First placed on the Internet July 2008|
A unique structure could provide many benefits for humanity. It could enable great health and prosperity for families, villages, cities and even larger regions which are now desperately dealing with starvation, severe health issues and availability of safe drinking water!
In addition, stability and safety of entire villages and communities might be secured. Initially, countries such as Bangladesh and Indonesia and many island nations might benefit from this first, as an ENTIRE replacement for their countries! Their new countries would FLOAT on the ocean. In that way, they would be forever immune to concerns regarding sea level rising due to global warming. They would also be able to DECIDE on what climate they might have for their country, as they would be able to slowly "sail" their country north or south as they wished in the oceans. They would be able to have farms, cities, crops, forests, jungles, zoos, sports stadiums and everything else that they had been used to in their country's previous location.
This is a top view of a hexagonal shaped artificial floating island. It is essentially a flat-bottomed barge, built somewhat like ocean-going super-tanker ships are built, and then filled with black dirt for croplands and suitable aggregate material for where cities or roads would be.
Each edge is 1000 feet long, and the total surface area is therefore around 60 acres. A hexagonal shape is chosen to enable groups of these artificial islands to be joined together, much the way that large ships are secured to a pier. In fact, if 520 of these hexagons were joined together, they would have a total area of around the 48 square miles of the city of Boston, Massachusetts! That would include Fenway Park and all the houses and buildings and parks and all the airports and Museums, where residents would not even necessarily know that they were no longer in Massachusetts but somewhere safely floating on an ocean!
(The entire State of Rhode Island is only around twenty times larger than that!)
WHY would this be desirable? Or actually NECESSARY? The official ALTITUDE of Boston is now about feet above sealevel. But with just the melting of all the glaciers on Greenland, researchers have found that ALL ocean levels will rise by 22 feet! This seems LIKELY to happen before the end of THIS CENTURY. And not just Greenland is melting! The ice on top of Antarctica is more than ten times that much ice, meaning that if and when that all melts, ocean levels are LIKELY to rise by more than 220 feet! Add in all the other glaciers and ice that is likely to melt, and realistic estimates suggest that all the oceans will rise by at least 350 feet. ANY building in Boston that is not at least 40 stories tall, will have disappeared under the ocean. All of Florida, and all of entire countries like Bangladesh and Indonesia (fourth and fifth largest populations in the world, each around 200 million people.
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But what if people PLANNED AHEAD? As ocean levels started to rise, the people of Boston would have 520 of these hexagons built (at an estimated cost of around $18 million each, or around $9 billion total cost. A lot, but not even close to the amounts that governments and big businesses spend! (In the First Quarter of this year, the five major oil companies announced $35 BILLION in profits! THEY could make the needed 520 hexagons very easily!) And then residents of each neighborhood would HAVE AN OPTION, of staying where they were, or having their home MOVED onto a New Boston. If everyone wanted in, then each neighborhood could even LOOK as it does today, although many people might choose to live somewhere else or in a different house than now.
One at a time, the hexagons wouldbe towed to a pier where homes and baseball fields and Museums would be transferred to that hexagon, to then be towed back out to sea and the next hexagon loaded. Out at sea, the hexagons would be bound together, to form one contiguous area the size of the city of Boston.
Later, if a hurricane was to be a problem, the entire floating city would be towed out to a different location where it was safe. If the residents voted to avoid winter weather, they could have Boston towed down to the Bahamas for a few months!
And as the ocean levels continued to rise, this entire New Boston city would very gradually rise with it, as it is all FLOATING!
This is pointing out that if some city in Bangladesh or India might need to find new locations for millions of people in short order (after a tsunami or a typhoon (hurricane) or due to sea level rises related to global warming), enormous numbers of people might be able to be successfully moved very quickly and relatively easily.
Such very large artificial islands might also be of wonderful benefit NOW during major disasters. A single sixty-acre island could have an entire Hospital, fully set up with all the best technologies and equipment, and top rated Operating Rooms. (the very large dimensions of these islands eliminate any rocking due to wave motions, even better than ocean liners do. A Surgeon would never need to worry about any sudden movement of the island affecting his/her success.)
An entire village could also exist on the hexagon where the Surgeons, Nurses and staff might live.
Another such artificial island could have hundreds of warehouses full of food, water, tents and the other items which are urgently needed after a major disaster. For example, when a hurricane is approaching the US Gulf Coast, a Hospital Hexagon and a Supplies Hexagon and maybe several hexagons with thousands of short-term houses could arrive in the area within a few days (or quicker), nearly eliminating the sad situations after recent hurricanes. American cities generally have between 3,000 and 25,000 people per square mile. A group of ten of these artificial islands would be around one square mile area, roughly the size of many American cities of around 5,000 population. (That includes stores, schools, parks, and all the rest of what is part of modern society.)
(This drawing is to suggest a flat-bottomed island before it is filled with any soil. This does NOT show any of the steel beams and trusses welded to the bottom to maintain structural integrity) These comments are to show that these artificial islands could provide great flexibility in solving many needs of modern society. But at the other extreme, the 60-acre islands could be used for farming. The entire 60-acre area would be filled in with three or four feet deep of rich black dirt. By being able to float north or south, such a farm could avoid extreme heat or cold and ensure excellent crop production. If the decision was made to grow wheat, the island could be moved farther from the Equator, while vegetables or pineapples or rice might need a move toward the Equator during winter. Again, such hexagon-shaped islands could be joined to form even larger farms as necessary. A farm to provide Citrus could contain many thousands of citrus trees on most of the 60 acres, for very large crop production. By being able to float the island north or south, there would never be any dangers of frost or overheating, ensuring excellent crops every year. In fact, islands could move around in the ocean to provide Citrus and vegetables and fruits ALL YEAR!
(This drawing is to suggest what the hexagonal island would look like once it has been filled with soil [except shown white here] to provide a flat top surface for either farming or for parks and yards and houses to be arranged.)
Such islands might even be BETTER than aircraft carriers for military or disaster support usage! Instead of being limited to a 1,000 foot long takeoff and landing strip, four or more hexagonal islands could be joined to provide more conventional 7,000 foot long runways! Even complete airports might be able to be on such hexagon islands, thereby NOT using up valuable land space! Regarding Runway Maintenance, ONE extra section of Runway (an extra hexagon) could replace one section at a time, where only very brief interruptions of service would then occur. And the entire airport could be ROTATED so that the runway was always aligned with the wind, for safer takeoffs and landings!
It even seems that the possibility of such islands might make for far more inexpensive Prisons than the US now has. If anchored a hundred miles from the shore, the chances of escape would be fairly difficult, so the Inmates might not even need to be kept inside of cells. Their life might be far more similar to civilian life, such that they might be more suitable for returning to society from such an environment than from current prisons. Recidivism might drop far below the current rates for released prisoners. A simple radar installation would monitor any boats or aircraft that would approach the prison island, to make sure that no such escapes would occur. I would think that a far smaller Staff would be needed, at far less expense. I have seen reports that when the construction of modern penitentiaries is added to the operating costs and staff wages, each modern prison inmate costs the US taxpayers over $100,000 every year! I would think that this sort of island would have FAR lower operating expenses, as well as tremendously lower construction costs. Since the inmates would NOT be inside cells, they would have some freedom to start up small businesses, such as making shoes or clothing or growing vegetables for other inmates, as profit-oriented businesses. They might therefore become very prepared to be released back into normal society.
Currently, at least two billion of the six billion people now living on Earth struggle to find enough food and enough safe drinking water for their families. Much of this is due to the locations and climates in which such people live, such as in or near deserts or monsoon-susceptible plains. A potential solution seems possible and worth testing out.
Consider building a steel boat, actually a barge, which is around six times the area of a modern large ocean luxury cruise ship. Specifically, a hexagonal shaped craft which has edges which are each 1,000 feet in length. This size has a total surface area of around 59.6 acres, which we will call 60 acres here.
The structure would be relatively similar to the construction of ocean-going ships, except that it probably could be built of thinner plates of steel, to both reduce the expense of construction and the consumption of available steel. The reason that it should be able to be built of lighter construction would be that a roof-truss-style construction could be used, except upside down! On TOP of the flat bottom would be welded truss structures which might be two-feet high. These structures would stiffen the bottom of the craft.
The barge would be provided with VERTICAL sides which might be 10 feet tall. This would create a DISPLACEMENT of around 831,000 tons, several times greater than the largest current oil tanker ships, but not tremendously greater than current construction methods are familiar with.
Built as a flat-bottomed barge, it would then be filled with maybe three feet deep of black dirt. That mass of dirt would partially depress the craft into the water, where around half of its volume would still be above sea level. The very large dimensions of the craft would make it essentially immune to any wave action, and it would remain rock-solid at all times, even during serious storms.
Some of the sidewalls might be extended upward to reduce storm waves from washing over the windward side, and the structure could then be rotated so the taller protective walls would be toward any large incoming waves.
Given that the craft could be moved at will, it should be possible to have crops growing 12 months of every year, where fruits and vegetables would therefore always be available fresh.
The three-feet-deep of black dirt would be around 390,000 tons would increase the total weight to around 450,000 gross tons, which would cause a displacement which would be a little over five feet deep.
The residents could use the HG 3a heating system to heat their homes and buildings, and the free A/C to provide cooling, and the atmospheric humidity capture to supply fresh water, and even the bellows version of the refrigeration and freezing capabilities. They would essentially be self-contained! NO fossil-fuels would ever be needed, and yet they would have most of the aspects of modern life.
The hexagonal shape would be to enable two or three or six or a thousand of these craft to join together, for a larger community or larger farms.
C Johnson, Theoretical Physicist, Physics Degree from Univ of Chicago