Welcome to “Fathom”

“Diver Dan”

Since I was a toddler, dipping my toes in salty Oyster Bay Harbor, the sea has stirred my imagination.

Books I found around my parents’ house, with haunting stories and images such as Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Little Mermaid” and Charles Kingsley’s Victorian-era “Water Babies” (now rightly de-shelved due to culturally offensive comments) fueled images of sparkling blue beauty and new forms of living, breathing sentient beings. The sea was an unseen, under-appreciated world of shocking events where a lovestruck girl could trade her voice for a pair of legs and a drowned chimney sweep could launch a journey of redemption.

As a creative stimulus, Diver Dan, the early ’60s children’s television show, stands out for me. Viewed today, the show’s crude special effects may distract some. But to a tiny child who had never before viewed a television screen, this bubbling black-and-white world of wise mermaids, questing aquamen, and talking fish told me that other realms existed beyond my immediate surroundings. My own mind, I realized, could created entire universes.

Since then, and for many years since, I have been spinning tales in my head. Some stories are dynastic, nearly as old and complicated as I am. Some have sputtered out, replaced by something new. It is time to write them down.

And, as I am a science journalist, with many of my stories appearing over the years at my beloved Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J., I am still examining and turning over ideas, like starfish glistening on the beach. I want to write about them, too.

This is “Fathom,” my blog. Its name alludes to the depth and beauty of the sea — its allure and mystery. The term refers also to a reporter’s technique of examining ideas from different angles so as to understand what we see.

— Kitta MacPherson