JoshingTalk Submersible: Pt. 1, The Challenge

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In this guest blog series, we meet Josh Taylor, a UK based 22-year-old social entrepreneur who specializes in creative science and technology projects that inspire innovation and stimulate global awareness. Josh is currently working on a project to get a submersible to the bottom of the deepest Atlantic ocean trench- the Milwaukee Deep. You can support and follow the project at www.joshingtalk.com.


Back in 2011, a garage DIY experiment of mine was launched to international recognition after I sent a weather balloon to 118,000 feet and captured the curvature of the Earth on camera (video).  I decided to make use of this exposure by attempting a new project to create a piece of art in near space, using the same weather balloon technology to fly to over 100,000 feet while ink solutions from inside a payload fell onto the canvas by the power of gravity. Much to my satisfaction, the project went very smoothly and the bind between art, science and Mother Nature produced a truly unique piece of art, which I recovered 40 miles from launch site in a field after its 2-3 hour journey. Yet again, the glowing response from the international media prompted me to think about my next project….

Image of France, the Channel and the South of the UK from my first weather balloon project.

The Challenge 

The JoshingTalk Submersible challenge all started one evening, when I wrote a blog post addressed to Sir Richard Branson. I had grown up watching him break world records and take on massive challenges and now I wanted to turn the tables. I wanted him to challenge me to my next project.

Within a few weeks, Branson had replied with his own blog post, issuing me the challenge to see how deep under the ocean I could explore.

April 23, 2012 – the day I received my challenge.

Since that day in April of last year, I have been working hard to create a submersible capable of reaching the bottom of the deepest Atlantic ocean trench – the Milwaukee Deep. Now, you might be thinking, how hard can it be to sink an object to the bottom of the sea? For a helpless, heavy object (or sinking ship), the answer is “not very.” Documenting the feat with sophisticated technology and sensitive equipment, however, is a different story. The environment at the bottom of the trench is far from hospitable, even alien, making it explorable only by extremely expensive underwater robots in the past. Water pressure at depths of over 500 metres would instantly crush any electronic devices made for the consumer market. Furthermore, it’s dark, meaning a typical camera flash won’t get you very far at 100 metres, let alone 500, if your mission is to explore. Now consider this as I attempt to adventure to over 8,000 meters beneath sea level….

In my next post, I’ll talk about the new technology that is making my project feasible on an amateur’s budget. Underwater ocean exploration has been the exclusive domain of elite research institutions and multi-billion dollar offshore industry for long enough. The possibilities for average, curious people have never been greater.

 

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