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OU on the BBC: Science Shack - Can you live underwater?

Updated Monday, 12th June 2006

Summary for the 'Can You Live Underwater?' programme, part of the BBC/OU's Science Shack series.

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Adam Hart-Davis on a waterwheel Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: BBC

Adam and the aquashack Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: BBC The Science Shack team attempt to sink the Shack so Adam can see if it’s possible to live underwater. But unlike all previous manmade underwater habitats, they get rid of the life supporting links to the surface. The AquaShack is the first self-sufficient, self-sustaining underwater house ever made.

The team face big problems – just overcoming buoyancy to sink the Shack and making it airtight, for a start. Then they have to make it strong enough to resist the huge upward force trying to rip the roof off, caused by the air contained inside. The team soon realise they’ll have to sink the idea of using the actual Science Shack. But after a brainwave inspired by rubbish, they build an entirely new underwater shack instead – using two builder's skips.

Adam compares life underwater to life inside a closed ecological system – it’s the same technology needed for any long-term manned mission to Mars. They must generate oxygen, grow food, obtain fresh water and deal with Adam’s waste.

But the team – and the AquaShack – somehow manage to cope under pressure, and in a dramatic finale Adam gets his first taste of underwater living!

Could you create an ecosystem underwater? See if you can create life in a bottle with the Underwater Challenge.

Web links

Advanced Life Support
Information from the experts at NASA on closed life support systems.

Aquarius Laboratory
The world’s only operational underwater laboratory.

Biosphere 2
The largest closed, artificial environment on Earth.

The BBC and the Open University are not responsible for the content of external websites.

First broadcast: Friday 2 Nov 2001 on BBC TWO

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