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Our New Age of Water

By Sharon Moen, Minnesota Sea Grant

While looking toward the next 50 years, Sea Grant is revisiting its roots.

Sea Grant founder, Athelstan Spilhaus, penned the non-fiction comic strip Our New Age from 1958 – 1975. The syndicated comic excited its 5 million readers about science and technology. In fact, when Spilhaus asked President John F. Kennedy why he appointed him to orchestrate the U.S. science exhibit at the Seattle World’s Fair, JFK joked, “The only science I know, Spilly, is what I read in the Boston Globe in your comic strip.”1

Sea Grant is tapping into Spilhaus’s success to ignite interests in STEM education, science literacy, and water use, supply and quality. The Our New Age of Water series takes a hard and hopeful look at topics related to the present and future use of water,  including aquaculture, subsea storage, ocean acidification and many others. The intent is that each Our New Age of Water installment will advance ideas about water-related research and innovative technologies that could improve the human condition in the next 50 years.

To keep up with the freshest Our New Age of Water installments follow NOAA Sea Grant on social media or sign up for email alerts at:

Humans have used illustrations to communicate for centuries. Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) drew the first design for a diving bell and, since then, European explorers were accompanied by artists to share scientific discoveries with the world. For example, Oceanography greatly benefitted from its history of hiring artists to join research expeditions.

1843. E. Forbes illustrated deep sea dredging for marine fauna. “Natural History of the European Seas” by E. Forbes (posthumously), edited by R. Godwin-Austen. (Courtesy of NOAA Library).

1925. Director of the Arcturus expedition, William Beebe, hired Don Dickerman to sketch sea life. S. Moen collection.

2003. Mary Jane Brush documented the work of scientists, a Connecticut Sea Grant educator, a Sea Grant Knauss fellow and others on an expedition to the New England seamount chain.

1 With Tomorrow in Mind: How Athelstan Spilhaus Turned America Toward the Future. 2015, by Sharon Moen, Minnesota Sea Grant.
2 Water Supply in the U.S., USEPA.
3 Pew Research Center, Public and Scientists’ Views on Science and Society.

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