Recent Stories

See Ben’s blogs for the Huffington Post, on topics almost as varied as those he covered during his years as a newspaper staff writer.

Here are some other links to Ben’s recently published articles, many of which have to do with the sub-aquatic world, an area of expertise Ben developed from writing SEALAB:

* “The Other Final Frontier,” a New York Times Op-Ed, raises questions about how the U.S. has long favored manned space exploration over ocean exploration.

“SEALAB’s 50th Anniversary Could Use Some Celebration Too,” a blog entry for The Huffington Post in which I lament that SEALAB’s golden jubilee, despite the project’s game-changing significance, was allowed to pass with scarcely a tweet.

* “The New Wave of Underwater Hotels,” a photo essay I put together for The Huffington Post, got quite a few “likes” and “shares,” which I suppose suggests there may indeed be a vibrant market for sub-aquatic accommodations.

“Sea Base Alpha,” my feature story in the June 2012 issue of Discover magazine, is almost like an epilogue to my book in that it describes the continuing efforts to build on the SEALAB-era advances that made sea bases and long-duration dives possible. I have to say this story looked a lot better in the print magazine than it does online, but the words are all there, so . . .enjoy!

* “The Closure of Aquarius Reef Base and America’s Scientific Ambitions,” a piece I wrote for The Huffington Post, follows up on the possibility raised in my NYT Op-Ed that the world’s only SEALAB-style marine research base might lose its federal funding.

* “Is Dusk Descending on Aquarius Seabase?” This article for Pacific Standard magazine’s online edition adds some key fiscal details to my Huffington Post piece and to other media reports that followed it during the summer of 2012, when moves were being made to save Aquarius.

* “The Hunt to Catch the Giant Squid – On Film.” Who knew this creature had never been filmed in the wild? With this piece for Pacific Standard magazine’s online edition I had some fun bringing readers up to speed on this unusual cinematic venture.

* “How Humans Learned to Live Under Water” is a story I wrote for the tech website Gizmodo to provide some historical and technical background for the site’s multi-faceted coverage of the July 2012 mission at Aquarius Reef Base. I also helped out with a related story about how NASA uses Aquarius to train astronauts.

* “Don’t Hold Your Breath; Why manned undersea exploration is dead.” In this essay, posted in Slate magazine on Sept. 17, 2013, I explain the fits and starts that have characterized efforts at sub-aquatic exploration over the past half century, and how nothing much seems to be changing, even as the ocean remains largely unexplored. My 2,000-word essay was part of a month-long Slate series on the future of exploration.

* “Ocean Technologies for the Next Era of Exploration.” This package of nine stories for Men’s Journal.com shows how leading developers of undersea technology are pushing the sub-aquatic envelope – despite the fits and starts in ocean exploration programs I recently described in my essay for Slate.

* “Hybrid Airship Could Launch Shipping Revolution,” or, as titled on page 12 in Discover magazine’s November 2013 print edition, “Super Fly: Hybrid Airship Aims High.” This front-of-the-book story explains the thinking behind the Dynalifter, a new breed of airship.

* “Fabien Cousteau Sets Aquatic Record, Lives Underwater for 31 Days.” A news story for Parade magazine, posted online July 8, 2014, about the just-completed mission of Jacques Cousteau’s grandson at the Aquarius Reef Base. Also posted at Parade.com is my accompanying Q & A with Fabien: “I’m a Realist, But a Hopeful Realist.” Especially cool – and totally unexpected – was when he told me that he and his crew took a copy of my book with them on their mission.

* “Is the Final Frontier Under the Sea? Before We Got to the Moon, Americans Made Scientific History Exploring the Ocean Floor.”  An essay for the Los Angeles-based website Zocalo Public Square that points out how Fabien Cousteau’s “Mission 31,” which wrapped up on July 2, 2014, at the Aquarius Reef Base, has historical ties not only to Jacques Cousteau, Fabien’s grandfather, but to SEALAB. It was 50 years ago, in July 1964, that SEALAB I opened the door to the kind of sea dwelling that’s gone on at Aquarius and elsewhere.

* “String theory is a cosmic yarn” (as originally headlined in print) is an oldie but goodie from my daily newspaper years about a day I spent at a major physics conference among the world’s top string theorists. As the date indicates, the story’s been online since the dawn of Google – as you can perhaps tell from the somewhat gawky appearance and the links to nowhere. The original front-page newspaper story was apparently copied and posted by a tech-savvy conference participant. No simple way to share such content at the turn of century, but, hey, hang around a bunch of physicists and they’ll figure it out . . .