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October 10 2012
By his own admission, Bob Ballard is a heretic. "If I were in Tunisia, I'd be toast," he said. He likes to disprove conventional wisdom, and throw out textbooks (metaphorically speaking).
In graduate school in the 1960s he was part of a wave of young researchers who established the existence of plate tectonics. In 1979 he found black smokers, vents on the ocean floor that spew out water from within the Earth, which wasn't previously thought possible. He has helped find new and unknown life forms around deep sea vents, which "threw out the textbook" on biology and the origin of life, which was previously thought to have originated from energy captured from sunlight.
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