Married, with hypocrisy

I, octobot

Somewheeerrrrre / beyond the seeeea …

This is pretty awesome: Jacques Rougerie, a French designer, has drawn up plans for the SeaOrbiter, an enormous marine-science platform that would float like an iceberg — with much of the action happening under the water. As CNET reports:

Drawings show eight central work levels occupying about half the height, and a RedNova news story puts it at 165 feet. Windows on the lower levels are meant to let marine researchers spy on whales and other hard-to-observe creatures; it’s hoped that the minimal use of an electric engine will help keep from scaring the sea life away. Underwater sections could also be used for training by astronauts; SeaOrbiter’s supporters, who include the Mercury astronaut and underwater enthusiast Scott Carpenter.

It’ll never get built, of course. But what I particularly love is how the design harkens back to the sci-fi of the 50s — when the future had gorgeously modernist industrial design. I mean, look at the crazy circular discs protrubing from that thing! Sure, maybe they have some structural purpose related to stabilizing the platform … but I bet they’re in there just ‘cause they look totally awesome. As my friend Morgan pointed out in his commentary on the SeaOrbiter, “I would like to suggest to the folks who designed this (and hope to build it) that future pitch images should include people flying from level to level using personal jetpacks.”

Interestingly, the designer Rougerie has a web site with more sketches of possible marine vehicles, many of which seem have been biomimetically designed off of jellyfish and squid. This guy is steel.

(Thanks to Morgan for this one!)

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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