Aquanautic Engineering on the Astronautic Engineering Model: Implications for Our Gulf Oil Spill Experience

If you cannot plan ahead, you cannot go there!

WHO AND WHERE WERE THE OVERSEERS?

I remember clearly the first space “travel” shots. One of the biggest U.S. 4th of July fireworks rockets ever built with a man ( Alan Shepard, Jr.) riding on the point. I used those astronautical examples in class as an object lesson for “stage fright” talks. I was teaching preparation for public speaking, which is also preparation for anything else that must be performed perfectly.

“Are the astronauts afraid in being shot into space?” That was a question the reporters always asked and all the students really wondered about. The astronauts’ answers were always the same, whoever was asked and whenever anyone of them was asked.

They answered with words to this effect:
Every possible event that would endanger the successful outcome of our mission has been anticipated, and we can say that with great confidence. Every possible solution to every possible danger has been anticipated. We can say that with great confidence. We have practiced coping strategies for every anticipated thing that can go dangerously wrong. Thus, we have primary systems of response to anticipated dangers that we have practiced until they are second nature, which is a firmly inculcated habit, repeatable without question of reliability and with perfect confidence.

We have secondary systems of response to anticipated dangers that we have practiced until they are second nature, which is a firmly inculcated habit, repeatable without question of reliability and with perfect confidence.

We have tertiary backup systems of response to anticipated dangers that we have practiced until they are second nature, which is a firmly inculcated habit, repeatable without question of reliability and with perfect confidence. Several tiers of systems backing up systems backing up systems. We all should be so anticipatory and confident on our Sunday drive!

There was no question of fear. There was only the exhilaration, the feeling of lively and cheerful joy of the prospect and of the trip. So, too, with the public speaker, whose hard work becomes the thrill of filling other people’s lives with the vision the speaker hopes to socialize. The tension is positive, compelling, enhancing, enabling, thrilling, fulfilling.

Thus did I prepare students to face the class with confidence if they had put their message together well and practiced it without any need for reading it, a truly extemporaneous speaking experience, no reading, no memorization of exact words, just memorization of the ideas and the order. The words were left to a sense of spontaniety which is the essence of extemporaneous speaking.

The Gulf Oil Spill and the Astronautics Model of Assurance Engineering Applied to Aquanautic Engineering

Deep Space—Deep Water

Great Heights=Great Depths: You Are Out of Your Element! Prepare to Die!

Just don’t take others with you. In the case of the unprepared speaker, that’s just what is going to happen. In the case of the Gulf oil spill, that is just what is happening now; all forms of life are perishing, including the whole ecosystem of flora and fauna and those who have thrived in it.

All of the above is relevant to our present experience with what has been called the worst natural disaster we have had in the history of the U.S. The technology we see now being applied should have been anticipated, practiced and proven effective, safe and easily accomplished. We are, however, footing the bill for the mistakes of the engineers improvising in on-the-job training. Such drilling in deep water is very like riding into deep space, except that deep space is deemed to be harder to prepare for than for deep water. Huge mistake. At great expense to the management.

It appears to me that we are merely receiving on-the-job-training, with ad hoc solutions. You cannot go there if you cannot plan ahead. The fail-safe system can be engineered, or it’s no-go.

The drillers in the Gulf of Mexico should have experienced the apprehension of what they were about to do, that would have made them go through the process of preparing better. Deep space and deep water should have equal respect. It did not happen. Deep water taken too lightly. Astronautical preparation for space travel should have been the proven model for aquanautical endeavors.

I believe that great works of art — such as a successful journey into space and return — are not just “tossed off” through some unexplainable and wondrous genius, but that such works require intensive calculation and the product is the proof.

Grade in “Basic Engineering 101: The Freshman Course” : F [Repeat the course.]

I have wondered if eventually there could have been an earthquake that would have flooded the Gulf all at once with the whole contents of that pocket of oil. There are probably many such resevoirs of oil under certain parts of the oceans, I feel reasonably certain. An intuition that future disasters are probable from natural events. It’s the fate of Earthlings.

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