It’s hard to comprehend what the Challenger expedition did for the scientific community and natural sciences in general. It would not be out of line to even claim that the Challenger voyage single-handedly founded the sciences of Oceanography and Maritime Geology (Corfield, xiii). After this expedition the world saw a transition from Victorian science, which consisted of naturalists doing experiments as a hobby (Koslow, 23), to modern science we know today. The Challenger made many scientific discoveries that impacted Oceanography as a science along with other areas. The purpose of this paper is to look at the discoveries that the Challenger made and see the ramifications of these findings. First we will take a look at the historical context of the voyage and the objectives it was assigned. Next will look at the scientific discoveries the Challenger made on its journey across the world’s oceans. We will also look at the methods that were used in making those discoveries and made them possible. Finally will see exactly what kind of impact this voyage had on the scientific community. We know that the Challenger did not just hoist their anchors and sail off hoping to find discoveries. There was a certain chain of events that led up to one of the most scientifically important expeditions of all time.
The Challenger expedition was the brainchild of Charles Thomson and William Carpenter (Koslow, 23). In 1871 these men and others in the Royal Society set about putting their expedition into motion (Koslow, 25). This was no easy task. Back in the Victorian era most governments in Europe were not keen on making expenditures in the name of science (Corfield, 2). But with Germany, Sweden, and the United States all planning maritime expeditions Britain’s national prestige and reputation as a leader in maritime science was in jeopardy (Koslow, 25). This was all the motivation the House of Commons needed to appropriate funds for the voyage in April 1872 (Koslow, 25). The...
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