RENO, Nev. (KRNV & MyNews4.com) -- After years of explorers searching for the wreckage of the Titanic, Robert Ballard took on the task and he found it in just more than a week.
"A kid from Kansas read a book called "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" and I wanted to become Captain Nemo," Ballard said.
He did. Ballard has been exploring the oceans for 55 years. In 1985 he found the un-findable: the Titanic.
"It was in total darkness, 12 thousand feet down, in a canyon," Ballard said.
So how did he do it?
"[It's] sort of like if you wanted to go photograph a deer in the winter, what do you look for? The footprints," he said. "So we wanted to look for the footprints of the Titanic and then follow them back to the Titanic which is exactly what we did."
Ballard said the same would work for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet, if the search radius was smaller.
"Titanic was 100 square miles, the search, Bismarck was 150 square miles, the Yorktown was 200 square miles," he said. "We're up to now where we can do thousands of square miles, but not ten of thousands of square miles."
He said the longer it's missing, the harder it will be to find.
"It's never impossible," Ballard said. "It's the question of whether you have the will, time, resources and energy to do it."
Ballard's resources and energy are now being spent right here in the U.S.
"Most people don't realize that 50 percent of the United States, that we own everything to, is underwater, full of resources," Ballard said. "So we're going to spend the next five years or more exploring America."
He's sharing stories of past, present and future exploration Thursday night at the university.
"I'm going to surprise them," Ballard said. "I'm certainly going to talk about the Titanic. I'd be run out of town on the rail if I didn't, but I want to show them where it fits in a much larger story."
A big part of that story is inspiring students, the next generation of explorers
You can hear the story firsthand at the University of Nevada, Reno.
Ballard will be speaking at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 3. The event is free and it's happening in the Redfield Auditorium in the Davidson Mathematics and Science Center.