Permanent Human Settlement of the Earth, Space and Ocean Frontiers

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Record Cave Dive

Ralph Buttigieg
Sydney NSW
Due to computer problems I have been off line for over a week, but those problems have been largely solved. In the meantime explorers have been busy. Here's a report of an expedition in Dennis's home state of Florida.

Photograph courtesy David Rhea

On Dec 15, 2007 divers from the Global Underwater Explorers’ WKPP team completed one of the most celebrated cave dives in the world. Jarrod Jablonski and Casey Mckinlay completed this dive in order to prove the connection between Wakulla Springs and Leon Sinks cave systems. As a result of the connection the twocaves have become one system formally known as the Wakulla- Leon Sinks Cave system. This cave is the longest cave in the United States and the fourth largest cave in the world. In order to prove the connection the divers traveled a distance of nearly seven miles (36,000 feet). The Scuba dive set two world records including the longest cave dive between two entrances and the longest traverse in a deep cave. The dive required the use of Halcyon rebreathers which allowed the divers to spend nearly seven hours at a depth of 300 feet, followed by approximately 15 hours of decompression.
This effort is one aspect of a more elaborate endeavor to map the complex cave systems beneath the land surface of Florida. This multi-decade project is known as the Woodville Karst Plain Project- a project of the non-profit Global Underwater Explorers and involves the efforts of a diverse collection of individuals and organizations including explorers, researchers, regulators and concerned citizens. The group has dedicated many thousands of hours to the exploration and mapping of complex, underwater cave systems and is often called upon to assist government and private organizations to study and conserve this fragile ecosystem.....

Monday, December 10, 2007

Flying Men

Since the first time man peeked out of his cave and looked up at birds, he has wanted to fly. I realize that I just made all that up, but since all the Neanderthals are dead – no one around can prove me wrong and besides, I heard something like than on Discovery Channel – so it must be true. In any case, even I have dreamed of flying, as soggy as I am most of the time all dressed up as a Aquanaut with generally no where to fly to or from underwater. But right at the dawn of the 21st century – mankind has nearly solved the problem of flying men. I am not making this up….

This is all in the skydiver’s realm right now, but some fantastically talented skydivers have invented a skydiving ensemble called a “wingsuit”, invented in the 1990’s by Patrick de Gayardon. This wingsuit consists of fabric attached between the legs and under the arms so that the skydiver ends up looking a lot like a flying squirrel. It does not defeat gravity, but it enables the body of the skydiver to extend his reach from near vertical fall to a bird-like horizontal fall. Look at his incredible, fantastic, amazing video and watch this amazing individual, Loïc Jean-Albert of France fall down the side of a mountain and even soar over the heads of skiers on the slopes!

At this time in the state of the art, the skydiver jumps out of the aircraft or off the side of a cliff or building (it is called base jumping if not in an aircraft). The wingsuit allows the skydiver to soar horizontally as well as down until he gets close enough to pop his low altitude chute to make a safe landing. The problem is, the wingsuit builds up way too much horizontal speed (about 75 mph with today’s designs) to allow for a safe landing without a chute – at least today.

As show in the photo at the top, the next generation of wingsuits will solve that problem and be able to lose the forward speed (flaps?) and allow the skydiver to land either on his feet or with an attached landing gear frame (as shown) without a parachute! We are just a single generation of improvements away from that, according to Loïc Jean-Albert and that it will take about $2 million in technical studies and trials to finally get there. South African wingsuit maker Maria von Egidy says she already has a design that will allow for a safe landing and is working on it.

And, by the way, if you want to buy one of these for yourself, you can just by clicking here and getting out your credit card. Please wait 4-5 weeks for delivery.

Sunday, December 09, 2007


Ralph Buttigieg
Sydney, NSW
Heres a use for lunar resources I bet you never thought off. This fellow built a mirror system to collect moonbeams. Apparently a thousand people have gone to the site to bath in moonlight, is supposed to have beneficial health affects. He's accepting $10 donations but I wonder how long it will be before he sets a proper charge. I guess he could hire it to Wiccans for their full moon ceremonies too. I think it would be a good place to party and drink lots of space beer. Now why didn't I think of it?

THREE POINTS, Arizona (Reuters) - Financial advisor Jaron Ness stands in the cool desert air waiting for the clouds to clear and the moon to rise.

As the conditions come into alignment, he steps into the path of a cool blaze of blue-white light bounced off a wall of highly polished parabolic mirrors five storeys high.

"It feels magnetic," he says, turning his hands slowly in the reflected glow of the light from the almost full moon.

The young professional from Colorado is among a growing number of curious people beating a path to this patch of scrub-strewn land out in the Arizona desert to bask in light from the world's first moonbeam collector.

A Tucson-based inventor and businessman Richard Chapin and his wife Monica are behind the giant device, which gathers up and focuses the light of the moon.

The effect of the moon's gravitational pull on the Earth's tides and other natural phenomena has been studied for millennia. Less attention has focused on the sunlight reflected from its surface.

The Chapins built the large, one-of-a-kind contraption that stands in the desert some 15 miles (24 km) west of Tucson, Arizona, in the belief that moonlight might have applications for medicine, industry and agriculture.

"So much work has focused on the sun. We have just forgotten about this great object that has been here for billions of years, has affected us in all forms of our evolution," said Chapin, who paid for the project with his own money....

Friday, December 07, 2007

1000 Days At Sea – The Mars Ocean Odyssey

DAY 229

Reid Stowe and Sonaya Ahmad continue their record breaking voyage aimed at a 1000 day isolation voyage from the populated world, just like that which will be experienced by a Mars crew later this century. Their hardy schooner Anne (named after Reid’s mother) is just about to cross below Africa beneath the Cape of Good Hope.

They voyage is exciting and can be followed on a day-by-day basis on their website The site contains nearly daily updates from Reis and Sonaya as well as photos and their daily log. It even contains a real time satellite uplinked position map.

Here is an email I received from Reid a few days ago:

Dennis - I'm glad you have been following our story. It's been a lot tougher for us than I thought, but all systems are still go. Most of our time is taken up by sailing and repairs, but we would like to develop the space analogous potential. Did you see our list of records we have already broken? None of them are official but we are saying that at 224 days is the longest space analogous experiment to take place on earth. Our skill and stamina is extraordinary… We are giving it our best and hope we can contribute something positive to man's quest to go into space for an extended period of time. We look forward to communicating. Reid

Reid wrote an interesting paragraph on the website I will include here that is an extraordinary thought from a man who has escaped the confines of the land and has dared to explore and literally go where no one ever has before. I believe his musings thus contain some uncommon wisdom from an extraordinary perspective as he reflects on a spindly ivy plant growing in his galley:

“Life itself is so fragile, but when a thing lives it does so with a fierce determination to survive. Ivy is a naturally hardy plant and it will survive however and wherever it can. We wouldn't limit its growth knowing how precious life is out here. We figure the ivy plant knows what's good for its own health and wouldn't grow into a space it couldn't handle. If only humans had the same self-knowledge.”