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tv   Tech Know  Al Jazeera  April 5, 2015 12:30pm-1:01pm EDT

12:30 pm houthi rebels advance in aden despite airstrikes the headline there and much more on the situation in kenya. stay with us. more news to come in half an hour's time. hardware and heuvment and we're doing it in a unique way. this is a show about science, by scientists. tonight, "techknow" investigates mining the deep. dr. shini somara is a mechanical engineer. tonight, one company's ambitious plan that could be worth a
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fortune in gold silver and copper. they think about metals and owhole lot of money. marita davison, can science and industry coexist? >> industry's motivation is to make profits. >> i'm phil torres. i'm an entomologist. i go on a journey of a lifetime, ten days off the coast of costa rica. including a dive in a submarine. there prepare to dive. >> that will take me down to 10,000 feet under the sea. >> i get paid to play in mud. like my dreams. >> that's our team. now let's do some science. ♪ ♪ ♪ >> hey guys welcome to
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"techknow" i'm phil torres joined by marita davison and dr. shini somara. the earth is covered by ocean yet we know about the planets more than we do about the surface of the ocean. my question to you is, why should we care about what's down there? >> we are just starting to understand how the ocean and the deep ocean is going to be on providing global scale. >> and it seems like a harsh landscape down there and very, very far down. and there are a few technologies that allow us to go down there and you have a chance to go down there. >> 10,000 feet, just to get a chance to go down there it's tricky. i had a chance in a submarine called alvin. take a look. >> as we look for signs of life in
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space, these sients of the scientists of the deep are unlocking the secrets of below. >> what we're doing is astronauts and planetary scientists trying to study the life on another planet. >> oceans cover city% of the earth's surface with only a small parnlg part of it explored. we are traveling to costa rica to begin research of an underwater mountain the dorado outcrop. while biologists like me tend to focus or interest on the biodiversity of costa rica hundreds of miles to the see getting to the dive site is a major undertaking. we start to head to atlantis
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our home base for the next 12 days. ♪ ♪ ♪ >> one of the most sophisticated research vessels in the world. it's a navy ship with a crew of 50 technicians and scientists. its secret weapon: is a middle aged submarine with a nerdy name. meet alvin. we're going to the bottom of the see floor, 10,000 feet below. alvin is a deep water submersible built for scientific research. capable of taking explorers down to 20,000 feet under the sea. it once dove to the titanic
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wreck in the north atlantic. showing the world secrets of the famous sunken ship. >> when you are alvin and you're looking out, you look at everything in three dimensions. as a scientist it helps you define the whole geologic context. >> the dorado outcrop. only ahandful of scientists have studied these outcroppings. >> sediments in the ocean have one of the largest reservoirs of microbial life on earth. >> what are the questions you hope to answer as a scientist? >> fluid composition.
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>> deep water heating and cooling systems. until the dorado outcrop outcrop expedition, how it's filtered through earth's crust. >> you have the sea water that's circulating through the crust so even if you take a little bit of the pag knees magnesium or carbon dioxide, even a 1% anomaly could be huge on a global scale. >> aboard atlantis technicians work around the crop prepping alvin for its dive as scientists fine tune their experiments. >> tomorrow we'll go to marmer marker m. >> this area is filled with clues on global water patterns
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and how this life exists without sunshine. the newly discovered scientific data is priceless. >> probably on the order of $50,000 a day. >> and ensuring safety is a big priority. >> there is no other alvin so all sorts of problems can crop up but we have a lot of measures in place to make sure that safety's never compromised. >> before my dive i get an extensive safety training right in the belly of the beast. >> these are the redundant atmosphere detectors and we'll monitor. if you are ever in a problem right to the underwater telephone and call the surface and say you need some assistance. >> apparently it gets pretty cold down there. they told me to bring a cap, some nice wool socks and sweater. as with everything the alvin crew does nothing is left to the
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last minute so i get today, it will be waiting for me tomorrow on the sub. my dive day is here. shortly i'll be taking a ride in alvin to the bottom of the sea and i'm trying to play it cool. we just got our final call to go inside alvin. if all goes well in acouple of hours i'll be 10,000 feet below and to be honest i'm pretty darned excited. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪
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>> nice job! >> watch out. 3200 meters, prepared to drive when the silvers are clear. 3-0-30. >> alvin descends at a crawl a steady 2 knots. >> it's going down faster and then drive us over to about here. >> now we're under 50 meters from the bottom of the ocean. we should be seeing land pretty soon. just arrived to the bottom of the sea floor. and one of the things i didn't are. it is right outside the window. take a look. directly, a octopus. >> are you excited? >> that's a want final term too. >> cool! oh my god!
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>> our first task is finding a missing note crane. >> we're finding the majority of the time to find a missing milk crate. >> scientists planted the sample on a milk crate and it went mia but we got this. >> we have found the osmo sampler. no octopus sabotage. >> we have recovered the infamous milk crate. we looked around this area about to finish our second mission of the day. >> the oxygen temperature sensor and using it to stick in one of these vents to determine how much hydrothermal water is coming out.
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>> an abundance of octopus offer a stunning visual but it's obvious something is occurring. >> what are you seeing? >> looks like it's dead. when we deployed this there was a lot of water coming out now there's none, no signs of flow coming out whatsoever. >> it's still weird. >> definitely still weird. i don't know how to explain it. >> this is how science works. what's confusing now could lead to a break through tomorrow. despite this eight-legged problem. >> so you keep trying set this temperature probe but it keeps falling over and of all things octopus keep getting in the way. >> as experiments lead to more questions we begin our two-mile assent back aconsent ascent to the surface. >> atlantis, we read you loud
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and clear. swimmers have a dive. now back safe and sound board atlantis i get an icy reception. it's a ritual for first timers making me an official alvinaut. postdive, the real work begins. >> when we found water coming out of some springs, nothing coming out of others and some of the other ones where nothing was coming out they started producing again. >> he said the discovery is that ocean vents are affected by high and low tides, caused by lunar cycles. what's amazing something two miles deep can be influenced by something 200,000 miles above. in the atlantis science lab researchers are working
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24/7 bagging documenting and freezing samples. >> half of the air we breathe, implications for frg and also energy and also for climate change. >> scientists aren't the only ones interested in unique forges like the dorado outcropping. mining companies see this and they think minerals, metals and a whole lot of money. >> and that's coming up next. we want to hear what you think about these stories. join the conversation by following us on twitter and at"techknow." >> every sunday night. >> i lived that character. >> go one on one with america's
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photos ♪ ♪ ♪♪ ♪ ♪ >> welcome back to "techknow." we're talking deep ocean. it really is the final frontier of exploration here on earth and scientists are just now beginning to understand what lives down there and how it all works. these scientists are not the only one interested. >> that scientific research of a whole lot of research down there in terms of the minerals and metals there is a rush to bring all of that to the surface. >> you know that rush is a delicate and potentially really contentious issue, because we know so little about that environment so it's tricky. >> tricky or not deep sea mining it is coming potentially within the next two years and it might bring a lot of issues with it. let's take a look. >> these days the new gold rush isn't in the hills. it's in the deep. hydrothermal vents two miles
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down. verified by the submersible alvin in 1977. and no one knows it better than scierchtscientist cindy van dover, she now consults with the undersea mining industry. >> we have been finding valuable minerals on the sea floor, the deposits that make up a hot spring and gold and silver are buy products of that. >> scientists have been can exploring the earth of precial metals. precious metals, the search is on under the sea it will the national oceanannic and atmospherickic administration k estimates there is $150 trillion in gold waiting
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ton mined from the floor of the world's oceans. >> industry's moving very, very fast. they have far more financial resources than the scientific community. >> sea bed mining is still in the planning stages but nautilus mining company report the contract in place with the island nation of papoa, nu guinea. a mining plan on its website. here is how it works. a collection machine on the sea bed breaks up the top layer of the ocean floor and pumps a semi-liquid or slurry up to the production ship. there the ore and water are separated and brought to land. "techknow" contacted nautilus minerals on the situation but they declined to
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grant our interview. here is phil torres off the coast of coast costa rica. >> how can working with academics ensure that's done responsibly? >> it's absolutely essential to have academia monitoring the works of industry. industry 's motivation is for profit. the results of not doing it that way are huge fines which cut into their profits. >> it was the discovery of hydrothermal stleants gained the interest of mining companies. high temperatures quickly cool forcing a chemical reaction between sea water and rocks causing metals like copper gold silver and zinc to form mineral deposits on the sea bed.
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cindy van dover was the first to verify the existence of hydrotherm am vents. >> the discovery is liberating to me because all the rules we knew seemed to be broken because of this chemosint chemosynthesis. >> fields of tube worms and white giant crabs that thrive in this hostile environment in complete darkness. >> it's an immense amount of life down there. this is no different than on land. just because it's not in the bottom of the middle of the ocean doesn't mean it shouldn't be handled the same way as far as i'm concerned. >> there is this window of time where we can get policy in place preindustrialization. >> as exploration continues there are two separate goals. for mining companies it's the search for precious metals and profits. for scientists it's the continued search for knowledge on the sea bed which remains
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until now almost completely unexplored. >> we can be side by side with industry, with industry doing the extraction, and the scientific community being there to help. >> coming up, the brave little submarine that could, how 50-year-old alvin continues to reveal secrets of the deep. >> i think we're into something that's bigger than us... >> that's the pain that your mother feels when you disrespect her son... >> me being here is defying all odds... >> they were patriots they wanted there country back >> al jazeera america presents the passion... >> onward.. >> pain... >> it's too much... >> ..and triumph... inspirational real life stories >> all these labels the world throws at you, that's what drives me at's what drives me
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>> part of al jazeera america's >> special month long evironmental focus fragile planet >> hey guys welcome back to "techknow." i'm phil torres, joined by marita davison and shini somara. alvin took us to the dechts of the sea and it's done -- depths of the sea and it's done so for decades few are as emblem attic atic as little alvin. >> it's still going. >> they've upgraded it but the teamworking with alvin keep discovering the greatest things and let's take a look. scientists solved one of the
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great mysteries of the deep with these underwater images. the elusive titanic was revealed to the world from over 5,000 feet under the north atlantic. and alvin made it all possible. >> i know it was a very important event for submarine, it brought great note right notoriety for the program. >> these pictures are the first to document this underwater tomb. alvin would ultimately made a dozen dives down to the titanic. sealing its place in history. ♪ ♪ >> alvin, a 50-year-old workhorse built for scientific exploration is a pretty big deal. operated by the woods hole oceanographic institution, the navy owned subhas seen things and done things that most only
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dream of. oday's the day. >> it is. >> how you feeling? >> i'm feeling good. and yourself? >> little nervous but very excited seeing what it's like down there. >> i got to be an alvinaut for the day. and when those lights go on a bold new world opened through these port holes. >> it looks like a world no one has ever seen. amazing coral. >> 4700 dives thousands of scientific papers, hundreds of new species discovered all attributed to this nimble submarine. certified by the navy in 1965, it wouldn't be long before alvin would get the call of duty becoming a cold war hero. the problem was known as the palomares incident.
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a 1966 mid air inclusion of a b-52 carrying four hydrogen bombs. one went missing, the search was on and alvin found it. since then alvin has been on the forefront of discovery. scientist cindy van dover was the first female pilot. >> you come across these tubes these white worms. >> alvin got a $41 million makeover that takes it to even greater depths and greater view of the undersea world. >> alvin used to have three view ports and now we've got five. significantly larger than the other ones were too. >> three inch thick titanium core allowing it to deep as deep
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as -- to dive as deep at four miles. the little submeans alvin in hearts and souls. felt like we were in a spaceship because the thing is floating based on buoyancy. i was just as excited on the surface of parse as i was seeing what's down there. so many of the scientists we talk to they say eventually people will be mining down there but the matter is how are we going to approach it, are we going to do it right? >> i'm concerned. this does concern me a little bit because we're talking about gold, silver, copper. my question is do we have to? do we have to exploit this and pull those things out? >> those metals you mention are all essential for electronics which we don't seem to be able to live without. there happens to be a lot of that in landfills, and why can't
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we recycle? >> manage the resources we already have rather than looking for next best option. being down there seeing the bottom of the ocean with my own eyes it was so impactful experience, it hurts my heart a little bit to think that there were people that would go down there and exploit it. >> it seems to but the brakes on a bitto so science can catch up. >> promise me the next time you voyage to the bottom of the ocean, you'll take me with you. >> you guys come along, we'll find some sea creatures and maybe some gold. that's it for my alvin adventure. >> go behind the scenes at find it e-us on
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