In 1520, explorer Ferdinand Magellan called it “peaceful.” At more than 60 million square miles, the Pacific Ocean covers 30 percent of the earth’s surface -- an area larger than the landmass of all the continents combined. It is our planet’s largest and deepest ocean basin, and it has stories to tell. So, where to begin?
Author Simon Winchester sees many good starting points. His new book is “Pacific: Silicon Chips and Surfboards, Coral Reefs and Atom Bombs, Brutal Dictators, Fading Empires, and the Coming Collision of the World's Superpowers.”
In it he guides his readers around the Pacific Rim, from the Bering Strait to Cape Horn, the Yangtze River to the Panama Canal and a place called Bikini. Among many subjects, the journey covers the tragic misadventures of early atomic research, the abuse and pollution of people and places, the geopolitics of the 38th parallel and transistor radios, and the "Gidget" revolution.
Winchester spoke at Town Hall Seattle on Nov. 4. This talk was presented by Town Hall and The Elliott Bay Book Company as part of The Seattle Science Lectures. Thanks to Anna Tatistcheff for our recording.