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Security island: The rich wanted to live in floating cities

The coronavirus pandemic managed to resurrect one of the most famous legends – the myth of Atlantis. The idea of ​​a fertile island with wise rulers and decent citizens got a second chance thanks to Seasteading. This is what they call living in autonomous floating cities, where their own laws apply. 

According to representatives of this movement, communities drifting in the open sea are almost the only chance to save the planet from death. A Floating salvation from all troubles

The regime of self-isolation affected not only ordinary people, but also the rich, who were also forced to wait out quarantine somewhere. Then realtors recorded an unprecedented demand for luxury real estate: luxurious mansions, Scottish castles, uninhabited islands in the Caribbean and even bunkers. Interest in private jets and yachts has also grown : you still need to get to your real estate somehow.

Even inside impregnable bomb shelters, the rich provided for themselves huge pools, gyms and cinemas. Most of these facilities are located in the United States or Europe at the site of abandoned military bases. However, billionaires from Silicon Valley chose New Zealand as their location – a quiet place away from any shocks and external threats.

Hopper Vivos
Hopper Vivos Photo: terravivos.com

“She is not an enemy to anyone. This is not a target for a nuclear strike. This is not a goal for war. This is a place where people seek refuge,” explains Gary Lynch, director of bunker manufacturing company. 

Former Prime Minister John Key also echoes him:

“I know many people who told me that they would like to have housing in New Zealand if the world went to hell.”

The founder of the PayPal payment system and the first investor of Facebook, Peter Thiel, have already acquired a bunker in the country. However, back in 2008, he invested in an organization called The Seasteading Institute, which is now the main company on the market promoting the concept of cities in the middle of the ocean.

Sail away from the problems

In general, the very idea of ​​a floating island is not fundamentally new – it exists in nature and is found. Very often, a strong wind rips out coastal plants in a pond, cattail or reed, knocks them into a heap and “sends them on a trip.” It happens that a large piece of peat floats to the surface of the swamp. Sometimes such a moving part of the land can stop in place, grow and become a full-fledged island.

People often populated this land or used it for economic activities (they grew rice or wheat). So, it is known about the tribe of Uru Indians living on the shores of Lake Titicaca. They hid on the floating islands from their warlike Inca neighbors, who could make them slaves. On a piece of land, where the whole village was easily located, the Uru tribe completely created the entire infrastructure. The Indians even had a watchtower.

Floating Village on Lake Titicaca
Floating Village on Lake Titicaca Photo: CHROMORANGE / Legion

Subsequently, designers and architects repeatedly beat decisions like “house + water”. Private residences were built near the water, in the water, above the water on the supports, they even simply rafted someone’s mansion along the river. However, all these findings are still integrated into the urban environment and have nothing to do with independence and the Seasteading philosophy. His ideologist was American partner Thiel Patri Friedman.

He has a remarkable pedigree. His father is David Friedman , the libertarian economist , the author of the original model of anarcho-capitalism, where everything, including the law, is created solely thanks to the free market. Grandfather – Nobel Prize winner in economics Milton Friedman , who received an award for research in the field of consumer economics. His theory was at the heart of the Federal Reserve’s (Fed) action plan during the 2007-2008 global financial crisis.

Patri, an engineer and former employee at Google, left the corporation on his birthday to devote his time to developing Seasteading-building. The term comes from English homesteading , which can be translated as “creating a home for yourself in new, uninhabited places.” When replacing home with the sea , it turns out that you need to look for housing somewhere in the vast expanses of the ocean. As they say in the organization, experiments are the engine of progress: to find something better, you must try something new.

Patry friedman
Patry friedman Frame: TEDx Talks / Youtube video

Quarantine and work on a remote site showed that it is not necessary to constantly be in the office to be effective. Just during the lockdown, it was reported that billionaires from Silicon Valley considered floating cities to be promising and wanted to reserve a place there. The same is true for the seasteading – they are convinced that independent communities on the high seas will become the dwelling of a new generation.

Wave house

Autonomous communities are positioned as a way to solve many problems, and not just as a refuge for the rich who want to hide from infection. Firstly, the system tries to be as environmentally friendly as possible. The island’s life is based on the concept of sustainable development, which provides for the principle of zero waste. As for energy consumption, at the initial stages of the development of the project, when life is just getting better, a certain part of the resources will be received by mariners from the country in whose territorial waters they are located.

In the future, it is planned to use biofuels, solar, wind and wave energy. On vertical farms they will grow fresh products, and receive seafood – doing aquaculture. Surplus food and energy can be sold to the host country or even exported.

Another problem that floating cities come in handy for is raising the world’s oceans, which is due to global warming. Some island countries will need solutions very soon, say the Institute of Seasteading. They are already preparing a plan to save important infrastructure facilities of different states in the event of a threat of flooding.

Over time, systeders become more autonomous and go further into the ocean, the Blue21 floating city development concept says.
Over time, seasteaders become more autonomous and go further into the ocean, the Blue21 floating city development concept says. Image: www.blue21

Also, according to the creators of the floating cities, they will help with the overpopulation of megacities, the safety of citizens and a poor management system in the country (people will independently manage what is happening around, and not through intermediary officials). The threat of tsunamis or pirates is not frightening for seasteading- objects will be built from reliable materials and in quiet areas.

It would seem that becoming a resident of a floating city is like enrolling in space tourists. However, future sailors do not have any special requirements. Nevertheless, it is important to be a responsible and sociable person – on the territory of the island, if he is in neutral waters, only those rules apply that the participants of the trip will develop on their own. The seasteading rules are still subject to international law, but the internal charter will carry weight.

“We expect that the first communities will primarily attract adventurers, innovators and pioneers by nature. Building on the ocean is not easy and not cheap. Our first inland settlements should be accessible to the middle class of developed countries, and we hope that new materials and technologies will help lower prices so that in the end everyone can become a seasteader,” the authors of the project say.

The functioning of the first floating cities will be run off the coast, and after all the checks, the community will go further into the sea. “Building for the open ocean is technically possible, but at present it is extremely expensive and complicated. Establishing partnerships with host countries solves both of these problems and allows us to quickly open the sea space to more people,” the Institute explains.

The life of the seasteading-manager, as planned, will not be different from the life of any developed country. On the territory there will be all the usual types of real estate: condominiums, apartments, offices. Housing can be rented, sold and bought. It will not do without schools, shops, restaurants and medical facilities. There are opportunities for work in the field of agriculture, aquaculture, as well as ecology, wave energy, nanotechnology and computer science. The inhabitants of the island do not pay taxes, but periodic fees for maintaining the infrastructure are possible (depends on the internal charter).

At the same time, the seasteading managers do not consider themselves crazy hermits and say that they are “interested in a peaceful exchange of ideas and trade with other countries at the local, regional and international levels. We want to be good neighbors for those around us. We value openness, choice and transparency as a blessing to all. ”

Agree on the shore

Such stories really sound promising, although in practice it is much more difficult to implement. But any projects of the Institute of Seasteading are carried out taking into account the Eight Great Moral Imperatives – the internal code of ethics. It sounds like this: enrich the poor, cure the sick, feed the hungry, clean the air, restore the oceans, live in harmony with nature, restore stability to the world and stop fighting. This is what the representatives of the movement are trying to achieve with the help of independent communities on the water.

Floating Island Project - Concept 1
Floating Island Project – Concept 1Image: blue-frontiers.com
The project of a floating island in the waters of French Polynesia, which was never realized due to the political struggle in the country.

The organization’s first project, Ocean Builders, is deployed in Panama. It represents the production of “ocean mushrooms” – double modules in shallow water with all amenities, called SeaPod. Such housing impresses with its compactness, chamberness and gorgeous ocean view. However, so far this model is only being developed.

Ventive Floathouse in California, specializes in modular capsule dwellings. Thanks to the special design, it can be either a single house-float, or an entire community, united in a “snowflake”. Several of these communities can be turned into a whole city. Information on the value of the property is disclosed upon request.

The company Blue Frontiers, is currently negotiating the creation of a special economic zone for Seasteading, but so far they have not led to any results. It was with this company that in 2017 was associated both a major success, and at the same time a serious failure in the creation of floating islands. Then the government of French Polynesia (controlled by France, located in the South Pacific) gave the green light to the project, but because of the tense political situation in the country, it had to be curtailed.

Terraces - bird's eye view
Terraces – bird’s eye view Image: blueseed.com

No less ambitious undertaking is the Blueseed cruise ship off the coast of San Francisco. A business incubator was supposed to appear here. To take part in the project, beginning entrepreneurs would not even have to apply for a work visa. It was planned that successful startups “descend” from the ship to the shore and are implemented directly in the Silicon Valley, located nearby. But in 2014, after repeated attempts to attract financing, the project had to be curtailed.

At the moment, not a single seasteading-project has been fully implemented. Basically, everything depends on financing. In order to build even a single module on the ocean, a significant investment is required. Not every “representative of the middle class of a developed country” can pay such an amount. This whole story, in spite of convincing arguments and good goals, for the time being remains a utopian and beautiful fairy tale.

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Planet Earth

Geologists have confirmed a strange unprecedented “boomerang” earthquake deep under the Atlantic Ocean

Earthquakes come and go, often leaving destruction behind. What they luckily don’t usually do is turn around immediately and come back for another push. Except … it looks like they can do it on very rare occasions.

In a new study, scientists have uncovered evidence of an unusual and almost unprecedented boomerang earthquake that shook the deep seafloor under the Atlantic Ocean in 2016.

This earthquake, dubbed “reverse super-shear rupture”, occurred along the Romansh fracture. It is an area that lies near the equator, about halfway between the east coast of Brazil and the west coast of Africa.

The rift, which stretches about 900 kilometers between the South American and African tectonic plates, adjacent to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, caused a 7.1 magnitude earthquake in August 2016, which was detected by underwater seismometers in the region, as well as by remote monitoring stations.

Analysis of the signals reveals that this was not an ordinary earthquake, but a strange earthquake that went one way before turning around and returning and with a significant increase in speed.

“While scientists have found that this reverse rupture mechanism is possible on the basis of theoretical models, our new study provides some of the clearest evidence that this mysterious mechanism actually occurs,” Stephen Hicks said, lead researcher and seismologist of Imperial College London.

According to the analysis of seismic data, the 2016 earthquake had two separate phases.

First, the rip extended upward and eastward towards the weak point where the rip zone meets the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Then, in a sudden U-turn, an “unusual westward propagation” occurred, with the tremors returning to the center of the fault and at significantly accelerated “super-shear” velocities of up to 6 kilometers per second.

“Even though the structure of the fault appears to be simple, the quake grew differently, and it was completely the opposite of how we expected the quake to look before we started analyzing the data.”

While the team’s explanation for how this boomerang unfolded remains speculative so far, the researchers speculate that the first, deep phase of the quake released enough fracture energy to initiate a reversal of the rift in the shallower, western underwater terrain.

“Either both sections of the fault were preseismically loaded enough to promote seismogenic failure, or the deeper SE1 fracture instantly increased static stress, immediately causing the shallower portion of SE2 to collapse,” the authors explain in their paper.

Although earthquakes propagating in the opposite direction have been studied by seismologists before, so far there has been little evidence of their existence, and this phenomenon is mainly observed in theoretical modeling.

Finding this type in the real world – in the middle of the ocean – is the first of its kind, not to mention the boomerang that returned at super shear speed.

“To my knowledge, this is the first time this has been reported,” geophysicist Yoshihiro Kaneko of GNS Science in New Zealand, who was not part of the research team, told National Geographic.

The results are reported to Nature Geoscience.

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Planet Earth

What is the real cause of explosions and fires around the world in the past few days?

What has caused all these giant explosions and apocalyptic fires in China, North Korea, Lebanon, India, USA, Iraq, Iran over the past few days?

China

It all began on August 3, 2020 in the Chinese province of Hubei, where an instant explosion at a chemical plant killed at least six people and injured four. The reason is under investigation.

North Korea

This first explosion was followed a few hours later by a giant explosion following a possible “gas leak” in Hyesan, Yangan Province, North Korea, killing 9 people and injuring at least 30 residents. The reason is being investigated.

Lebanon

The next day, the port area of ​​Beirut, Lebanon, was destroyed by a giant explosion, killing more than 140 people and injuring thousands.

India

Also on the afternoon of August 4, 2020, an explosion caused panic among residents living around the Vijayshree Pharma Company plant in the Rambilli Zone FEZ in Vishakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh, India. The reason is being investigated.

Great Britain

On 4 August, an explosion occurred again in the middle of a residential street in Birmingham, UK, causing smoke and fireballs to rise into the air and residents fleeing to seek refuge. The explosion was so strong that fire alarms went off in the houses.

United States of America

Finally, on Tuesday, firefighters put out a massive fire in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota, that engulfed a building under construction. When the firefighters arrived at about 4:20 am, the flames were flying high into the air, and the glow was visible for miles.

Iran

A fire broke out on Tuesday inside three industrial warehouses east of Tehran. The fire destroyed production materials, including lumber and leather.

Then, on August 5, at least seven ships burst into flames at a shipyard in the southern Iranian port of Bushehr. According to reports, the reason remains unclear, no casualties.

United Arab Emirates

On 5 August 2020, on Wednesday evening at 18:30, a fire broke out in a market in the emirate of Ajman, 50 km from Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates. The reason is being investigated.

China

A gas pipeline exploded and several roads collapsed after torrential rains flooded parts of Yulin, a city in China’s northwestern Shaanxi province. Local authorities evacuated about 600 people from the area. The reason is being investigated.

United States of America

On the same day in Midland, Texas, an investigation is under way of an explosion and subsequent fire in an oil storage facility. The reason is also unknown.

Iraq

Again, on August 6, 2020, a major fire broke out in over 20 wholesale market warehouses in Najaf, Iraq. The reasons are being investigated.

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Planet Earth

Geneticists have clarified the origin of American slaves

Frame from the movie "Django Unchained" - imdb.com

It is the largest study of DNA from people living in the Americas. It shows where the slaves came from in the United States and reveals the details of their abuse.

The work includes information on 50 thousand people, of which 30 thousand are of African origin. The article, published in the American Journal of Human Genetics , serves as “evidence that genetics can shed light on history,” said Alondra Nelson, professor of social sciences at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.

The study began with the work of Joanna Mountain, senior director of research at the company 23andMe. Together with the team, she created a genetic database, which included mainly information about the company’s clients, whose grandparents were born in regions where slavery flourished. Dr. Stephen Micheletti, the geneticist at 23andMe who led the study, compared it to data from the Slave Travels digital project, which contains information about the people brought in: information on ports of embarkation and disembarkation, the number of enslaved men, women and children. He also collaborated with historians to learn more about the plight of African regions, such as contemporary Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in the 17th and 19th centuries.

Scientists have found out: the DNA of the study participants from the United States showed their Nigerian origin. This means that there are far more ships that transported enslaved people directly to America from Nigeria than would be expected based on historical records. 

At first, historians “could not believe how many Nigerian ancestors were there in the United States,” Micheletti said. 

Later, after consulting with experts, the study authors learned that slaves were first sent to the British Caribbean Islands, and only then sold to the Americans.

Percentage of people of African descent in Africa, the Americas, and Europe. Red denotes the descendants of slaves from Senegal and Gambia, blue - from the west coast of Africa, green - from Nigeria, orange - from Congo / © Stephen Micheletti
Percentage of people of African descent in Africa, the Americas, and Europe. Red denotes the descendants of slaves from Senegal and Gambia, blue – from the west coast of Africa, green – from Nigeria, orange – from Congo / © Stephen Micheletti

Experts estimate that more than half of the people were brought into the United States and Latin America from West Africa. The study found that the modern black population is genetically related to six regions, among them Senegal, Gambia, Nigeria and Benin. Moreover, according to historical sources, there were more regions from which slaves were exported.

The work also showed that the brought women made a much greater contribution to the modern gene pool than men, although there were much fewer of them. Scientists have calculated that in the United States there are 1.5 times more descendants of slaves, and in Latin America and the Caribbean – 13-17 times. Moreover, in the United States, European men have influenced the modern gene pool of people of African descent three times more than European women, and 25 times more in the Caribbean.

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