Thursday, August 29, 2013

"Where no rat has gone before"

The crew of the Hydronaut project, a Czech Republic program to build a two man undersea lab for cosmonaut training, posted this photo on the front page of the Hydronaut website.

The implications are clear. Czech rats have initiated a competing rodent ocean colonization program. But by cunning, ingenuity and strength of will, our American hamsters will win the race to conquer the seafloor, now and for all time. Can rat and hamster share the blue frontier? Or will they build opposing fleets of 1/10th scale submarines, and assault each others' colonies? I feel a Dreamworks film coming on. Or the world's most demented RTS.

(Serious note: I'm sure they only had this set up for a few minutes to take the picture. I do not recommend replicating their design at home. It is open bottomed so the interior is miserably humid. There is no dessicant litter to handle urine or humidity. The weights are on top, meaning it is unstable and would up-end if tipped, instantly flooding. I see no wires so there is most likely no heater. There is also no wheel. If you intend to make your own small animal habitat at home please follow my design for Hambase Alpha. It has benefited from several years of design refinement and is about as close to ideal as a device of this nature can get on a reasonable budget. Doing it the way they did for longer than a minute or two is unsafe and uncomfortable for the animal.)

Update: Hydronaut crew members have contacted me to reassure me that it was only a temporary setup for the purpose of taking the photo. They have also invited an exchange of ideas regarding larger scale projects. 

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