Monday, June 28, 2010

The "Diving Bell"

Welcome to Dive into History: The History of Diving Museum Collections Blog! This is our newest medium to share diving history. This section is devoted to displaying, describing and offering history about the History of Diving Museum's collection. Check in with us weekly, as we will offer a new bit of history and pictorials.

The month of June at the museum was all about diving bells...

One of the well-known, but easily overlooked wonders of applied science is the diving bell. The diving bell is an airtight chamber that is suspended underwater as a workstation for a single or multiple divers; it will refresh divers with air without having to come to the surface, allowing a diver to remain underwater for extended periods of time. The apparatus is named for its resemblance to a bell, in that it is narrow at the top and open at the bottom.

The diving bell allowed for the exploration of our depths longer than any other diving apparatus known to man. Dr. Joe Bauer, co-founder of the History of Diving Museum, addressed the significance of the diving bell to the field of diving by saying, "Over the millennia, the diving bell has been the most important concept and invention in diving."

Dr. Bauer's interpretation is overwhelmingly accurate and true; in fact, the history of the diving bell spans back to the 4th Century B.C.E., during the time of Greek Philosopher, Aristotle and Macedonian King, Alexander the Great; both of whom were bell divers. However, the diving bell wouldn't reach its climatic point until the 17th century C.E. when Dr. Edmund Halley improved the design.

Dr. Halley, best known for the discovery of the comet that bears his name, added an air replenishing system to overcome the affects of atmospheric pressure. He also recorded his findings in the most well-read scientific compilation in existence, the Philosophical Transactions.

However, his most significant contribution to the history of diving came when he built the first-known diving helmet that was the precursor to all others. The History of Diving Museum displays this information in more fanciful detail, to include a replica of Halley's diving bell and helmet.