Some machines swim

One, unseen, already-submerged diver was filming near to a hole in the thick ice sheet above: as the elegant cylinder dropped vertically at high speed through the still, -1°C, water below. Immediately, as though alive, the vehicle swung gracefully into level flight towing a tail of yellow cable behind it. Ministering to and checking on the machine on this, one of its early test swims, was a black-clad, scuba diver.

The Lad was transfixed by the magic sight in the vast under seascape of a thousand shades of blue and green. The voyager looked as though it had been born there instead of being designed by human beings. Tell-tale features, though, were the lights: a white searchlight beam for a camera and a pair of scarlet, laser beams lancing through the gin-clear water from each side of the nose of the vehicle. Another was the complex internal structure clearly visible with, not the fluent curves of a living body, but the lineaments of straight lines and exact circles of a densely packed machine. It was about 2m long and 20 cm in diameter.

It was the 30 November 2011 and “The Frozen Planet” Part 6, ‘The Last Frontier’ on BBC Television that was the unexpected carrier of the strikingly beautiful images of this example of the art of the engineer.

Then the vehicle darted straight ahead at least twice its previous speed into a corridor among the irregular blocks of the ice pack above. It gave an impression of a shark but without any sweep of a muscular tail but with a rapidly accelerated spin of a propeller.

The Lad was captivated and vowed to find out more of this masterpiece. A search only just begun and the results will be reported here. This machine seemed to The Lad to encapsulate what engineers do.

Engineering is one of the three drivers in the advancement of the human race. This blog aims to give to career seekers and also to the general public a taste of how this might be so. They are not well served by the current media. It is an engineer posting: not a ‘scientist’. It describes real professional engineering as it is in the real world usually in the present and occasionally as it was in the recent past.

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