The Mediterranean Sea, edited by Dan Stanley.

Levin:

Thatís interesting. What, having come back. Having been at Columbia actually in the sixties, what was the social environment there? It was, of course, a time of great unrest.

Ryan:

Oh it was marvelous. It was this Student for a Democratic Society and Mark Rudd and campus protests. So you had both worlds. You had a serious, quiet world up here to come up to. And a cantankerous, exciting, politically motivated world, you know — campus to walk through.

Levin:

What did you think of the protests going on?

Ryan:

Well, they primarily came out of the terrible concern for, you know, the big issues of civil rights, Vietnam War. Issues that were important to all of us. And powerful issues. And Ď68 was a horrendous year of assassinations and the convention in Chicago. And the Columbia Trustees seemed to be, you know, aloof. We didnít know too much, you know, what was going on, but —

Levin:

Did you witness any of the sit-ins?

Ryan:

Oh yes.

Levin:

Were you there?

Ryan:

I wasnít a sit-inner, but I was certainly there. I attended the rallies.

Levin:

Of course this is also a time that the environmental movement beginning to become a public phenomena. Were you aware of Rachel Carsonís book Silent Spring?

Ryan:

Oh sure.

Levin:

You read it?

Ryan:

Oh absolutely. Absolutely.

Levin:

Do you remember talking to people about it?

Ryan:

Well, I donít think it was a big. No it wasnít a — No, no, never.

Levin:

When you came back to Lamont from that turbulent setting into the more quiet atmosphere, did you, was it really like leaving a separate world behind? Did you try? Did you have anyone to talk to about the riots or the views of what —?

Ryan:

Oh, no, because your student body up here was all, most of those — many of us living in New York. So, I wouldnít say we were — I was not overly political. I just, you know, itís to learn to think about. I had in — Iím trying to think now the year — it could have been Ď66. Ď66 was probably the year, Bruce Heezen arranged for me to go to the Indian Ocean and be on a cable laying ship, cable ship, cable and wireless, for a cruise from India to Malaysia putting in cable across the floor of the Indian Ocean. And that was an experience. The ship was run by an Indonesian crew, but it was a British ship and it was run very colonial. And I was treated as an officer. I had a fancy state room and a servant. And that colonial environment was pretty, while I was polite because I was representing the university, but it was uncomfortable. To me it was very uncomfortable. And after that I took some time off and I went into, actually, yes because that was Ď66. I went into, I went to Cambodia, spent time in Cambodia. And then I actually went from Cambodia to Moscow for the Congress. And so when the, you know, the whole issues of Vietnam, I had been saved from the Vietnam War. And I felt somewhat guilty about that. You know, I went to college. I had a draft number that was such that I was almost guaranteed a deferment for my work in grad school, but working at Woods Hole with Navy funded research also got me a deferment. And I got off easy. When I look back on it, had I been in the space program and had become a Navy pilot, my life would have been very different.

Levin:

Did you think perhaps that Lamontís direction should have been more environmentally oriented?

Ryan:

Well, no. I think to answer some of these environmental concerns we just needed to know more really good fundamental science. There were the efforts of the environment. The environment. So I was not caught up, say, in the political or social science side of the environmental movement. The squishy — The issue that we were paying attention to here at the time was nuclear waste disposal on the ocean floor. That was an option of waste disposal. I wrote a couple papers in that arena which was funded by the EPA, Environmental Protection Agency. And we used the research vessel Elvin, on Elvin recovered some of the first barrels of waste brought them back up that had been disposed right here off New Jersey. So, I was on a Canadian ship in Bermuda that was boarded and led into leading port by Greenpeace.

Levin:

Really, did they just occupy the ship?

Ryan:

Yes, they tied themselves to different things and were pretty obnoxious. But I wasnít so impressed that that was the way to be really contributing to the movement. But doing really good, trustworthy, repeatable science. The concern with waste disposal on the ocean was, how well would the waste be locked up. And with that, weíre only beginning to realize with heat flow measurements that there were cold water circulations in ocean subs. But that was a fairly major program and the big honcho of this program of this program was one of my fellow students here, Charlie [Charles] Hollister, working up at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. He was a big promoter for disposal of waste in canisters, special canisters in the Abyssal Plains.

Levin:

And I know later on, in the early [Manik] Talwani period they actually had a two day retreat there to talk about environmental, the environmental movement, and Lamontís direction. Do you remember going on that retreat?

Ryan:

No.

Levin:

Letís see. So weíve covered your time.

Ryan:

We were politically motivated. Iím trying to think of the year that it would have been. It was during [Richard M.] Nixonís first term that Ewing and I wrote a letter to Nixon, a political letter. We were definitely political. It was the time of the Arab oil embargo. And Nixon had engaged Edward Teller as a scientific adviser, and Teller was preaching to Nixon self-sufficiency — that the U.S. didnít need the Arabs. That we could — we had this huge amount of coal. We had all sorts of better ways of setting off detonations in the interior, underground, that would turn the tar sands into liquid. And then at the U.S. Geological Survey, the director of the Geological Survey, [?] Kelvey, I think thatís his name had prepared a paper with Charles Masters showing the huge amount of oil reserves, oil to be found on the continental shelves of the U.S. And this was a dreadful paper because it assumed that the amount of oil was at the level of that in the Santa Barbara Basin. They had simply taken a coefficient from the Los Angeles basin, excuse me, and then took a volume of sediments and did this calculation, and got these billions and hundreds of billions of barrels, whatever. Iím not going to get the number right off my head right. But all they had to do was explore the continental shelves. And didnít factor in anything about the evolution of the Marchies and I had been working in Morocco and studying the Atlantic evolution, drilling on the ocean floor and so on. And from our records this just didnít make any sense. And so my father-in-law at the time had a political appointment, had had a political appointment in Kennedyís, back in the Kennedy era. And he knew a Bryce Harlow who was in the White House with Nixon. And gave me Ė- so, I had introductions to Bryce Harlow and to Nixon. And I also knew the Rockefeller family because we grew up in North Tarrytown. And the Rockefeller brothers had, oh what was his — Council on Foreign Relations was it — was supported by them or something. And Teller was a guru also for the Rockefellers for the Council on Foreign Relations. He was influential and I later heard back through the Rockefellers that Teller hit the roof with our letter. So we didnít get anywhere with Nixon, but we certainly tried. And history played itself out that when the east coast was opened up for oil exploration, Georgiaís Bank, and Baltimore Canyon trough, and the oil industry put in maybe a billion dollar in bids and so on in drilling and it all came up dry. And thank God we didnít play the — didnít kiss the Arab goodbye and play the self-sufficient card that Nixon was pushing. But, so we were political. But we were political from being, only from the point of our knowledge of —

Levin:

Did you ever get a note back from Nixon?

Ryan:

Oh we got a thank you note for sending it, but we never got a critique back.

Levin:

Did you ever meet Edward Teller?

Ryan:

No.

Levin:

In 1971 you finished your degree? And was there any thought of going somewhere else to work [cross talk]?

Ryan:

Yes. But I was pretty naive. I was asked to give a talk at Harvard [University] and a talk at MIT, a number of places, which I did. And I never even put two and two together that these were interviews. And so when people asked me what did I want to do, and I said, oh I just like what Iím doing and I like where I am. I mean, I didnít even think. I was, again, I was a pretty naive guy. So I just sort of assumed that I could, you know, this was a good place to do it and just keep doing it.

Levin:

Did Ewing call you in at your graduation or a little bit after? Or was it just assumed that you would just continue on?

Ryan:

I was getting research grants. We wrote proposals for the university. Thatís one of the things that the provost at the time of our meeting was so astonished about. He didnít know that we, that we wrote proposals, that we knew the heads of the funding agencies, in the Navy and in NSF [National Science Foundation].

Levin:

Was that Polykarp Kusch at that time?

Ryan:

Yes.

Levin:

Did you sense that he didnít really understand what was happening at Lamont? The work that was being done?

Ryan:

He hadnít paid enough attention, but he quickly did. Heís a remarkable person. Heís the one that taught that physics that was so challenging and tough. Fabulous person.

Levin:

Of course, a year after you started your work at Lamont as a non-student, Ewing left. Do you remember hearing before hand that he was planning on going to Texas or —?

Ryan:

I was in Morocco at the time of the so-called. No, Ewing.

Levin:

This was in í72.

Ryan:

It was Ď72. No, I was not. No, I was here. I was thinking of Talwani. Oh, I attended that meeting in Lamont Hall where he told people he was going and sort of looked around for people to go with him. But, you know, it never occurred to me to —

Levin:

The ones who did, you know, he was looking at. Did he specifically ask you to go to Texas?

Ryan:

No.

Levin:

But you knew that was not for you?

Ryan:

I was a Heezen student. Ewing was I mean youíve got lots of things. There was a conflict with Ewing and Heezen. But I had a wonderful — you know, I had immense respect for Ewing. And I think Ewing had respect for me and my science. And I learned from both. These are giants. I learned wonderful things from both. And I found it very sad. The whole issue was very tragic. I wish it hadnít happened. I took no pleasure in it happening.

Levin:

Do you remember talks among some of the scientists as to whether they would go? The advantages, the disadvantages?

Ryan:

No.

Levin:

When, after Ewing left, was there a reduction in the tension?

Ryan:

I didnít notice. The tension didnít. There was tension, but thereís tension in the world all over the place. It was not a tension that was paralyzing. We were not paralyzed.

Levin:

When Ewing left and — did he pick his successor? Did he pick Talwani?

Ryan:

I donít know how that was done. I mean that was done essentially by the senior staff, and I was far from being —

Levin:

And once Talwani was in, were there any obvious changes in administration? Or was it [cross talk].

Ryan:

Well, the big change was Talwani, the director, was here in oceanography building rather than sort of aloof over in Lamont Hall. So we saw of more of Manik. I knew Manik well. Manik had been a teacher. So we had a lot of access to Manik. Manik became a dear friend of mine and a very close, personal friend; he and his wife and his children. So the next big, you know, revolution was also very painful to me. That one happened when I was in Morocco.

Levin:

Did you know something was coming?

Ryan:

I didnít know anything was coming. I thought it was terribly badly handled. And the Lamont reaction was that Manik was very badly treated. And the whole cultural aspects that were involved here were just totally read wrong by supposedly very astute Columbia people.

Levin:

So youíre thought was that the cultural miscommunications.

Ryan:

Well, it was much more than miscommunications, but it was. I donít know. I donít want to get into this much. But my advice was not asked for. I was not part of it or a player in it. I was the best close to Manik and tried to be very supportive of him.

Levin:

Did Manik write to you afterwards?

Ryan:

Weíre still close friends.

Levin:

What do you remember of the international collaborations at Lamont? Did you work with any of the South Americans or Africans?

Ryan:

Well, I had a lot of them because of the Mediterranean, my own collaborations. So in the beginning and the late sixties and seventies, I was collaborating abroad. Switzerland, Italy, Egypt, had two seasons, two big programs in Morocco. I had friends here that were Argentineans, and Chilean, Peruvian. You know, just take as a matter of fact, you do global science.

Levin:

What was, I know you were really into sports, was there? What was the social atmosphere at Lamont? Were there chances to —?

Ryan:

Well, there were few women in the student body. That was clear in all branches of sciences. Muriel Grim and then later Ellen Herron. I was married. My social scene was awful, well, to some extent amongst the fellow students. But my wife and I soon got tired of parties that were, you know, where the men would all go off and talk shop. And our first daughter was born in 1966, and we moved out to Palisades [New York], and our social scene basically changed to the neighbors.

Levin:

Were you living at Lamont before?

Ryan:

Living in Manhattan on the west side.

Levin:

Well, I think thatís probably a good place to end at least this first session.

Ryan:

Okay.

Levin:

Just to wrap it up, just one question. Have you had any principles or just any kind of a moral trend or a religious influence that sustained you through the years?

Ryan:

Well, family has sustained me. My parents, my wifeís parents. Children. And friends. And becoming a parent. That part of my life was far more sustaining and rewarding than the science would do but, Iíve noticed from your questions, and the line of questions and maybe because youíre looking for history here. But weíre talking about events or — but I would simply state that the history of this place is the science that was accomplished here. And we really should be talking about the science and how it evolved and changed and how our fundamental thinking changed. And so, you know, itís the importance of the scientific projects, the scientific, you know, the discoveries on the ships I think. In the long run, this is stuff that works its way into textbooks. This is stuff that changes paradigms. Itís not who was director, or who gave which talk at Moscow. Itís the -Ė

Levin:

Would you like to talk a little bit right now about the fundamental changes in thinking?

Ryan:

Yes I can.

Levin:

In terms of the scientific thought around here.

Ryan:

Back in the sixties, the funding here was block funding. Came to the director of the institute. And people tended to pursue areas of science that they were emotional about, that intrigued them, that fascinated them. Projects they could sustain for years or a decade. And so back in the sixties, are the oceans static, are they dynamic are they old, are they young. And the sediment, what degree of the sediments holds the history of the earth. And then the ability to core the sediments by drilling. And go way back in time. And to what degree is the — is that record faithful and complete. And then the recognition that the sediments accumulate at a rate in the ocean sufficient to hold fairly high resolution. To hold the core short-term high frequency changes. And so that there was a treasure chest here of information, and the fact that the lab so beautifully, the tremendous credit of the lab is that the systematic way on a number of fronts the lab and its team went about exploiting this record of the earth. The coring. The fact that it was a policy here to take seven samples every day.

Levin:

Did anyone question that? Why you were doing that? The coring every day.

Ryan:

When you were trained by Ewing, it wasnít that you didnít. It wasnít that you didnít question it because itís authority. You didnít question it because it was, it was the absolutely right thing to do. Because I remember my first time at sea with Ewing. I had become quite an expert at the time on the turbidities. So when we got to the Mediterranean, I had a number of places I want to go and core more turbidities. And I had recommended them to Doc. And we kind of sat around the mess hall or something, one of the first stations I want to go down in a Nile fan. Doc turned to me and said, but you seem to know quite a bit about turbidities. I was kind of flattered. He said, I donít think we should core the turbidities, I think we should core the topographic high.

Levin:

Took you aback.

Ryan:

But Doc, but Doc — And I said, why? He said because you donít know anything about them. We donít know anything about them. The pelagic record. Thatís got the important earth history, not the turbidities. And I remember going to bed pissed and waking up in the morning and thinking, by God, heís right. And so I threw myself in. You know the whole half of my thesis was on a subject I had never started before, pelagic sedimentation and the history of planet change.

Levin:

So people were getting a very broad training.

Ryan:

Ewingís feeling is if you donít know the answer to it, you should be studying in that area. That was Heezenís approach too. And then the fact the pioneer in the area had to retrieve observations back from the ocean floor. How do you get them? And you got them almost always through tools. And tools, and so did you just used somebody elseís tools? Did you buy the tools? Well if you could buy the tools, theyíd probably been already used by somebody else, and maybe the question that youíd been assigned for had been answered. Or you build tools. Now, notice that Ewing, the machine shop here was kept busy building tools. So we were encouraged to think big and build tools. And advance the state of the art through instrumentation.

Levin:

Did you help in designing tools?

Ryan:

So that when we came into this advanced sonar, the swath mapping sonars, the sea marking sonars, we built the ocean floor mapping tools. Some of our tools were the first to go off and look for the Titanic. The sinking of the Thresher. The Thresher submarine sank in 1963. It was extremely sobering to see the navy out there weeks and months unable to find the submarine. And then Lamont, [Xavier] LePichon, and you know, Dillinger, a bag of power that could be towed on the ocean floor, you know, put together in a few weeks and that found the Thresher. And it didnít take a rocket scientist to be able to do this. And they were spending millions of dollars. Just build the appropriate tool for the appropriate problem, and Lamont was good at this.

Levin:

Do you think that can still be done today?

Ryan:

Much less done today. People donít have the time. People donít want to invest a fraction of their career in, you know, consumes a lot of your time. You can be writing papers instead of building tools, and so, no weíre not. Moved away from that mode.

Levin:

What about the technicality of the instruments today? Is it possible for someone to just come in and [?] around it and —?

Ryan:

Itís much harder. Only one of my students has continued in this mode. Margo Edwards at the University of Hawaii. Sheís continued. But, so, you know, the Nephelometer that Ewing, Ed [Edward] Thorndike designed and that found the suspended sediment layer on the bottom of the oceans and talks about, all sorts about bottom currents. And sedimentation dynamics in the ocean. People today go out and drift for these marvelous sedimentary records in the so-called drifts on the ocean floor. They have developed them out of the tools and we were some of the first here. With Bruce Heezen taking out the core and explore the sedimentary drifts around Bermuda.

Levin:

You mentioned before in the early days it was block funding. How has that changed? Is it now assigned; you get money for a particular project?

Ryan:

Now you get money for a particular project. You write a proposal. It goes out to peer review. So and itís become more competitive which is natural. The taxpayer has pockets just so deep. And thereís more geoscience requesting funds. But that tends to lead the safer science. No not, refining science, filling in the details.

Levin:

And so the truly earth-shaking Ė-

Ryan:

Yes. But I donít want to complain. Because, you know, the funding agencies have been very generous to me. I have no complaints.

Levin:

But certainly it has changed.

Ryan:

But it has changed. It has changed.

Levin:

So instead of a person just what you feel like. Itís more what do we think will actually be funded.

Ryan:

Yes. Yes. And how can I assure I can get good reviews from peers.

Levin:

How often has science changed in the years that you were working at Lamont? The big changes in -Ė

Ryan:

Well, it used to be that when you went to sea, you apprenticed. Before you led an expedition, you apprenticed. You may have spent a year at sea or more. I probably spent — maybe some of the peers here, you know, would actually go out for nine or ten months, a year. Mine was spread around. I had certainly been on ships for fourteen, fifteen, maybe eighteen months before I could lead an expedition. And making, getting good data, and getting data that you knew would go into data centers, getting data that you knew would be, not just yours, that it would be shared. And like our contributing data would outlive you. And such. So, that the importance of getting the best data you could, a stewardship of data collection. That has changed.

Levin:

You think now itís more tightly held?

Ryan:

Tends to be much more tightly held people, and tends to be quite taken to fit a perfect, you know, tailored, quite tailored intention. A special hypothesis. And so a hypothesis is not put to rest. Itís not a good one, the data sometimes tends to be less useful on, you know, being able to be collected in such a way that itís useful to develop the alternate hypothesis.

Levin:

Some scientists say the Ewing method of going to sea and taking all the measurements, all the cores you can. Itís —

Ryan:

And taking it thinking that youíre taking it for other people and that maybe half your day or most of the time, you know is not necessarily done for yourself. Itís a more unselfish mode. And keep the big picture not in mind, not the world. You know, at some point we have to concentrate on particular areas. But now, I, you know, I. Now we have, and Iím going to sound like an old fart, but now we have much more of what I call the suitcase scientist. I tend to look down my nose at them. Maybe at my age Iím allowed to now. But in preparing for an expedition, you know, that task is to pick which clothes youíre going to put in your suitcase and which charts you might bring with you. But, you know, not the idea that you mobilize all the materials, all the expertise, all the equipment. So we tend to find ships for technicians paid by somebody else who runs the equipment and who take whatever theyíre given to you. And technicians run them. I know a number of people who write important papers on mapping the ocean floor — they couldnít pass the orals questions I would ask on how this equipment works.

Levin:

But itís more like a vacation than a cruise.

Ryan:

But by vacation, I mean, theyíre doing serious science. But theyíre not, but in the process of doing it, theyíre not unselfishly advancing the state of the art or the state of the science. Theyíre collecting data thatís going to make it quite interesting and sometimes a very useful paper. But, so, Iím in some ways I miss or I take great pleasure in having participated in an year here where John Ewing had to build the — you know, had to direct the building or design and the perfection of air guns so that they could do this mapping of sediment thickness in the oceans. And Mark [Marcus] Langseth had to build and maintain and improve the heat flow apparatus that could actually make heat flow measurements. And he had to work on improving the echo sounder so that he could get more detailed maps of the ocean floor. And then find, you know, do more efficient ways to sample the ocean floor.

Levin:

Certainly you were a lot closer to the actual instruments and you knew what they were doing.

Ryan:

Knew what they were doing. And you knew that many times you had to test equipment. And the way to test them was to take them out to sea. And that you were spending time, discovery time, developing, testing, perfecting, but that was part of the exercise. I just, we got a proposal back that didnít get funded. So itís going to sound like a complaint, but I think it will get funded the next round. It was with a junior scientist here. She was the principal proponent, but itís going to use a brand new technology. It uses, what we call an autonomous vehicle, a vehicle that has a computer brain, put in the water, no wires connected to it, and it goes down to the bottom of the ocean and it surveys. And then twelve hours later, a day later it comes up to surface, you collect it, and you get your results. And it sure beats towing these instruments on long cables to do that which we did last for. And the idea is to do a magnetics profile survey across the rift valley. And once the reviewers came back and said, the science is absolutely fabulous, but the investigatorís capable. But rah, rah, rah, rah. But the instrumentís not totally proven. And unless it can be one hundred percent guaranteed that itís going to work and work continuously, it should not be funded without that guarantee. And I look at them, and I say, where have you been? When do we every guarantee that our instruments are going to work perfectly the first time we use them. But if we never use them the first time, we never use them the second time.

Levin:

That might have been the case that instruments do break down.

Ryan:

Do break down sometimes. But whatís remarkable is the number of instruments that have gone out and in fact worked. Itís amazing because experienced people put to the test know they have to do it this way. So, you know, that criticism clearly comes from the arm chair science, sort of a suitcase scientist, who was hired through political to be in charge of all this.

Levin:

Of course, itís still very — probably more expensive to get a ship out to sea to run your experiments. So thereís an overlap of experiments on a given boat, isnít there?

Ryan:

Yes.

Levin:

But say now, a scientist just handles his or her work as opposed to monitoring perhaps the other instruments aboard?

Ryan:

Thatís right. Yes, and I miss that era too. When your watch was checking off all these instruments that were working. And some were, you know you might go up to the bow and change a filter in some kind of a pump that Dave Folger was using for sucking in air out of the atmosphere to look at dust. Dust. Or towing a net for some biology and you did it because it was done. It was done every day.

Levin:

And you got a better feel for what everyone else was working on.

Ryan:

Thatís true. Thatís true.

Levin:

Howís going to sea different now? Do people stay out for short times?

Ryan:

Well the ships have gotten bigger. Theyíve gotten more comfortable. The tools have gotten more high tech. More and more computers. Weíre seeing a social change on the ships, particularly with the introduction of computers. And I donít want to put down computers because I was one of the first to take computers to sea. But you now can go into a lab at sea and there will be three or four people sitting at terminals, you know, and just donít look up to chat, how are you, good morning. Just type away.

Levin:

What was it like on the ships before the computers, before that? [Cross talk]

Ryan:

Well, everything was taken in notebooks, and things were read off the records. And in some ways, you know, since weíve had computers, there have been times where that instrumentís gone out, collected bogus data for two months until the tapes are finally. Nobody realized that something was set up right. Where back then you were instantly. You had to check it every ten minutes, every fifteen minutes. But we can do much better with computers. So thatís good. But it has changed, it has changed the culture.

Levin:

Was there any recreation aboard these ships?

Ryan:

Yes. Thereís always been recreation. But, you know, poker, card playing, darts, in some ships ping pong. That hasnít changed too much. R & R was primarily in port. Certainly I know when I was on the Conrad or the Vema, there was — you were getting three or four hours of sleep a night, a day, every twenty-four period, and the rest was work.

Levin:

But now.

Ryan:

Social life was talking at the dinner table or something like that.

Levin:

Now when people are working, itís not so much the interaction between people, interaction between computer and person.

Ryan:

I think so. I think thereís less camaraderie built. But maybe thatís — Now one of the things that has happened thatís wonderful is the opportunity for women, you know, to get to sea. And thereíll be much more, I think. Many more women into the science. And women as chief scientists, leading expeditions.

Levin:

I know Ewing didnít want women on the ships.

Ryan:

At one time, yes.

Levin:

Marie Tharp was able to go after that period?

Ryan:

Well, she went out on a Navy ship, on the Kane, got on that expedition in 1968. And one of my first chief scientists was Betty Bunce at Woods Hole.

Levin:

What about changes in collaboration in the way —? Of course, you say that thereís been an international collaboration, but has there been shifts in patterns going to different regions to try to [?] science or the way in which the collaborations are appreciated or —?

Ryan:

Well, generally internationally, the collaborations that really work are at the root level. A scientist knows a scientist. They can find a way to work together. The ones that come top down; excuse me. [telephone interruption].

Levin:

So the collaborations were better at the root level rather than top down?

Ryan:

Yes. So that the — Weíre seeing today more letís say with the International Climate Institute and others the sort of bilateral agreements between agencies, between countries. Where, which has a lot of its own merits, can sometimes take things much further than individuals can do. But the one on one collaboration is immensely rewarding personally. And then training students from other countries is very, very rewarding. You know, see your graduate students disbursed around the world and doing fabulous science.

Levin:

And you trained some of those?

Ryan:

Yes. Yes.

Levin:

Do you see any difference in the way that they come prepared to do the science? Is there a particularly different style doing science, national science?

Ryan:

Oh yes. Thereís quite, quite —

Levin:

Do you want to give an example?

Ryan:

Well, Iíve been recently doing work in Eastern Europe in collaboration with the Navy. And there where people have been hampered by a very repressive political regime until not so long ago so that fantastic intellects werenít able to really do a lot. But they struggled and tried to accomplish, did accomplish some pretty remarkable things. And now, you know, with the more openness, of course, little countries like — Theyíre broke. I just recently was notified I have an award from NSF [National Science Foundation] which is going to let me next year do a collaborative expedition in French.

Levin:

Did you see the top down collaborations as more politically motivated rather than?

Ryan:

In some ways. You know, thereís politically, economically, there are reasons for them. But they often end up doing an enterprise that, you know, is interesting on its own merits, but fails Ewingís first test. Is it a fundamental problem? You know. Letís ask the difficult questions. We always did. And we had a difficult ocean to get data out of. So, and the ones, you know, the exciting ones, the really fascinating ones, the ones that worked themselves. I always have — my bottom line is, because Iím a teacher, what is this? These journals that come out and they fill your bookcase, you know, three feet of journals. I subscribe to about three feet of journals a year, just what I subscribe to. And what ends up in the textbook? What ends up in the textbook? Those are the important things. And oneís career is — one feels remarkably well if one of your things ends up in a textbook. And if three or four of your things, different things you did end up in a textbook, wow, thatís marvelous. And thatís the kind. We should always have our eye for that.

Levin:

And you began in your professorship in Ď79?

Ryan:

I canít remember. Something like that. Yes. Yes. After Bruce Heezenís death, then I started to teach the courses.

Levin:

Were there more openings for senior staff to go into teaching?

Ryan:

Well, I didnít join the faculty. I stayed as a research scientist. I just taught adjunct. There was limited opportunity. The faculty has grown slowly.

Levin:

Interesting talking about the way oceanography and the study of the sea has been sold to people. Certainly Woods Hole has done a good job, and Scripps, at publicity. And you recently — you have a video out thatís on The Flood. How do you see publicity working and do see it as a gimmick or as a just a way —?

Ryan:

No. Well, thatís a good question. No. Letís see. [crosstalk] Iíve been involved — deeply involved — in four documentaries and as advisory to two others. The one Iím most proud in I appear only as decoration. Thatís The Voyage of the Minnie. That was produced by public television, Bank Street College, a fourteen part series for kids on using oceanography. A young grandchild taking a sailing voyage with his grandfather to teach science. And it was a fabulous vehicle for teaching, and won all sorts of awards that it deserved. But, I mean do you have some math, physics?

Levin:

Yes.

Ryan:

All right. Do you know the difference between polar and cartesian coordinates? Well imagine teaching polar and cartesian to, you know, third graders. But when you throw a pitch in from center field to home plate, youíre throwing it on polar coordinates. And if youíre walking the streets of Manhattan, youíre walking in rectangular, cartesian coordinates. So if youíre out on a ship, and the shipís navigating a latitude and longitude, but youíre looking for whales, your natural world is doing this and itís done with a way to have students doing this, seeing this, laboratory exercises, where it all was self-discovery. That was one. And then that was part of an NSF documentary, Keyhole to the Universe or to Eternity. I forget the name but way back in the seventies. And it did, at the time, took six scientists from biology to physics to genetics. I was the oceanographer. My oceanography was all being done in a desert in Morocco. I was essentially using dried out river valleys in Morocco to look at a hundred and fifty million year old former sea way and studying reefs and rocks. And it was fantastic, because it showed essentially how science was done. And at the time none of the scientist were famous, and four of the scientists have gotten Nobel Prizes. One was Carl Sagan. And so, and that touched everything from particle physics to the population blooms of butterflies and, you know, frapples. Who knew back in the seventies? So there was a fabulous teaching. That taught essentially the lay audience on television. And now this Black Sea is, the Flood of the Black Sea, is the vehicle that essentially weíre using to essentially bring humanities, try to bring humanities and sciences together, this sort of marvelous overlap. Worked out both contribute to each other. And itís kind of bold. Nobody would ever say that you could use it and that mythology and science should be mixed but that mythology in this case helps the science. And the science, marvelously, endows the mythology. So thatís a — you know. So the publicity, you call it publicity, but itís really, itís really an opportunity to open your classroom to a much larger audience.

Levin:

As a teaching tool.

Ryan:

A teaching tool. Itís a teaching tool.

Levin:

As well as teaching the public. That was interesting in The Flood video, the interplay between the mythology and the biblical settings as well. Do you think that there was a good correlation between the stories and what you found in the sea?

Ryan:

Thereís something certainly for the scholars to pay attention to. And in the number of arenas. And of course one of the arenas is this of oral tradition, can things that happened or the way people, their belief systems, be passed down for significant periods of time prior to writing? Having a history thatís contained in words. And thatís an area of scholarship thatís being worked on today at a wonderful institute in Missouri. But, you know, they explain Homerís, you know, how Homer, supposedly a blind bard, could compose these immensely long poems that could be recited was remarkable endurance, you know, consistency, without in the absence of writing. So thatís an area where I think science and humanities can come together.

Levin:

Have you done that or have you conjectured that perhaps science does relate to these mythologies or even the Bible stores?

Ryan:

Well, weíre very — weíre being quite careful or trying to be careful — the proof will be in pudding. We have a flood whose existence is reduced from geological to physical evidence as a event that took place in the real, took place in a real location and at a real time, and certain properties. And we have a flood thatís referred to in a number of myths. To say the two are the same is just an assertion. So that what I think is the learning experience is that thatís just an assertion, thatís not useful. How would you go about doing the, making association, other than through an assertion? Use the scientific method, and say all right, you think the understanding of an actual phenomenon makes a prediction, and then is that prediction supported when you go to look. Or from the natural, from the mythological side, does the story have anything that of a special uniqueness to it. As an allegory. And what is that story to really try and see? What is its central mythological method? Taking away the decorational things, and then going and saying, all right, does your, is there anything to do with the, the geological event that is relevant to the central message. You know, things that would have been persistent. You know, so weíre cutting new territory in a sense, and I donít think were [voice fades] he all and end all. But were treading in a field I think. And, you know, maybe the scholars ten, fifteen years from now will tell us whether we did it dreadfully or they give us fair marks. I donít know.

Levin:

Thatís interesting. Actually, in the early stages of geochemistry here, it was headed by a lot of the people that were coming from Wheaton College.

Ryan:

Yes. Thatís right.

Levin:

In fact, they were called the theochemists.

Ryan:

Thatís right.

Levin:

Larry [J. Laurence] Kulp and others. Did you see that as somewhat similar?

Ryan:

Oh no.

Levin:

Or completely different?

Ryan:

Completely different. The Genesis story here is, from our view, is being treated as, you know, literature, not as an article of faith.

Levin:

So they were actually — They wanted the science to conform to it. Instead of doing the science and seeing how it collaborated or how it compared to the stories in the Bible or the mythology? Over the years, what do you think has made Lamont work as a research school? What has contributed to its success?

Ryan:

By and large the people here like each other, and respect each other enormously. So it has a sense of camaraderie and collaboration thatís really quite special and gives you the impression that anything, practically anything here is possible. If you donít understand something, you find out about it, because thereís somebody next door or down the next building can help you get started. Give you darn good advice.

Levin:

You see this as being really multi-disciplinary? For instance —

Ryan:

Yes.

Levin:

— can really talk to someone in oceanography.

Ryan:

Thatís multi-disciplinary. Yes. But the university itself is multi-disciplinary, or part of the university.

Levin:

But the disciplines arenít isolated?

Ryan:

No. Weíre not isolated, but it takes certain attitude to, I mean. I mean, you can have disciplines that share, you know, are floors apart that you can be — or departments that are floors apart which can be isolated from each other. So it takes a willingness or an eagerness to move across those boundaries. I think going to — the ships make a difference. I think the fact that many of us, say in my generation, have spent so much time together at sea that thereís special friendships and bonds and respect built this way. We know each other and our families; we know each otherís children.

Levin:

The ships would bring people together. Of course, also the cafeteria would do the same thing.

Ryan:

The cafeteria helps, Though, I know itís a money loser here, but it helps certainly. Gives us the opportunity to sit down next to anybody, introduce yourself. Talk with students. But not everybody uses it. There are some people who would never use it. The seminars.

Levin:

What more, do you think about the science that we havenít covered? Major breakthroughs that you see. What do you see as the most important breakthroughs that come out of Lamont?

Ryan:

Well, using the sediments as records of global change, climate change, and geological change. Using the geophysical data to show and then, [?] and then map the whole opening and evolution of the oceans. The leaders in the putting together the drilling program to go on. To obtain a two hundred million year history of the oceans. Then the gradual perfection of technology so that we can now, that can eventually map the ocean floor today to the resolution as great as we can do on land or we can do from space.

Levin:

What did you think when Bruce [Heezen] and Marie [Tharp]ís Ď77 map came out?

Ryan:

Well I was — I played a role in that. Bruce I think had a premonition that he was going to die. He had a heart problem. His father died early of a heart attack. And he came to me. Though I had distanced myself — not personally — but, you know, having been his student, I thought it was necessary to state your own track as a young scientist. We were always great friends, but he came to me, oh the year before he died, and asked me to go on an Elvin diving cruise with him. And then mid-way through the cruise he found an excuse to get some ship to take him off, take him away, and essentially, which was — I didnít know it was happening until it happened and he turned to me, and said, well youíre going to have to do this on your own. And then deployment on the NR-1, he turned over a bunch of things to me. It was — at the time it seemed strange. But so his big map with Marie was unfinished. And so I worked with Marie to get it, get the funding in place and so on, and finally get it together and get it out to Milwaukee and get it printed. Expensive, complicated process. And one instant Marie stopped, something you never do, she stopped the press. There was something, she saw some number she wanted to change. That was forty thousand dollars stopping the press. But at the time, we published two maps simultaneously. That metric map and then that as an overlay to a sediment, to a sediment map of the worldís oceans which was done by one of the graduate students. So that was very emotional, working with Marie in Bruceís absence, and getting that final map finished. And then the fantastic acclaim the map got. But as maps go, I find the older, the first one, the North Atlantic Physiographic Diagram is more, more marvelous.

Levin:

Because it was so.

Ryan:

It was the very first. The whole style she had developed, the physiographic style, she adapted from. And the fact that it was, the Atlantic was put together from a far more sparse spatially data set than the others were. And the degree to which she got, you know, so much of the story correct. And then also the fact. I mean, we memorize those maps. I mean, they, those oceans are memorized. So when you, if I ask you about Manhattan and how do you get across Central Park and you start to describe me a route you take. Youíve walked it, youíre seeing it. Youíre telling me through this scene going through your eyes. If I tell you how do I get across from Cape Hatteras to Dakar, I can only, you know, the waterís never been pulled apart. So I tell you that through the physiographic diagrams. Thatís, that is the world. Thatís interesting. The map is not the representation of the ocean floor. That map is — itís going to sound weird — but is in some ways the ocean floor. Itís our only multi-dimensional picture of it.

Levin:

And you have that in your head, that map.

Ryan:

So itís in our head. That map and every subsequent revision to it.

Levin:

For instance, [William] Haxbyís sea.

Ryan:

So then all that comes through. Yes, all that further added to it.

Levin:

What did you think about the development of the satellite imaging?

Ryan:

Oh that was fabulous. To quote Bruce, the very ribs of the earth were laid bare. I didnít think it was going to come in my lifetime. I didnít think the swath mapping would come in my lifetime. That I would have these remarkable detailed images of the ocean floor. Hanging here on the wall. Whoops. Thereís an image there. Behind the picture, that historic image. Thatís a stereo picture of the axis of the spreading, where the crack is puffing apart in the East Pacific rise. That was made in 1983. At that time, that was a superior resolution than any satellite or space image here at the; even those super spy satellites. This was, and this was the ocean floor, so I never — I always wanted to build such an instrument, but I didnít think it would happen in my lifetime.

Levin:

You always wanted to build it, but you never thought it would.

Ryan:

I always liked building instruments since that first job at Woods Hole.

Levin:

So you, you helped Marie actually get the funding for that map.

Ryan:

Well we got the final funding together. Because Bruceís, I mean, we all do this, but his accounts were pretty spent out. And so financially the affairs were not the strongest financial situation. So, you know, we got that back on level floor. Kept Marie funded. The Navyís generosity was fabulous, fabulous. Iím immensely grateful to the Navy. And they adored Bruce as much as I did. And but this was, there was only one printing press in the world large enough to print this map. Only one. It was a complex, technical process.

Levin:

Was this done by the National Geographical?

Ryan:

Oh no, no. No. This was painted by an artist in Austria.

Levin:

[Henrique] Barren.

Ryan:

Barren. And same one that painted that, painted the Mediterranean.

Levin:

Did you work on any of the maps?

Ryan:

Just the preliminary sketch work and [?] in preparing all the sounding sheets, and those kind of things.

Levin:

This particular map, though, was put together on the basis of what data was available?

Ryan:

Yes. But it was, it was, again, from the Lamont approach. Ewing and Heezenís approach of the big picture. How does it work? Think of the conceptual way. And test it. I mean, if you tested your conceptions. If you understand turbidity currents and how they work, well then you know how to draw in the Abyssal Plains. And if you understand sea floor spreading, you know how to draw in the ocean ridges. And if you understand subduction and accretionary prisms, well then, four or five tracks across the Mediterranean ridge is really all you need. So that a new way of doing it.

Levin:

Just looking at the big picture, then all the preparations going from one ocean to the other, is really just waiting to put out this world map.

Ryan:

Yes, the Indian Ocean came last because of the Indian Ocean expedition was late. The National Geophysical Year which drew a lot of attention to Antarctica, brought a lot of ships into the South Atlantic and the North Atlantic was the first, because of the transects or most of the voyages out of Woods Hole, the old Atlantis had been in the Atlantic Ocean. So as the data, followed the putting together of the data. But when you look at that and you look at the Alps, you have the feeling that Europe and Africa are colliding. The jaws there are squeezing shut. And thatís been the continent as simple as that. So that map was painted before plate tectonics. Yet it expresses all of the aspects of it.

Levin:

Well, thank you for the session.