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David Biello: So Victor, what have you been up to?
Victor Vescovo: That's the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean,
and I guess I read too much Jules Verne as a young boy,
and so for the last four years I've led a team to design and build
what is now the most advanced and deepest diving submersible on the planet,
and I have the ability to personally pilot it too.
So this was us in December of last year,
for the first time -- the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.
DB: And nobody's seen that before right?
That's just you. VV: No.
Well, now everybody else.
DB: Who does that?
Like --
VV: Well, I think everyone has seen the developments in the last 10, 15 years.
You have a bunch of people that have the means to explore outer space,
like SpaceX or Blue Origin --
those guys --
and we're going the other direction.
So it's a wonderful era
of private individuals spending their resources
to develop technologies that can take us to places
that have never been explored before,
and the oceans of the world is --
it's almost a cliché to say it's 70 percent of our entire planet,
and of that, 95 percent is unexplored.
So what we're trying to do with our expedition
is to build and prove out a submersible
that can go to any point on the bottom of the planet
to explore the 60 percent of this planet that is still unexplored.
DB: You need a pretty cool tool to do that, right?
VV: Right.
Now the tool is the submarine, the Limiting Factor.
It's a state-of-the-art vessel
supported by the support ship, the Pressure Drop.
It has a two-person titanium sphere, 90 millimeters-thick,
that keeps it at one atmosphere,
and it has the ability to dive repeatedly
down to the very deepest point of the ocean.
DB: So like the SpaceX of ocean exploration?
VV: Yeah, it's kind of the SpaceX of ocean exploration,
but I pilot my own vehicles.
DB: Are you going to take Elon or...?
VV: Yeah, I could take someone down there.
So, Elon, if you're listening,
I'll give you a ride in mine if you give me a ride in yours.
DB: So tell us what it's like down there.
I mean, we're talking about a place where the pressure is so intense
that it's like putting an Eiffel Tower on your toe.
VV: It's more than that.
It's about 16,000 psi.
So the issue is that we have this titanium sphere
that allows us to go down to these extreme depths
and come up repeatedly.
That's never been done before.
The Challenger Deep has been dived twice,
once in 1960 and once in 2012 by James Cameron,
and they went down and came back up and those were experimental craft.
This is the first commercially certified submersible
that can go up and down thousands of times with two people,
including a scientist.
We're very proud that we took down
the deepest-diving British citizen in history
just three weeks ago, Dr. Alan Jamieson of Newcastle University
who was down with us on the Java Trench.
DB: So, not too much freaks you out, is what I'm guessing.
VV: Well, it's a lot different to go diving.
If you're claustrophobic, you do not want to be in the submarine.
We go down quite a distance
and the missions typically last eight to nine hours in a confined space.
It's very different from the career I had previously
which was mountain climbing where you're in open spaces,
the wind is whipping, it's very cold.
This is the opposite. It's much more technical.
It's much more about precision in using the instruments
and troubleshooting anything that can go wrong.
But if something really goes wrong in the submersible,
you're not going to know it.
DB: So you're afraid of leaks is what you're saying.
VV: Leaks are not good, but if it's a leak that's happening,
it's not that bad because if it was really bad
you wouldn't know it, again, but --
you know, fire in the capsule, that wouldn't be good either,
but it's actually a very safe submersible.
I like to say I don't trust a lot of things in life,
but I do trust titanium, I trust math
and I trust finite element analysis,
which is how you figure out
whether or not things like this can survive
these extraordinary pressures and conditions.
DB: And that sphere is so perfectly machined, right?
This is a truly unique craft.
VV: That was the real trick --
is actually building a titanium sphere
that was accurate to within .1 percent of machine.
Titanium is a hard metal to work
and a lot of people haven't figured it out,
but we were very fortunate.
Our extraordinary team was able to make an almost perfect sphere,
which when you're subjecting something to pressure,
that's the strongest geometry you can have.
When I'm in the submersible and that hatch closes,
I'm confident that I'm going to go down and come back up.
DB: And that's the thing you double-check --
that the hatch is closed?
VV: There are only two rules in diving a submarine.
Number one is close the hatch securely.
Number two is go back to rule number one.
DB: Alright so, Atlantic Ocean: check.
Southern Ocean: check.
VV: No one has ever dived the Southern Ocean before.
I know why.
It's really, really hostile.
The weather is awful.
The word collision comes to mind.
But we did that one, yes.
Glad that's over -- DB: Yeah --
VV: Thank you.
DB: It's like you're racing through it.
And now the Indian Ocean, as Kelly mentioned.
VV: Yeah, that was three weeks ago.
We were fortunate enough to actually solve the mystery.
If someone had asked me three weeks ago,
"What is the deepest point in the Indian Ocean?" --
no one really knew.
There were two candidates,
one off of Western Australia and one in the Java Trench.
We have this wonderful ship with a brilliant sonar.
We mapped both of them.
We sent landers down to the bottom and verified.
It's actually in the center portion of the Java Trench,
which is where no one thought it was.
In fact, every time we've completed one of our major dives,
we have to run off to Wikipedia and change it
because it's completely wrong.
DB: So it probably takes longer to get down there
than the time you're able to spend down there?
VV: No, we actually spend quite a bit of time.
I have four days of oxygen supply in the vessel.
If I'm down there for four days,
something's gone so wrong I'm probably not going to use it,
but it's about three hours down to the deepest part of the ocean
and then we can spend usually three or four hours
and then another three hours up.
So you don't want to stay in there for more than 10 or 11 hours.
It can get a little tight.
DB: Alright, so the bottom of the Indian Ocean.
And this is something that no one besides you has ever seen before --
VV: This is actually imagery from one of our robotic landers.
On the bottom right you can actually see a robust assfish --
that's what it's actually called.
But you can see from the left a creature that's never been seen before.
It's actually a bottom-dwelling jellyfish called a stalked ascidian,
and none of them have ever looked like this before.
It actually has a small child at the bottom of its stalk,
and it just drifted across beautifully.
So every single dive we have gone on,
even though we're only down there for a couple of hours,
we have found three or four new species
because these are places that have been isolated for billions of years
and no human being has ever been down there to film them
or take samples.
And so this is extraordinary for us --
So what we are hoping --
the main objective of our mission is to build this tool.
This tool is a door,
because with this tool,
we'll be able to make more of them potentially
and take scientists down to do thousands of dives,
to open that door to exploration
and find things that we had no idea even existed.
DB: And so more people have been to space than the bottom of the ocean.
You're one of three.
You're going to up that number, you're going to give it away.
VV: Yeah, three people have dived to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.
The USS Trieste in 1960 with two individuals.
James Cameron in 2012 with his Deep Sea Challenger --
thank you, Jim, great sub.
This is a third-generation technology.
We're not only going to try and go down, actually in two weeks,
but we're going to try and do it multiple times,
which has never been done before.
If we can do that, we'll have proven the technology
and that door will not just go open, it will stay open.
DB: Fantastic. Good luck.
VV: Thank you very much. DB: Thank you.
VV: Thank you all.
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【TED】Victor Vescovo: What's at the bottom of the ocean -- and how we're getting there (What's at the bottom of the ocean -- and how we're getting there | Victor Vescovo)

100 Folder Collection
林宜悉 published on August 3, 2019
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