Authors@Google: Brad Matsen

Uploaded by AtGoogleTalks on 25.11.2009

>>Well, good afternoon everyone, and welcome to another Outstanding Authors at Google talk.
If you look at some of our recent products that we've launched everything from, you know,
Google Earth on the Moon to now Google Earth on the Ocean, we have a really big focus on
exploration and making information accessible to everyone.
And this tradition in the oceans, really you know got its start
and got its major push with Jacques Cousteau, the famous ocean explorer.
In fact, if you make a visit by the Googleplex right now we have
a temporary loan of a sculpture of Jacques Cousteau
along with other ocean -- ocean pioneers. And so, you know, we have a firm connection
with the sea. And so today our talk is on the man himself,
on Jacques Cousteau, his life, his family. We're joined today by Brad Matsen who is a
famed ocean author, and he'll be speaking to us about his latest
book which is all about Jacques Cousteau, Jacques Cousteau, the Sea King.
So after our talk we'll have some time for some questions and answers, so please use
the mikes for our YouTube audience. Without any further ado, please join me in
welcoming Brad. Thank you very much.
BRAD MATSEN: Hi everybody. Like the rest of the world, I live with Google
everyday, and this is my first time in the throbbing
heart of it. And it’s just thrilling to see.
I haven't walked around it. It took me forever to find a place to park
until I found a guy who parks the car for you, which was very good.
The business of navigating through places that no one has ever been before is your life;
you do this. This is what you do, I assume, here.
Someone told me this is the area where a lot of engineering goes on.
You make it possible for us to push a button, and we're on the moon.
And now that Sylvia called your bluff on the oceans, we can look at the oceans.
Jacques Cousteau was the son of a French lawyer and a wealthy woman who was the daughter of
a wine grower of -- a grape grower who made wine near Bordeaux,
France. And he was born in 1910;
travelled all over Europe with his father, who was a factotum for wealthy American ex-patriots.
Eventually ended up in flight school where he was about to become a fighter pilot and
had a car crash which almost crippled him. And he was reassigned as a gunnery officer
-- this is right at the beginning of World War II --
reassigned as a gunnery officer on a cruiser near Toulon, France,
where he lived with his wife, and by the late '30s, his son, Jean-Michel, his oldest son,
and his son Philippe. And Cousteau met a man named Philippe Tailliez,
who noticed Cousteau was having trouble adapting to physical therapy he was being given for
the wounds that he suffered in a car crash. And Tailliez says, "Gee, you know, you really
ought to consider going spear fishing with me.
It might be a really good way to get plenty of exercise."
So Cousteau started spear fishing and ran into another spear fisherman who was very
famous on the Rivera at the time -- and this is skin diving; they're not diving
with tanks. There was no underwater breathing at this
time except for hardhat diving and some very restrictive devices that had been pioneered
ever since Jules Verne wrote 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
I don't know if anybody's familiar with that. But, really, a remarkable, urgent need that
people had to go underwater, find a way to breathe and swim free;
and Cousteau was obsessed with it. He was also obsessed with making movies.
When he was 13-years old, he was kind of a shy kid, very mechanically inclined, built
models, loved to tinker, would be in the backyard and would build a
crane out of twigs, you know. And he was just a very inventive kid and he,
the Pathé brothers, another technological breakthrough.
I see where my mind is today because I'm here in the throbbing heart of Google.
But this huge technological breakthrough of film, motion picture film.
There were several wonderful breakthroughs by Georges Méliès the first person to discover
that. He was actually a magician, and his idea with
the camera was to adapt it to use for magic tricks.
And no one could ever really, really see where the whole thing was going and neither could
Cousteau. All Cousteau knew was that with the camera
in his hand, he had personality. People liked him.
And this was his entree into being an acceptable social person.
Well, anyway, he -- flashing forward again, in 1943 he's on the coast there.
They're not starving in southern France during the German occupation, but they're not eating
very well, either. They're living on beans and bread and butter.
When they can get it, very little meat. So skin diving for fish was really important
and they lived near Bandol, site of another great wine growing region
and dove in the Mediterranean to catch food, catch fish for food.
And also Cousteau was tinkering with finding a way to put a camera in a fruit jar so he
could take it underwater, wind it to trigger 30 seconds of film, bring
it back up, and from this he made a movie, his first underwater movie,
before the invention of scuba, called "60 Feet Down."
And 60 feet was about the limit that a person could get to by taking a single breath,
going to 60 feet and doing a little bit of work and getting back up and staying alive.
So the goal was Cousteau and the other two men, who became his best friends, and they
called themselves Les Mousquemers They had -- they were just great buddies,
and these are guys in their late 20s. You know, extremely vital.
And so the Les Mousquemers were obsessed with trying to experiment with experimenting with
ways to breathe underwater. And they tried to breathe oxygen.
They built what's called a re-breather which is a device that, at that time,
anyway, you had to manually inject oxygen into the loop of the -- the breathing loop,
and the CO2 that you were exhaling was absorbed by soda lime in a canister.
It was a very primitive device and there was no way to control the amount of oxygen really
that you were ingesting or breathing. And Cousteau had a high intolerance for oxygen
toxicity and almost died experimenting with this.
So he was fed up with using oxygen and wanted to try compressed air. Another technological,
wonderful breakthrough that was happening at this time was that the compression of gas
which is a marvelous transformation of physical states, basically.
I wrote ten pages on compressed gas in what one of my editors calls an expository death
spiral. And, of course, it was cut from the book.
It isn't there but I can tell you about it. When gas is compressed it changes states.
The simplest form is water boiling in a tea kettle.
You change the temperature -- all the variables. You're probably all scientists, so you know
all about this, you can manipulate one variable and it changes
the state of the matter. Anyway, they had figured out how to compress
gas. It was hugely important for steelmaking for
aviation, for carrying oxygen to higher altitudes so people could breathe when they were flying.
And it was problematic because you had to contain it in extremely strong vessels that
were very, very heavy. So the main company in France that was taken
over by the Germans called Air Liquide. And it just so happened that Cousteau's wife,
Simone Melchior, who he had met when he was 16-years old at a party
when he showed up at the party with his camera, party at her mother's apartment in Paris and
took her picture. I've seen the film, and you can see her face
in the camera, and she mouths her name, Simone Melchior.
And you know that Cousteau behind the camera, his beloved camera, had asked her what her
name was and she tells him. Turns out that she's the daughter and granddaughter
of French Navy Admirals. And her father, Henri Melchior, had retired
from the Navy and was a director of Air Liquide, the company that produced compressed air tanks
and had learned the technology. I know.
It all goes together, doesn't it? Really remarkable.
I want to read you a little bit about the day that Cousteau got the first Aqua-Lung.
He went north in 1943, December 1943, to Paris to visit his mother and to bring food because
things were really hard in the north of France. Southern France was called "Vichy France."
It was run by a puppet government but it wasn't occupied by troops. Northern France, things
were very bad. Cousteau's mother and some other relatives
lived up there along with his brother, Pierre Antoine Cousteau, his only brother.
He was older and he was a Nazi collaborator. He had written several anti-Semitic books.
He was the editor of a German-controlled magazine that essentially supported a vision of France
as a German territory. He was also able to get Cousteau phony papers
as a marine biologist so that he could travel around France including this trip that he,
Simone, and their two sons made north to Paris in the winter of 1943.
There he met at Air Liquide an engineer named Emile Gagnan.
And Emile was working, like most of the scientists and engineers at Air Liquide, as little as
possible. They wanted to do as little as possible to
help the Germans make steel, airplanes and all of that.
But for their French compatriots, they worked very hard.
And one of the things Emile was working on was a demand regulator was to burn methane
in farm vehicles. So he had come up with basically a two-stage
regulator that when the pressure in the manifold fell to a certain point, the diaphragm would
release a dose of methane and when -- and when it, the pressure in the
manifold, rose it would close -- that's basically what a regulator is.
So Cousteau went and talked to Emile Gagnan and Emile showed him one of these regulators.
In the next three weeks, the two of them came up with something that worked relatively well.
Attached to three tanks of compressed gas, three steel tanks of compressed gas,
and Cousteau and Emile went out to the Seine and tested this device in the river.
It didn't work perfectly because the exhale valve and the intake valve were different
levels, which meant that when your body was in one
attitude, it would work really well. When your body was in a different attitude,
it became hard to breathe. In the opposite attitude, the tank would run
free. Finally, Gagnan says he had it figured out.
Cousteau goes back to Toulon, and Gagnan, a month later, sends
him an Aqua-Lung fully charged with the valve in the right place.
And I want to read you a little bit from the book.
Can I see -- do I have to adjust? Should I adjust this somehow?
It knows what to do; right? Throbbing heart of Google.
So here's Cousteau and he's back in Toulon and they're -- he's living communally with
Les Mousquemers, his buddies, their wives, a couple of other people who were interested
in making movies. And it was just better to be with other people
during hard times. And it also meant that they could share the
scavenging duties for getting food which involved going -- going diving off, skin diving until
the Aqua-Lung arrived. [READING]
For weeks they had talked about the Aqua-Lung whenever the topic of conversation turned
to diving. Cousteau had explained the simple mechanism
of the regulator, the strength of the new steel tanks that allowed
the air inside to be compressed to many atmospheres, and the intricacies of the intake and exhaust
valves that would allow a diver to breathe easily in any attitude underwater.
Together, they speculated that hunting fish and lobsters was going to be as easy as plucking
vegetables from a stall table in the market. The interesting thing about Cousteau that
struck me as I worked on this book, which began five years ago, was that his impulse
to dive was, was really driven by the desire to get more food.
It was a very primitive urge and the filmmaking came second for a very long time, the thing
that made him very famous. [READING]
Most of all, Cousteau insisted the Aqua-Lung meant the
end of experiments with dangerous gasses and holding
their breath to shoot film underwater. Early the following morning, before the sunbathers
were out, the household trooped in pairs through the pine garden to a quiet inlet with the
gently sloping beach, out of sight of the sentries in the city center.
Dumas carried the Aqua-Lung. But when they reached the water, he helped
Cousteau into its harness and followed his instructions for double checking that the
air was turned on. The tanks were secure and the two hoses were
firmly attached to the regulator. As the best free diver in France, Dumas would
stay on shore to be ready if something went wrong.
Simone, Cousteau's wife, in mask, fins, and snorkel, would swim out to watch over her
husband from above and signal to Dumas if he got into trouble.
Cousteau spat into his mask, a trick the Les Mousquemers used for keeping a clear mist.
He fitted the mask tightly to his face, covered his nose and eyes to his brow, clamped the
mouthpiece between his teeth, looked around for a moment at all his friends
and waddled into the water. When Cousteau was chest deep, he stopped and
lay face down to gauge his buoyancy with the tanks of air on his back.
He and Gagnon had designed the Aqua-Lung to be slightly buoyant in sea water because adding
weight was simple and subtracting weight was impossible.
Dumas waded out and cinched a belt around Cousteau with five pounds of lead but it wasn't
enough. He added two pounds more, stepped back and
watched his friend sink slowly into the crystal clear water of the Mediterranean.
Cousteau breathed effortlessly, delighted by the distinctive whistle of air when he
inhaled, the rippling of the bubbles over his head
when he exhaled, and the snap of regulator as it released each breath.
Any scuba divers here? You know what I'm talking -- it's so distinctive,
and it still is, it's the same. Any kind of regulator you're using, it's that
extremely seductive sound. It's like the first Nikon motor drive sound,
you know. It just has something really primitively seductive
about the regulator. When Cousteau, let's see --
[READING] Cousteau let his arm stream along his sides,
fluttered his legs, and glided slowly over the sloping sand.
The light danced down from the surface and flashed off the bottom until it gave way to
a canyon full of dark green sea grass. Cousteau coasted to a stop.
He exhaled until his lungs were nearly empty to find out what that did to his buoyancy.
As expected, he sank slowly until he inhaled and began to rise toward the surface.
Taking a single breath from his tanks turned him from a negatively buoyant object into
a positive one. His lungs, he realized were a sensitive balance
system. He steadied himself with his arms and swam
smoothly down to about 30 feet. About one atmosphere.
The atmosphere increases every 33 feet. 14.8 pounds at the surface, every 33 feet
another 14.8 pounds. It's really quite a pressure change even at
30 feet. [READING]
Cousteau felt a squeeze in his ears and sinuses but no other effects of the pressure, and
no change that he could sense in the flow of air.
The regulator was operating efficiently at two atmospheres of pressure.
Cousteau smiled into his mouthpiece as he reached the bottom of the little canyon greeted
by a flashing school of fish, round and flat as saucers.
He hung onto one of the rough limestone walls and did a quick check of his equipment,
patting his harness and weight belt, shrugging his shoulders to be sure the tanks were riding
right and adjusting his mouthpiece. Cousteau looked up to the surface which was
shining like a rippled mirror. Directly above him, Simone was a small, silhouetted
doll, silhouetted doll against the dazzling sheet of light.
The doll waved at him; he waved back. Cousteau held on to his rocky anchor and studied
his bubbles on their way to the surface. They swelled and flattened into mushroom shapes,
identical to jellyfish as they rose through the water.
Since the bubbles flowed from the regulator behind his head, the water in front of him
was clear which gave him a moment of elation as he thought about eventually diving with
his camera. I thought about the helmet diver arriving
where I was in his ponderous boots and struggling to walk a few yards obsessed with his umbilici
and his head imprisoned in copper, Cousteau remembered about that moment.
On skin dives, I had seen helmet divers lean dangerously forward to take a step, clamped
in heavier pressure at the ankles than the head.
A cripple in an alien land. From that day forward, we would swim across
miles of country no one had ever known, free and level with our flesh feeling what
the fish scales feel. Cousteau looked again at the fish nosing curiously
around him. They always returned to the horizontal from
a burst up or down. Cousteau concluded because the horizontal
must be the ideal attitude for moving in a medium 800 times more dense than air,
any other attitude required an expenditure of energy.
Cousteau kicked and rolled for several revolutions on axis from the head to his feet.
He turned a somersault, he did a barrel roll he remembered from flight school.
He exhaled, sank head first to the bottom, balanced upside down on one finger, and laughed
so hard he lost his mouthpiece. Taking a breath was slightly more difficult
with his head straight down than in any other attitude
and Cousteau made a mental note to report that to Gagnon.
He flipped upright, kicked hard, and soared upward through his own bubbles until he was
just ten feet below the surface. He swam out into deeper water and dove to
60 feet, three atmospheres. Nothing he did changed the steady whistle,
gurgle and snap of his breathing. The regulator worked perfectly with his body
in any attitude. Three full tanks of air would give him 60
minutes at 60 feet. Cousteau figured he had used up 15 minutes.
Despite the chill of the deeper water, he was going to stay as long as he could.
He swam over familiar limestone chasms that narrowed and turned into tunnels that had
terrified him as a free diver afraid of being trapped inside with no air.
Now, Cousteau coasted fearlessly into one of them.
The brilliant light from the surface dimmed as though it were being peeled away in layers
above him, his tanks scrapped against the rocks above
him and he felt the first twinge of claustrophobia. Cousteau's instincts for self-preservation
overcame his passion to explore. He'd done enough on his first test dive.
Before heading for the surface, he rolled on his back to take a look at the roof of
the tunnel and saw that it was alive with lobsters,
hundreds of them were backed into the niches in the limestone.
Their eyes glowing like fireflies in the dim light,
their antennae flaying as they tried to get a fix on the giant intruder.
Cousteau thought about his family and friends in ill-fed France,
grabbed a pair of lobsters, backed out of the tunnel and kicked for the surface.
Simone saw him rising and swam down and took the catch the rest of the way to the beach.
He made five more trips into the lobster bonanza. Simone shuttled their catch to shore,
and Cousteau became the first meat driver with the enormous advantage of being able
to breath underwater and swim like a fish. Cousteau quickly was making movies and he
ran into Louis Malle. Actually, he didn't run into him, he went after him.
He went to Paris looking for a filmmaker once he had alcalin working right.
And he was in charge of the French Undersea Naval Research Group,
and they had a boat, a ship, a little ship, actually.
And then he found a way to buy Calypso which was a converted minesweeper that he then turned
into one of the most famous boats that ever sailed.
It's as famous as Endeavor, or Challenger or any of the great ocean exploration boats.
The little ship called Calypso. I'm assuming that most of you have Cousteau
familiarity of some kind. It's remarkable for me to have experienced thousands of people's
stories about Jacques Cousteau. And when I would bring --
one the indulgences you have to have when you know writers is that the writers don't
talk -- they talk about the same thing all the time
until they finish the book. So for five years I've been talking about
Jacques Cousteau. I took a couple years off and talked about
Titanic for awhile but I talked about Jacques Cousteau and people
would tell me their Cousteau stories. It was like I'd asked them about their operation,
you know, or the death of a friend. Or you know it was one of those topics you
tell somebody something and they always tell you something back.
Cousteau became famous after making two films that won Oscars.
One was called The Silent World and it was really the story of learning how to dive.
The book for it was ghost written by a guy named James Dugan.
After that Cousteau was chartering Calypso out to oil companies to do oil exploration
which was much more efficient with scuba diving than it was with hardhat diving.
And so ironically, very deliciously ironically, Jacques Cousteau really began as a pioneer
in oil exploration 25 years before he became a famous environmentalist.
He also developed what's called saturation diving which was a way to saturate divers'
bodies with nitrogen and pioneered all of the relationships in fractional gas pressures
inside bodies, along with some other people who joined him
in this work. But eventually he put divers down to 400 feet,
left them there for a month, and they went out and did work on dummy oil
wellheads that was broadcast by primitive television into the boardrooms of oil companies
to show these guys that they could put oil rigs in 400 feet of water. It was a phenomenal
breakthrough and these experiments were called Con Shelf One, Two, and Three.
And he produced a film called "World Without Sun" that also won an Oscar.
After that, a producer in Hollywood, David Wolper, who was really a remarkable fellow.
There's an expository death spiral on David Wolper because he was so fascinating that
didn't really make it into the book. But Wolper has made his bones as a producer
by buying the first Soviet films of Laika the dog that the Soviets shot into space in
the late 50s and turning it into a sensational documentary,
which the networks wouldn't buy. And Wolper said, "Oh, the hell with you,"
and he started his own network, went around to all the little stations around
the country, broadcasts his documentary. And finally ABC news, which was controlling
ABC at the time, said, "Oh, well, we'll let you show some documentaries on our station."
Hard to believe when you look at new technologies, like yours, I always think you know we really
don't know where this is going. And like television was never perceived as
a medium for selling advertising. It was perceived as a public service to dispense
news. That was the main impulse of television, of
broadcast television. So they didn't want to do documentaries which
they considered to be flawed, corrupt by music, story line, set-up scenes and things like
that. Anyway, Wolper broke through.
He saw a Cousteau documentary that had been produced for National Geographic on a Red
Sea trip that Cousteau took for oil exploration and with his wife sitting in their living
room and he said, "You know, the television looks like an aquarium.
People would love this." So he goes to Monaco and he makes a deal with
Cousteau. And he goes down to look at Calypso.
And Calypso is just a hardworking little research ship at this point, and Wolper says this thing
looks terrible, you know. You're going to have to paint it.
I don't want divers in black costumes. I want divers in silver costumes with yellow
helmets. I want -- you know, and so Wolper turns Cousteau
into a television star for a series that he sells to ABC.
Kind of another marvelous expository death swirl on how that happened. But it becomes
"The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau" which is what most people remember about their childhoods,
at least people of my generation remember about their childhoods, looking across a turkey
TV dinner watching Jacques Cousteau underwater. So he does this for ten years.
Then he moves on. He does some --
this is when he becomes an environmentalist. He founded the Cousteau Society and he --
which is the fastest growing environmental organization in the world -- because he can't
stand what he sees happening to the Mediterranean Sea.
Moves into PBS, does a dozen really on-the-nose documentaries showing ocean deterioration
which were very unpopular. Nobody wanted to see them in spite of the
fact that he had 300,000 members of the Cousteau Society,
environmentalism was becoming a cause celeb in our culture
but people still did not want to watch that for entertainment.
PBS canceled him after the series, which incidentally was funded by ARCO.
The PBS series was funded by ARCO. A lot of irony in this book or in this story.
And he went on the recommendation of John Denver to meet Ted Turner, and Turner and
Cousteau -- the only one missing in that meeting was P.T.
Barnum. The two greatest showmen in American --
two of the greatest showmen in American history met in Atlanta.
And Turner wrote him a blank check, basically, and he produced 42 documentaries for cable.
So Cousteau had moved from home movies to Oscar-winning films to broadcast television,
public television, and finally into cable television.
I'm going to save the rest of this story for the book.
You can read it. Cousteau's life turned sour in about 1979.
His son was killed. He had started a second family without telling
the first family that he had a second family. It created a terrible rift when his first
wife Simone finally died, and he married his mistress with whom he already
had two children, and then made her the heir to everything that
he had done. I know that you have a -- Jennifer was telling
me you have a lair. I apologize; I haven't explored this yet but
I will for sure. A lair coming from Cousteau Society.
But they are now the possessor of all of the material that Jacques Cousteau produced.
So that's where you want to go to get it. His son Jean-Michel runs something called
the Ocean Futures Society which is now also producing television documentaries.
And they helped me an awful lot with the book along with Fabian Cousteau, who I think has
been here, Jennifer said. So, that's the Cousteau family.
It has been a very interesting five years for me.
And it's a pleasure to share the book with you; I hope you enjoy it. Thank you.
Any questions? Any questions or Cousteau stories?
Anybody got a Cousteau story? Yeah?
BRAD MATSEN: Yeah, sure, the technical details of the first regulator. I believe the tanks,
the three tanks, were at 300 PSI. And the regulator staged it down to 14.8 coming
through in two stages. There are footnotes in the book relating to this.
I got my advice on this from someone you enshrined in your Hall of the Ocean recently, Phil Newton.
I don't know if anybody had a chance to meet that remarkable guy.
But he's a pretty amazing person and he was my guru for explaining how all this works.
I mean, just the business of breathing, you know, it's purely mechanical.
It's a purely mechanical thing so when you're designing a regulator, all you're doing is
kind of really recreating your diaphragm. That's what it is.
You reduce the pressure on this thing and it reacts a certain way,
that's how we breathe by pressure reducing and rising and falling.
BRAD MATSEN: I had just -- this, five years ago, I had finished a book that was fairly
successful on William Beebe and Otis Barton. Anybody ever heard of them?
The book is called "Descent: The Heroic Discovery of the Abyss."
These were two ocean pioneers who had themselves sealed into a four and a half steel ball with
two four-inch glass, silicon glass portholes, and lowered to a
half-mile into the ocean off Bermuda. And they were the first human beings to descend
beyond sunlight. Anyway, I had just written that book and I was sitting around my apartment
in New York with my girlfriend one day and I was saying, "Geez, Marilyn, I haven't
the slightest idea what I would do for an encore."
With this she said, "How about Cousteau?" And I was shocked to find that no one had
done it yet. There were two biographies written in the
mid-80s. One was kind of a hatchet job.
Someone really didn't like Cousteau and wanted to make his family feel bad about him, I guess.
I don't know. And the other was this sort of a celebrity
biography by a man named Axel Matson but it only took Cousteau up to 1985.
He died in '97. I just lost it.
We good? We're good.
There we are. Couldn't have a technological breakdown here,
could you? So yeah, that's how I got into it.
And it -- the first thing I did is I said maybe.
You know that how the wisdom of that, right? I mean before you get involved in something
that is going to occupy your life for 2 to 5 years, you say maybe.
And when I was saying maybe, I went to France. I said I want to go look at where this guy
was born; I want to find Calypso.
I had no idea where Calypso was. So I went to his village in Saint André de
Cubzac, saw his grave; I saw the place he was born.
I went on a train north a couple of hours to La Rochelle where I heard Calypso was.
And I found Calyspo, and she was sitting there rotting on a dock, held together by canvas
straps. And when I saw --
when I saw Cousteau's grave and I saw his birthplace and all that, it wasn't quite enough.
I had one foot in the story then. But when I saw Calypso, I thought, you know,
something's not right here. And to me as a journalist, as a writer, that's
what I was looking for in his story. So it was really seeing Calypso rotting at
the dock. Which incidentally, Francine, Cousteau's widow,
who inherited everything was in a ten-year legal battle with Jean-Michel for control
of Calypso. Now Calypso has been, is being renovated at
a shipyard in Brittany with a grant from Carnival Cruise Lines of all people.
And supposedly will sail next spring, again; knock on wood.
It'd be wonderful if it happened. Yes?
BRAD MATSEN: Well, the question was did Cousteau and his Les Mousquemers have any idea at the
time what they were doing when they were diving to several atmospheres.
The answer is no. And in fact they made their first film about
a shipwreck, and their first dive during which they spent
more than 20 minutes at the bottom was to 130 feet.
And they were taking grave risk. Haldane -- I don't know if, Haldane was the
fellow who pioneered the real understandings of --
for hard hat divers and for people who worked in bridge caissons,
anybody who was working under pressure was susceptible to the bends.
So there had been some research on this. And they had primitive dive tables but Cousteau
refined them, he and the others who worked with him.
Cousteau had -- his genius, really was for getting other people to do things for him.
I think, you know, that's probably the pattern of innovative people who bring technological
breakthroughs to the world, they figure out how to get people to realize
their vision. And he was a genius at that.
BRAD MATSEN: The question was did they use the dive tables in caissons and in early diving.
The answer is yes; they did the best they could.
The real caisson's disease or the bends first came to be a real problem when they were building
the Brooklyn Bridge. Incidentally, marvelous, marvelous book on
the building of that bridge by David McCullough, if anybody wants to pick up a 600-page book
and read it. And that tells a lot about how they --
men were coming out dying and bent. And they could only function again when they
went down and the original work on figuring out what
was causing the bends was done on goats. And later on, actually the goat was physiologically
similar enough to the human body so that's the test animal that they use.
BRAD MATSEN: You know, he was -- he was an inquisitor, but mostly Tailliez was, Philippe
Tailliez was. Tailliez, far as I could figure, he did most
of the library work for Cousteau. He was one the who came up with Haldane's
tables. And of course, like every new technology it
proceeded at breakneck speed once they made the first discovery of using the Aqua-Lung.
Within the first six months they had some good dive tables assembled. They really understood
what was going on. And they -- excuse me.
They had also lost a diver. Six months after the first dives, they lost
a diver at the Underwater Research, in the Underwater Research Group.
So they started realizing how dangerous this thing was.
And they were also doing things like trying to find out how deep they could go without
knowing. And that's -- which is when they lost the
diver. They would go down a rope holding on to weights
and hang a slate at the greatest depth and try to get back up.
Very risky. Again Cousteau didn't do a lot of this himself.
He had a chronic ear problem, a chronic ear squeeze problem.
Anybody else? Yes?
BRAD MATSEN: Yeah, he renounced it except for the chef on Calypso.
The chef could spear fish when they were on expeditions.
During the filming of The Silent World and the earliest episodes of The Undersea World
of Jacques Cousteau, the two films and the first television series,
Cousteau was on the ship a lot. After that, he wasn't on it very much so a
lot of spear fishing did go on. His objections to spear fishing were essentially
those that he felt for over fishing in general, which as is often the case,
it took the really sensational revelation of what was happening to tuna in the Mediterranean
which was a real disaster as far back as the 60s.
And Cousteau observed that. And his environmental sensibilities gradually
crept up on him but were primarily motivated by what he saw as a young man in the early
40s when they were skin diving and what he saw in the Mediterranean just
ten years later from pollution runoff and over fishing.
Well, thanks a lot. Appreciate it.
Thanks for having me.