09 September 2005

Italians dive in to 10-day underwater living experiment

Two Italian scuba divers Wednesday began an unprecedented scientific experiment aimed at determining the effects of living underwater for a prolonged period.

Stefania Mensa, 29, and Stefano Barbaresi, 37, dived off the island of Ponza and moved into their new home at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea at around 3 p.m. local time. The two "aquanauts" - as they have been calling themselves - will not emerge until Sep 17.

"Stefania and Stefano couldn't wait to dive in and everything went according to plan," a spokesperson for the Abissi Project in charge of the operation told reporters.

The 500,000 euro ($621,000) experiment involves constant monitoring of the two scuba divers via television cameras. Experts want to find out how the skin, heart and lungs react to such a prolonged period underwater.

They will live on a platform anchored to the seabed at a depth of about seven metres. Their wall-less "apartment" is fitted with a table, sofa and gym equipment to keep them fit and busy. Because of the effects of weightlessness, their beds have been fitted with an overhead frame, preventing them from floating away in their sleep.

The aquanauts will receive oxygen from a tube and communicate with each other via microphones in their masks. An empty steel bell allows them to eat, take care of their bodily needs and undergo regular checkups by doctors.

Source: news.webindia123.com


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