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Can you still be an explorer?

Dr LivingstoneNow that you can get a satellite map of the world on your phone, it’s hard to believe we still need explorers - but there’s still lots to learn.

Exploring the ocean

The ocean covers 71% of the Earth, and most of it has never been explored. This is because exploring the depths of the sea is extremely difficult. Finding a way to breathe isn’t enough: you also need to deal with the weight of the water above you.

Marine explorers get around this using new technology and remote-control robots, but it will be a long time before we have a full idea of what is on the ocean floor and what species live in the deepest parts of the sea.

Old places, new eyes

Exploration isn’t just about finding and mapping new places: it’s also about understanding how they work and discovering new geographical features. For example, the Cave of the Crystals in Mexico was discovered only in 2000 - and because it is so hot and humid that a person can survive in it only for around ten minutes, most of it still hasn’t been explored.

New technology, techniques and ideas also make it possible to explore extreme areas in more depth. For example, exploring Antarctica in detail is much more possible now than when the expedition reached the South Pole in 1911.

Understanding other cultures

For human geographers, anthropologists and other people interested in cultures around the world, exploration doesn’t have to involve the physical landscape. Explorers like Benedict Allen aim to immerse themselves in cultures other than their own, making a point of not using outside help or bringing technology along with them.