Die Eroberung der Meere: die Unterwasserlaboratorien Helgoland (BRD) und Tektite (USA) im Umweltdiskurs 1968-1973
Title: Die Eroberung der Meere: die Unterwasserlaboratorien Helgoland (BRD) und Tektite (USA) im Umweltdiskurs 1968-1973
Author: MEŠINOVIC, Sven Asim
Series/Number: EUI PhD theses; Department of History and Civilization
The dissertation deals with a forgotten vision of the future from the 1960s: the construction of underwater habitats on the sea-floor. Between 1960 and 1980, 17 states built 60 stations on the seabed. Dealing with the underwater habitats Helgoland (Federal Republic of Germany) and Tektite (United States) the dissertation focusses on the links between underwater habitats and the debate on the "conquest" of the seabed, the international law debate of the sea-floor as a common good and the popular culture of settling the oceans. The history of underwater laboratories is a history of man´s adaptation to other atmospheres. The idea was to find out if and how long one can live in a habitat beneath the sea under different atmospheric pressures. Living in a habitat beneath the sea was also a possibility for marine biologist to carry out "in situ" studies. The habitats were also used to expose humans to different mixtures of gases: At the same time when these biologists were sitting in the habitat, medical studies were carry out on them to see how the human body can adapt to different atmospheres. Especially these questions were important for working out parameters for future space cabins. Therefore underwater laboratories reproduced the terrestrial atmosphere as a life-enabling system. The idea was not only to reproduce the same atmosphere as it is on the earth, the idea was to recreate an atmosphere which would enable human living. However, on the first aquanaut mission in the German underwater laboratory, problems such as ear infections (caused by the humid atmosphere) were observed in the aquanauts. Apparently, the idea of recreating an “environment” beyond the Earth entailed basic problems related to human adaptation. If our understanding of the environment is circumscribed within the biological, chemical and physical habitat of Man, the case study of the underwater laboratory then begs the question of how culture and Man’s nature interact, and is affected by habitat.
Defence date: 23 March 2012; Prof. Dr. Sebastian Conrad (FU-Berlin) - Supervisor; Prof. Dr. Martin van Gelderen (EUI); PD. Dr. Sabine Höhler (Associate Professor, KTH, Schweden); Prof. Dr. Helmuth Trischler (Rachel-Carson Center, LMU München)
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