‘Cousteau’ is THE name synonymous with our ocean world. In all of our past and future journeys to the sea, underlying our motivations is undoubtedly a vision that has been inspired by this single man. Not only was Cousteau ahead of his time – pioneering numerous innovations in personal life system design, undersea habitation, and wet vehicles – his creativity took him well into the future.
By random chance, I stumbled on a quote offered by Jacques Cousteau at some point which was published on David Szondy’s webpage highlighting many progressive thoughts and ideologies associated with the underwater world. Cousteau is quoted as saying,
“It will happen. Surgery will affix a set of artificial gills to man’s circulatory system– right here at the neck– which will permit him to breathe oxygen from the water like a fish. Then the lungs will be by-passed and he will be able to live and breathe in any depth for any amount of time without harm.
“Do you realize what that will mean? He will be able to observe, train, cultivate, and exploit the seas at first-hand. Maybe the first man will be an undersea farmer, or miner, or rancher. Maybe just a scientist. At any rate, there will be no depth-time barrier, we know that. When his duties are done, he will be rehabilitated to air breathing by more surgery. It will happen, I promise you.”
Deeply profound and prophetic, thoughts such as these have empowered the past 50 years of diving science, technology, and related explorations. And yet it remains such a distant reality – or does it?
What jumps out at me is reference to the depth/time barrier. The limits of human physiology are now relatively well known, but innovations severely lack to overcome these issues while wet diving. There may or may not be a solution to altering our bodies’ chemistry and physiology in response to atmospheric pressure and the resulting partial pressures of breathing gasses. The best alternatives, in managing physical comfort and life systems providing optimal atmospheric management, are the focus today, and have enabled some truly amazing undersea explorations.
In a world where liabilities impose limits rather than creativity, it is going to continue to be so incredibly difficult to operate ahead of the times much as Cousteau did 50 years ago, let alone intently pursue a vision. But those individuals are out there…
Until some brave soul signs up for the surgical addition of gills, with this post, I invite and encourage you to honor those other bold and notable contributions to manned intervention of our oceans.
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