What experiments can be performed in isolation?
September 26, 2007 5:31 PM   Subscribe

What are some experiments I can perform while at sea?

I work offshore. Things can get pretty boring out there. Last summer, some friends and I:

1. Tried to find the circumference of the earth
2. Guessed the weight of a buffalo using the methods in The Wisdom of Crowds
3. Tried to find the distance from the earth to the moon.

What are other things like this we can do?
posted by atchafalaya to Science & Nature (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
learn how to use an astrolabe?
posted by thinkingwoman at 5:42 PM on September 26, 2007

bring some books?
posted by Salvatorparadise at 6:07 PM on September 26, 2007

I tried the sextant, but a cheap plastic one. Still thinking about it. Books, magazines, DVD's and the internet are usually all available out there, but still get boring after a while.
posted by atchafalaya at 6:09 PM on September 26, 2007

See what color lures tend to catch which kind of fish?

See who can launch a golf ball the farthest using simple machines made from spare parts.

Do Cockeyed experiments.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 6:45 PM on September 26, 2007

Get a knot book. I know as a tender you would know most of the basic knots, but some of my old coworkers and I spend about a year practicing knots in our boring offshore jobs. You shouldn't have a shortage of rope.
posted by Yorrick at 7:55 PM on September 26, 2007

Do you have access ot the galley? I learned to cook on boats out of sheer boredom.

That and how to play Sweet Child of Mine on the ukelele!
posted by fshgrl at 8:11 PM on September 26, 2007

Yeah man, bring some bongos, a guitar or two and a harmonica. Start a band, when you get famous it'll be a great story.
posted by borkingchikapa at 9:52 PM on September 26, 2007

If you have flying room and regular wind, 2 and 4 line stunt kites can be fascinating.
posted by paulsc at 10:38 PM on September 26, 2007

Pick up an engaging hobby, like drawing or robotics? Robotics could be anything from lego mindstorms to soldering iron + steppers from an old printer, to a tabletop cnc router or 3D printer. If your are feeling hardcore, you could try to make an RC submersible.

Also, kite photography.
posted by sebastienbailard at 11:00 PM on September 26, 2007

More astronomy experiments:
  • A simple celestial sphere
  • Observing the night sky
  • Photographing the night sky
  • Observing the motion of the Sun
  • Model of the celestial sphere
  • Planetary paths
  • Model of planetary path
  • Planetarium model
  • Eclipses
  • Precession of the equinoxes
  • The Sun’s luminosity

posted by pracowity at 3:34 AM on September 27, 2007

* Generate electricity from the waves.
* Play with solar cells.
* What fabrics work best to shield from the sun and deflect rain?
* Desalinate sea water, make a radio, or any other McGuyver-ish things you can think of, using on what's already available out there.
* Figure out this whole alternative energy thing.
* Count how much plastic and such floats by. Estimate the area you're covering, and extrapolate that to estimate how much of the stuff is out there in the oceans.
* Now figure out an easy way to get it out of there.
* Learn to speak dolphin.
* Choose a language with your friends and speak only that to each other, when off duty of course.
* Measure the depth to the ocean floor using sonar, string, and smoots (or an available alternative).
posted by jwells at 5:41 AM on September 27, 2007

Seconding Yorrick -- with the caveat that you should get Ashley's book. It was written approximately forever ago, and it's got every damn thing in it.

Have knot races -- cut three-foot lengths of 3/4 inch rope enough so that everyone gets ten strands. See who can make ten of a certain kind of knot the fastest.

In that vein...take up scrimshaw? Or knitting!
posted by kalimac at 7:04 AM on September 27, 2007

Learn how to identify floating ambergris (depending what waters you're in). Then if you find some you can sell it for big cash later.

May be slightly illegal in the US. OK, totaly illegal. But, hey -- finders keepers!
posted by contessa at 8:37 AM on September 27, 2007

one thing that went over well on the sub, was to have people team up and make cars out of junk. Then race them Pinewood Derby style on a specified date. Of course, some forethought had to be put in to the rules, to make the competition somewhat even, but it was still fun.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 11:30 AM on September 27, 2007

Well, as a diver you know how red disappears before blue and green as you go deeper?

When on deck, you can measure how different wavelengths of color attenuate with depth by throwing different color M&Ms or Skittles into the water and timing how long it takes for each color to disappear. (Obviously if you're moving, you can't do this.)
posted by nekton at 4:49 PM on October 2, 2007

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