In 1870, Jules Verne brought the submarine into the public sphere with his novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. Writing about Verne, Captain Brayton Harris, USN, notes that the author knew his stuff: “Verne’s research was impeccable: he even computed the compressibility of seawater – “0” for most purposes – as .0000436 for each 32-feet of depth.”
(As it turns out, the submarine wasn’t Verne’s only scientific prophesy).
Almost three hundred years before Verne’s description, English innkeeper William Bourne and amateur science aficionado offered an early explanation of the principal of how to make a ship go underwater:
“It is possible to make a Ship or Boate that may goe under the water unto the bottome, and so to come up again at your pleasure. [If] Any magnitude of body that is in the water . . . having alwaies but one weight, may be made bigger or lesser, then it Shall swimme when you would, and sinke when you list . . . .”
Today, submarines perform both covert and over operations, including surveillance, communication, protection, and attack of land targets. 2013 marked the first year women have been allowed to serve on attack submarines.
Would you consider spending five years of your life on one?
(Better have a trusty shirt).