This blog takes us back to the earliest of diving techniques...
The first exhibits at the History of Diving Museum illustrate a historical timeline, which reinforces the idea that there has always been a natural fascination for man to explore the deep sea, and before submarines, diving helmets and SCUBA, man employed a wide array of techniques to get there. As early as the first traces of mankind in ancient Mesopotamia, evidence confirms that diving techniques were used for a variety of applications.
As with any history, we tend to interpret it linearly, meaning we look directly at what led to our successful technologies. This approach to history, however, neglects key developments that can prove very significant to its interpretation. In the historical timeline, improbable diving machines present that segment in history almost lost because of an indirect link to the diving techniques of today.
The "Improbable Diving Machines" exhibit pays tribute to fanciful machines that were complicated, involved, and often times, functionally unsound. Many are oddly shaped with unusual designs, but however strange they appear, they are significant to the history of diving; they stand as proof that man did whatever was necessary to venture beneath the sea, regardless of the risks involved. For this reason, improbable diving machines belong in the timeline of diving.
Many of the improbable machines displayed in the exhibit have an easily identifiable design flaw. For instance, most visitors to the museum can point out the flaw in the the leather hood and snorkel concept (pictured on the right). This whimsical machine was limited by the pressure on the diver's chest, which would have prevented him from inhaling air more than one or two feet deep (hence the length of the average snorkel). Another limitation is that the snorkel is made of leather, a collapsible material, which also would have failed because of the effects of the hydrostatic pressure. This apparatus has a unique design, and with certain tweaks (shortened length of the snorkel and constructed with a solid composite) it might have worked.
Another improbable diving machine on display at the museum is the"copper kettle," designed by Karl Heinrich Klingert, a German-born mechanical engineer. Credited as an innovator in diving, his copper kettle shares many similiarities to the diving helmet, which wouldn't be developed commercially for nearly a century. One of the first examples of self-contained diving, Klingert's design used a large reservoir piston or could be supplied from the surface. The copper kettle was used successfully in 1797, when a diver wearing Klingert's outfit removed a submerged tree limb from the River Oder in Germany.