March 2015

In almost every technical case, or operational problem we get involved in we find that it first takes the construction of a chronological narrative to get an idea as to where the shoe sticks.

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In 1522 a sailing vessel, named the Victoria, arrived in Spain and thereby completed the first circumnavigation of Earth using only sustainable power (wind). This voyage is generally called Magellan’s voyage, but the person who completed the voyage in command was Juan Sebastian Elcano.

 

Since that time, humans have circumnavigated Earth in any number of novel fashions including rockets, aircraft, and submarines, but with the exception of a balloon circumnavigation (Picard and Jones, 19 days, 1999), which is more akin to drifting with the wind rather than navigating, all those novel methods used fossil or external fuels in some fashion.

 

By water we have copied the Magellan feat any number of times using solar cells or much faster sailboats, and greatly improved on the circumnavigation time. The record for a sailing circumnavigation is 45 days and the record for a solar waterborne circumnavigation is 584 days. Not bad, noting that the original voyage took 4 years but these feats are really improvements on a method rather than a novel approach.

 

Only this year, almost 500 years later, are humans attempting to take a new approach.

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