Keep scrolling for the chart that shows how deep in the ocean MH370’s may be

Richard Deitsch highlights this chart showing the possible depth of MH370’s black box. I’m not copying it here because it is one long chart.

Two things the chart does well:

1. On the way down to 15,000 feet, it shows relative heights and depths of other objects. Buildings don’t even come close and animal life is limited.

2. The effect of continued scrolling highlights just how deep the black box may be. The chart could have shrunk to fit the screen or a typical newspaper page but it would then lose the interactive element of going down more and more.

Planning for floating cities

A Dutch architect is taking inspiration from designing houseboats and thinking about cities built to float on the water:

Olthuis, who along with building partner Dutch Docklands, designed a section of floating islands for Dubai’s man-made Palm Islands development project, has also created a patent which scales up the technology used for a houseboat to floating structures big enough to hold cars, roads and houses.

“Water is a workable building layer or a floating foundation and if you turn water into space, which is a dramatic change of mindset, there’s a whole new world of possibilities,” Olthuis told Reuters…

“It is just a floating foundation, mostly made of concrete and foam which is quite stable, heavy, and goes up and down with waves and up and down with the sea level,” he said.

The floating city of the future is still a dream, but Olthuis’s firm, WaterStudio, which he started a decade ago, designs buildings and floating structures which try to combat the challenges posed by rising sea levels.

Sounds interesting but I imagine it is a ways away from being used for large-scale development.

The article suggests it is currently being used in one setting and is envisioned for another key use: it is currently for the wealthy but could be used in the future to help combat the rise of the oceans due to global warming. I wonder if it might have more practical uses today: imagine new tourist, residential, and commercial destinations built in major cities like New York or Chicago that are out over the water (not just in the water or relatively close to shore). What about relieving overcrowding in some cities by building out over the water? What about being able to put essential infrastructure out on the water (power plants, water treatment facilities, etc.)? If cities weren’t as limited by land and could utilize the water surface as well, this would encourage new opportunities.

Building libertarian cities in the middle of the ocean

This has been talked about for a while but here is a brief update on independent libertarian cities to be built in the oceans:

Pay Pal founder and early Facebook investor Peter Thiel has given $1.25 million to an initiative to create floating libertarian countries in international waters, according to a profile of the billionaire in Details magazine.

Thiel has been a big backer of the Seasteading Institute, which seeks to build sovereign nations on oil rig-like platforms to occupy waters beyond the reach of law-of-the-sea treaties. The idea is for these countries to start from scratch–free from the laws, regulations, and moral codes of any existing place. Details says the experiment would be “a kind of floating petri dish for implementing policies that libertarians, stymied by indifference at the voting booths, have been unable to advance: no welfare, looser building codes, no minimum wage, and few restrictions on weapons.”…

The Seasteading Institute’s Patri Friedman says the group plans to launch an office park off the San Francisco coast next year, with the first full-time settlements following seven years later.

While this sounds like some post-apocalyptic scene, these cities could provide an interesting Lord of the Flies situation. Even though these places will (or may) be built in order to escape regulations, they will have to adopt rules and norms of their own in order to survive. I will be interested to see what sort of society will develop in these new cities.

I also imagine that someone will try to control what happens on these islands. Although these places may be in international waters, I think there will be a discussion about how these rules should be altered. Won’t someone want to tax what happens on these islands or to make sure that they are not national security threats?