Exploration is not a field of science but can result in the discovery of new data for scientific analysis. Anyone can be an explorer and it is not necessary to have previous scientific knowledge in any way. However some of the greatest scientific minds were involved in exploration or involved in an expedition which lead to a Eureka moment. Expanding one’s mind is something which can be difficult if confined in an isolated environment. The need for exploration helps us to understand how the ideas and concepts we are familiar vary or relate to other parts of our world.
The term “eureka” is most notably credited to Archimedes, a Greek alchemist who was tasked by the king to determine if his crown was made of solid gold or mixed with silver. It is said that Archimedes was pondering how to solve the problem when he was at a public bath house, and after submerging himself in the tub and examining the water displacement he received a revelation. This was that the displacement of the water from the crown could be analyzed to that of a gold bar and a conclusion could be made. Upon discovering this concept Archimedes is reported to have jumped out of his bath and ran through the city naked yelling “eureka”!
Unfortunately, this story is most likely a myth upon further analysis, however its principles can still be applied to the concept of making a scientific revelation. The first recorded transcription of this story did not occur until 200 years after the death of Archimedes by a Roman author Vitruvius. In addition the methods described by Vitruvius could not have accurately determined the volume of gold contained within the crown.
Exploration as classically described consisted of primarily the exploration of the land and sea as well as continents. Although this was the basis for the Age of Exploration it is limited to the spaces humans are able to inhabit. As such today we have a concise knowledge of our geographical inhabitable zone and can observe and view most of this through satellites from space. In modern times space exploration and deep sea exploration are the two primary areas of interested, with an intensive governmental focus on the former. Notable explorers throughout history consist of Charles Darwin, Ferdinand Magellan, Sir Francis Drake, Hernando Cortes, Christopher Columbus and Lois and Clark.
Types of Exploration
Today exploration can be classified in divisions which are currently being pursued for historical, consumer and governmental purposes. These include the following:
Arctic exploration refers to a time when the exploration of our planet above the arctic circle was being conducted. The earliest known historical records of arctic exploration have been traced back to 325 BC by Greek sailors. Exploration attempts in the Arctic region have been met with much natural opposition making it very difficult for explorers to traverse the terrain by land and sea. Additionally it is believed that the vikings from Scandinavia helped contribute in large part to arctic exploration in the 10th century.
Cave exploration is an event which has become a sport in modern times and is referred to as either caving or spelunking. This activity consists of the recreational exploration of cave systems however there is another version of cave exploration which is conducted scientifically. The study of the environment of caves is called speleology which generally consists of geologists and biologists. Recently a giant crystal cave was discovered in Mexico under the Naica mountain which has become an area of research for many speleologists.
Exploring a desert environment is a peril ridden expedition for even the most savvy survival expert. By nature deserts are among some of the harshest environments found on the planet Earth. Throughout history the exploration of deserts has struck tragedy among myriad explorers attempting to venture in arid habitats. Although scientific exploration is often difficult in these areas, there are a limited group of individuals who are native to desert environments, often called desert dwellers.
Oceanography is the study and exploration of the ocean including organisms, ecosystems and geology. In ancient times the primary focus of this field was to map and discover ocean boundaries and land. Today deep sea exploration is deemed to be one of the last frontiers along with outer space. Earth’s oceans include areas of extreme environmental conditions including those in the Mariana Trench which is the deepest known spot on Earth. Explorations into these types of regions continually discover new life forms and curiosities for biologists and geologists alike.
Space exploration is considered to be one of the last truly unknown frontiers of exploration for humans. Exploration of celestial events requires sophisticated and advanced technology to allow astronomers to gather data to draw conclusions from its analysis. Astronomy, despite its vast advancements in technological tools throughout recent years, is still incapable of viewing most of the universe visually. Early advancements in space exploration were spurred on by the Cold War between the United States and Russia where each nation’s military struggled to out compete its rival, later deemed the “space race”.
Urbex is another term used for urban exploration which generally consists of exploring underground regions of urban areas such as sewers, tunnels and ruins but can also include abandoned buildings, alleys and other surface areas of a city. This type of exploration is used by many as a recreational sport but it has also been known to press the discoveries of lost historical sites and relics in some instances. Despite its recreational desire, urban exploration is still questionable in regards to legality and safety concerns, with some deaths cited to storm drain flooding during an exploration attempt.