Flotsametrics and the Floating World

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Harper Collins, Oct 6, 2009 - Science - 304 pages
21 Reviews

Pioneering oceanographer Curtis Ebbesmeyer unravels the mystery of marine currents, uncovers the astonishing story of flotsam, and changes the world's view of trash, the ocean, and our global environment.

Curtis Ebbesmeyer is no ordinary scientist. He's been a consulting oceanographer for multinational firms and a lead scientist on international research expeditions, but he's never held a conventional academic appointment. He seized the world's imagination as no other scientist could when he and his worldwide network of beachcomber volunteers traced the ocean's currents using thousands of sneakers and plastic bath toys spilled from storm-tossed freighters.

Now, for the first time, Ebbesmeyer tells the story of his lifelong struggle to solve the sea's mysteries while sharing his most surprising discoveries. He recounts how flotsam has changed the course of history—leading Viking mariners to safe harbors, Columbus to the New World, and Japan to open up to the West—and how it may even have made the origin of life possible. He chases icebergs and floating islands; investigates ocean mysteries from ghost ships to a spate of washed-up severed feet on Canadian beaches; and explores the enormous floating "garbage patches" and waste-heaped "junk beaches" that collect the flotsam and jetsam of industrial society. Finally, Ebbesmeyer reveals the rhythmic and harmonic order in the vast oceanic currents called gyres—"the heartbeat of the world "—and the threats that global warming and disintegrating plastic waste pose to the seas . . . and to us.


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Review: Flotsametrics and the Floating World: How One Man's Obsession with Runaway Sneakers and Rubber Ducks Revolutionized Ocean Science

User Review  - Andrew - Goodreads

It's an account of the career of Curtis Ebbesmeyer and it is an interesting introduction to ocean science. Perhaps the most-surprising aspect of it is that Ebbesmeyer revives a lot of research on ... Read full review

Review: Flotsametrics and the Floating World: How One Man's Obsession with Runaway Sneakers and Rubber Ducks Revolutionized Ocean Science

User Review  - Steve - Goodreads

Ebbesmeyer is prone to hyperbole, I think. But this is a very important book by a very important oceanographer. Read full review


Oil and Icebergs
Messages in Bottles
Eureka a Sneaker
Coffins Castaways and Cadavers
The Admiral of the Floating World
Asian infusions in America Castaways from the hermit shogunate Ranald
The forgotten gyres rediscovered and renamed Amos Wood follows the fishing
Junk Beach and Garbage Patch
The Synthetic Sea
substitute Plasticpacked albatrosses Molecular mimicry Endocrine
Melting the Arctic and speeding the gyres Farewell fundamental tone Finding
A Million Drifting Messages

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About the author (2009)

Curtis Ebbesmeyer holds a Ph.D. in oceanography from the University of Washington. Media worldwide have turned to his expertise on ocean currents and floating objects. He lives in Seattle, Washington.

Eric Scigliano, winner of Livingston and AAAS prizes for reporting, has written for Harper's, New Scientist, the New York Times, and many other publications. His books include Puget Sound, Michelangelo's Mountain, and Love, War, and Circuses.

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