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  • Hello. This is 6 Minute English from

  • BBC Learning English. I'm Neil.

  • And I'm Rob.

  • From the ancient Roman sea god,

  • Neptune, to myths of mermaids,

  • to modern Hollywood films

  • like Finding Nemo, people throughout

  • history have been fascinated

  • by the idea of living

  • underwater. In this programme, we'll be

  • hearing about projects to

  • create liveable underwater

  • habitats and the challenges they face.

  • We'll be finding out how realistic it is

  • to believe that in a few years we could be

  • eating breakfast whilst watching fish

  • swim outside the kitchen window,

  • before heading

  • off to work in an office under the ocean...

  • ... and we'll be learning some related

  • vocabulary as well. But first it's

  • time for our quiz

  • question. One of the first adventure

  • stories to fire the public's

  • imagination about the

  • underwater world was the 1870 novel,

  • Twenty Thousand Leagues Under

  • the Sea. But who wrote

  • this underwater classic? Was it:

  • a) H G Wells?, b) Arthur Conan Doyle?, or

  • c) Jules Verne?

  • I think I know this one, Neil.

  • Wasn't it a) H G Wells?

  • OK, Rob, we'll find out later if you're

  • right. Now, one of the

  • most ambitious designs

  • for an underwater city is Ocean Spiral,

  • a huge transparent globe attached

  • to the seabed -

  • the solid ground which lies

  • deep below the sea level.

  • The top of the globe stands above the

  • surface of the ocean and

  • running through the centre

  • is a tower to add strength, and to provide

  • space for homes, offices

  • and even an amusement

  • park for five thousand

  • underwater residents.

  • Ocean Spiral has been dreamt up

  • by the Japanese Shimizu Corporation.

  • Here's Shimizu engineer,

  • Maksaki Takeuchi, explaining to BBC

  • World Service programme,

  • CrowdScience, the motivation

  • behind the idea:

  • At the moment the world is facing a lot of

  • serious problems regarding

  • food, energy, water,

  • natural resources... however we are trying

  • to solve the issues just by using our land.

  • Our idea is to connect the sea surface

  • and the deep sea vertically

  • and that way we believe

  • that we can utilise the capability of the

  • deep sea and that's the purpose

  • of this whole project.

  • The effects of human activity on the land

  • have led some to look to the

  • oceans for natural

  • resources - naturally existing things

  • such as minerals, oil, coal

  • and other energy sources

  • that can be used by people.

  • This search deep underwater is

  • happening vertically - at a ninety

  • degree angle straight up or

  • down from the ground, as opposed to

  • horizontally, or flat across the

  • Earth's surface.

  • But as yet, Shimizu Corporation's plans

  • for an underwater city

  • are still in the planning

  • stages - no part of the project has yet

  • been built and the total cost

  • is thought to exceed

  • 26 billion dollars.

  • In fact, the longest anyone has spent

  • living under the sea is only 73 days.

  • That record

  • was set by Roger Garcia, ex-military diver

  • and head of The Aquarius,

  • currently the world's

  • only underwater research station.

  • Here's Roger Garcia, explaining to BBC

  • World Service programme,

  • CrowdScience, what happens

  • to the human body after living

  • underwater for so long:

  • ... perhaps a change in their voice, not

  • much 'cos we're not very deep,

  • that's because

  • the air becomes denser. Physiologically

  • the most important thing though,

  • is that since

  • you are in this case at two and a half

  • times atmospheric pressure

  • you do take on more inner

  • gas, and in this case - inside The Aquarius

  • we just breathe normal air - you're gonna

  • take on more nitrogen and depending on

  • how long you stay in The Aquarius,

  • that's going

  • to incur some sort of

  • decompressed obligation.

  • In addition to engineering challenges,

  • living underwater for long periods

  • of time also affects

  • the human body. One example is the

  • bends - or decompression sickness,

  • a serious medical

  • disorder created by nitrogen bubbles in

  • the muscles when returning

  • to the surface of the

  • sea too quickly.

  • The bends, and changes to the voice,

  • are examples of how underwater

  • living changes the body

  • physiologically - relating to how the

  • bodies of living humans

  • and animals function.

  • As divers descend deep below the

  • ocean's surface, there is

  • an increase in atmospheric

  • pressure - the normal air pressure

  • within the Earth's atmosphere.

  • The deeper they dive,

  • the higher the pressure. Physiological

  • reactions like the bends are

  • caused by divers incorrectly

  • readjusting to normal

  • atmospheric pressure.

  • Well, Neil, with so many difficulties,

  • it's no surprise that HG Wells's

  • fantasy of living

  • under the sea is still science-fiction.

  • Ah, but are you sure it was H G Wells,

  • Rob? In my quiz question

  • I asked you who wrote

  • the classic underwater adventure

  • Twenty Thousand Leagues

  • Under the Sea.

  • Yes, and I said a) H G Wells.

  • Which was... the wrong answer!

  • It was, in fact, c) Jules Verne,

  • the French author who also

  • wrote Around the World in Eighty Days.

  • In this programme, we've been discussing

  • the challenge of living underwater, going

  • down vertically - at a 90 degree angle -

  • to the seabed - the solid ground hundreds

  • of metres under the sea.

  • Ocean explorers search underwater

  • for natural resources - useful

  • materials like coal and oil.

  • But they face many physiological

  • problems - problems relating

  • to how the human body

  • functions, such as the bends - a painful

  • medical condition caused by returning too

  • quickly to atmospheric pressure -

  • the Earth's usual air pressure.

  • That's all for this programme,

  • but we hope

  • you'll be diving back into 6 Minute English

  • very soon. Bye for now!

  • Bye!

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Could humans live in underwater cities? - 6 Minute English

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/10/24
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