Oceana: A Proposal For A New Country

Final Project for
"Society, Technology, and Cultural Change"
Magda C. McHale, Instructor
State University of New York at Buffalo

Submitted by Patrick G. Salsbury
May 5th, 1992

Permission freely given to reproduce,
{In full, and fully credited, please.}
Please email with comments or questions.

The following is a proposal for the founding of a new country on planet earth. Tentative completion of Phase I (initial construction and formation of basic self-support systems for 5000 people) is set for the year 2025.

In this proposal, I will attempt to look at a variety of factors necessary for consideration in the development and construction of such a country. Some of the factors to be discussed will be location, construction materials and methods, power systems, economics and trade, food supply, education, and industry.

I. Location

This country will not be land-based. It will be a completely man-made structure, situated in the deep ocean. A free-floating city-state that can expand at will, and perhaps even move about, if desired. It will be starting off small, as a city, and growing as needs present themselves, and as population and industry grow.

The reasons for an ocean-based city are many, and the benefits of one are considerable:

-Given the current and foreseeable socio-political trends of the current nations of earth, attempting to situate a country on a current land mass (except perhaps Antarctica) will most likely be met with anything from public outcry to declarations of war.

-Constructing an entirely new city allows for the use of the most advanced materials and techniques of construction and also provides a "clean slate" to work with; there is no existing framework to be built upon, and thus no limitations or hindering factors to development.

-The city, (which we will call "Oceana," for the sake of argument), would be outside of the jurisdiction of any one country, and thus would answer only to International Law. This would be of possibly great benefit, not only to members of the city, but of the outside world as well. If the city is not subject to the laws of landed states, then its researchers and scientists would be able to do medical/drug research that may be impossible on land due to controlled substance laws. Likewise, other laws that have been enacted over time for various protectionist reasons (like laws which guarantee one company protection from competition in order to foster its economic growth) would not be in effect. Thus, medical and technological research and development could be carried out which may potentially benefit everyone on the planet.

-There would be no question about who "owns" the "land" of Oceana, as it is a construct. It would not be subject to frequent raids as the "homelands" of the Middle East often are.

-Protection from invasion. Oceana's primary function is that of a service industry, providing for the furthering of human knowledge. If it is perceived that Oceana "belongs" to the entire planet, and is working as an independent, large scale research and development center for improving global conditions, then any country attempting to take violent action towards it will be attacking the "resources" of the rest of the peoples of earth.

Initially, Oceana will be located in equatorial waters in the Pacific ocean. This will allow it to take advantage of the warm and fairly calm weather at the equator for use in power generation, food production, and economic development as a space port providing frequent space launches.

Equatorial location is desirable for a space port because earth's rotation at the equator provides the greatest amount of angular momentum to assist in launches, and is the most economical place on the planet (energy expenditure-wise) to launch from.

The warmer surface waters of the equator, in conjunction with the cold waters of the deep ocean, provides a prime area for Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) power generation.

OTEC is a process based upon the principles of a heat pump. A temperature differential is created (in this case, between the warm surface waters and the cold waters of the deep) and the natural tendency of heat to flow towards cold is used to drive a turbine and generate power. Thus, a clean, practically limitless source of energy is employed, with several added side benefits.

Since the OTEC plant will be bringing up cold water from the deep, this can be used to simulate naturally occurring Cold Water Upwellings which are the best sources of fishing in the oceans. The colder water is very rich in nutrients. Also, cold water is able to hold more oxygen than warm water. These two factors provide a prime situation for mariculture, or "fish farming" in holding lagoons built around the city.

An excellent example of a naturally occuring Cold Water Upwelling is the one just off the coast of San Francisco which gives it a mild climate and extremely rich marine life.

Another use of the cold waters of the deep is in the production of ammonia for industrial and commercial use. Ammonia is used in a variety of chemical processes, and is a primary ingredient in many agricultural fertilizers.

II. Economy

Oceana's socio-economic structure is based upon the ideas of The R.I.C.H. Economy, as put forth by Robert Anton Wilson in his "Schrodinger's Cat Trilogy" and "Illuminati Papers."

R.I.C.H. stands for "Rising Income through Cybernetic Homeostasis." Essentially, the economy is not based upon the idea of labor and jobs as end-goals, but upon the idea of employing technology to its fullest extent to free people up from common labor and allow them to devote their time to the development of education and mind power.

For the most part, R.I.C.H. employs technology to its greatest advantage, using labor-saving devices and robotics to replace human workers whenever and wherever possible. This is not viewed as a "bad thing" in the R.I.C.H. economy. Structured, as it is, towards the goal of improving human standards of living, the city and its people view labor as an "old tech" way of keeping people busy. Time which those people could probably better employ for themselves in other ways, pursuing their own interests.

The R.I.C.H. model recognizes that people have various interests, and that people tend to perform better when they are doing a job that they are genuinely interested in. Keeping this in mind, the workforce is allowed to self-sort so that people move towards the fields that they are interested in (and thus care enough about to do a good job) and hopefully, no one ends up in a position where they "HAVE" to do a job that they really hate.

When faced with this proposition (everyone getting to do what they want) many people instinctively rebel against the idea, posing questions such as "Well, who will you get to dig ditches? No one wants to do that!" Supposing, for a moment, that a floating city would HAVE ditches, the R.I.C.H. economy participant would reply to the above: "Machines. They can dig faster, don't get tired, don't take coffee-breaks, and don't get hurt." If this is countered with: "Well, who's going to BUILD the machines?" then the answer would most likely be: "People who like robotics and building machines, obviously."

As to the question of "But what will people do in order to EAT?" the R.I.C.H. model proposes a solution in the form of "Trade Aids."

Trade Aids are based upon the GNP of a country for the previous year. The citizenry of this city is viewed as a rather large partnership, and as such, each person profits when the whole profits. GNP is divided by the number of citizens, and each person is issued that value in Trade Aids each year. As GNP increases, so does the amount each person receives (provided population is constant.)

Essentially, Trade Aids act as money, but with a few limitations: Trade Aids do not bear interest and they decrease in value at the rate of 1% of face value per month. Thus, it doesn't benefit people to hoard them, as they will be completely worthless in 8 years and 4 months (100 months). However, if people use them, it furthers the economy, as more spending is being carried out.

Also, since each man, woman, and child receives the Aids, in addition to whatever salary they may hold, people will still be able to buy food and clothing, even if they are unemployed for a time, or engaged in schooling. (This may become more prevalent as jobs become scarcer due to increased mechanization, but as we've seen, when machines increase production due to their ability to work longer and quicker than people, GNP increases, which directly benefits the citizenry...thus, Rising Income through Cybernetic Homeostasis.)

III. Education

Oceana will be very education oriented, with a primary focus on furthering human knowledge and education, and dispensing same around the planet with improved designs and solutions to problems. It is hoped to be almost like a giant university, training people in new ways of thought, and sending them back out in the world to employ those thoughts and solve current (and upcoming) crises.

Population, as with most universities, would be mixed, although, at least at first, while Oceana is relatively small, there would most likely be some sort of selection process to determine who could become a resident. This would most likely be similar to applications to current universities and corporations, to select the people who can initially contribute the most to the growth of Oceana, and it's establishment as a productive world-member.

Since education is such a focal point of the operations of Oceana, it is hoped that most dealings of the people will be based upon mutual respect and intelligent thought. It is hoped that most functions that are currently carried out by governmental authorities and enforcement agencies will either be seen as trivial non-issues, or as second nature, and thus requiring no enforcement. In essence, a society of mature people who respect one another and think for themselves.

In the event that some law DOES need to be formed, it will, by default, expire after 10 years, unless it is reviewed and deemed to still be necessary. This is in view of the fact that society changes constantly, and is done in an effort to streamline "The System" as much as possible, to prevent the sort of legal morass that is prevalent in the United States in present times.

Education, as with most things in Oceana, will be geared towards the future, stressing application of mind power as well as the highest currently available technologies. Computers will be of great interest and use, and information-processing will be a major part of life and trade in Oceana.

IV. Industry

Oceana will have a multitude of possible industries, Some of these include: aqua/mari-culture ("fish-farming"), salt production, the harvesting of manganese nodules from the ocean floor, power generation (and sale of excess power to the mainlands), and ammonia production through the OTEC plant for sale as fertilizer (See Figure I). Also, Education, Research and Information dissemination, and the development of new technologies will be of high importance, as well as developing function as a Space Port.

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Figure I: An OTEC Ammonia Production Plant
(U.S. Department of Energy)

One sea-related resource that may be produced and employed by the people of Oceana is salt. There are many different salts dissolved in seawater, and these may be extracted easily by sequential evaporation, a process which takes advantage of the fact that different salts come out of solution at different times. Thus, by simply pumping seawater from one evaporation tank to another at certain points of evaporation, you are left with an almost pure bed of a certain salt. This can be continued through a multitude of tanks precipitating out one specific salt in each.

Bromine is derived from ocean salts, and is used widely in pharmacy. Other salts are used for food processing, chemicals, dyes, textiles, soap, and use in the tanning processes of the leather industry.

Manganese (Mn) is used in the airplane industry and also in the chemical industries. It can be found in small "nodules" which are scattered across the ocean floor. These nodules contain about 30% manganese oxide by weight, and thus are a much richer source than manganese ore taken from the ground. The nodules also contain other metals, and are viewed as a very promising source of metals for the future, since they need merely be "harvested" from the ocean floor, rather than dug up.

Oceana will remain a free port, without import tariffs, or other nationalist restrictions. This allows it to attract the most business, which is a necessity for what is effectively a small island nation. This also should serve to avoid problems arising from political squabbling between nations. Oceana should be viewed as a planetary resource and knowledge pool. It should remain neutral to politics, and work towards the goal of improving living standards for all humans.

As implied earlier, Oceana's location in international waters will allow it to conduct medical research with a range of pharmaceuticals which would be unavailable in any landed states. Given its research orientation, the medical scientists of Oceana will be able to study a wide variety of substances, and publish their findings such that other nations may be able to re-evaluate their positions. (Many pharmaceuticals in the US, for example, have been declared illegal to even do research on, and without further research, they can never be proved safe or harmful. Thus, a catch-22 develops.) Oceana will hopefully be able to provide an escape from such circular logic.

V. Food

Food production, aside from trade with landed states, will be accomplished primarily with the aforementioned aqua/mari-culture. This is easily done with the oxygen and nutrient-rich waters brought up from deep ocean by the OTEC plant.

Pens can be built around or even under the city to hold fish, shellfish, shrimp, kelp, seaweed, or a variety of nutrient- and protein-rich plankton such as spirulina. These can then be harvested and used for either trade, or food stores for the city itself.

Hydroponics will also be used for traditional land-grown foods, as this method provides the most output per unit area of any of the currently known agriculture techniques. This is an important consideration, since space will be at a premium. For example, using hydroponics, enough food can be grown to feed a person for a year in an area as small as 125 sqare feet. (Gabel, Ho-Ping: Food for Everyone)

VI. Power

Power generation may be carried out by a variety of methods. Among these are wave energy, solar power, possibly wind (although the equatorial region is generally calm) and with the aforementioned OTEC heat-exchange system. (See Figure II)

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Figure II: An OTEC Power Plant
(Lockheed Missiles and Space Company, Inc.)

There are many designs for systems to capture these types of energy. Some proposed, and some currently in use. Also, new techniques will be developed as time goes on.

One other system of particular note is that of Fuel Cells. These are a chemically based power source that derive electrical energy from chemical reactions, rather than using combustion to produce heat or drive pistons.

Essentially, a fuel cell is running a reverse hydrolysis reaction. It chemically combines hydrogen and oxygen, and produces electricity and water. If you are using pure hydrogen and oxygen as fuels, then your only waste-product is drinkable water. (Some fuel cells run with a hydrocarbon based fuel, like methane or propane, and this produces a small amount of pollution, but not nearly as much as combustion would. (See Chart I)

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Chart I - How a Fuel Cell Works
(Business Week - December 24, 1990 pp. 40-41)

Fuel cells can be produced in just about any size, from a large-scale plant that would be able to supply a city, to the 200 pound cells that power the space shuttle. They can be utilized in cars to provide electric power that doesn't rely on batteries, doesn't need recharging, and doesn't require a sunny day. (You just drive up to the "gas station" and pump in more hydrocarbon fuel, and you can even draw the oxygen straight out of the air if you use "scrubbers" to filter out the other gases.)

VII. Construction

Actual construction of Oceana will be done using non-standard methods of construction. Since the city must float, care will be taken to use lightweight, strong materials, and intelligent design, rather than brute force and lots of concrete. This principle is what architect/designer R. Buckminster Fuller called Ephemeralization.

By designing intelligently, one can supercede most of the problems in current construction methods. Using lightweight, high strength, non-corroding metal alloys along with plastics, ceramics, cermets (a VERY durable ceramic-metal matrix), and aerogels in the various structural members, structures can be produced which are not only more durable than most currently in use, but also lighter in weight, and cheaper in cost when produced in quantity.

If mass-production designs like geodesic domes are used, a large quantity of structural members may be produced for a relatively low price, and construction time is also greatly reduced, since each building doesn't become a uniquely hand-crafted structure.

The base strata of Oceana will need to be some sort of reinforced multiple-hull structure. Here again, smaller units, repeated many times will allow for ease of production, modular construction, and incremental growth of Oceana as population increases.

The main hulls of the city will most likely be formed by electrodeposition of the ocean's own minerals, thereby allowing for a structure that can be "grown" like a coral reef, that can strengthen itself over time as new material is added, and that can also "heal" any damages incurred over time, as coral reefs will slowly repair themselves.

The process of electrodeposition is carried out by immersing a piece of metal in water, and putting a very small electric current through it. This current begins to attract minerals that are dissolved in the water, and they being to collect on the metal. In a short period of time, layers of mineral deposits form on the metal. If a piece of screen or mesh of some sort is used instead of a simple wire, the electrodeposition process quickly fills in the gaps of the screen and you end up with a sheet of mineral material similar to shells and coral.

The electrodeposition process continues as long as current is put through the metal, so hulls could continue to grow thicker over the course of months or years if desired. Also, the process can be reversed if the current is reversed, and the minerals will slowly dissolve back into the ocean.

Thus, if wire-mesh hull shapes were suspended in the ocean waters with floats of some kind, and an electrical generator or some sort of solar array is attached to it to provide the low level current, hulls can be "grown" to provide the basic foundation of the city for a very low price.

I propose the use of circular hulls, roughly hemispheric, and roughly 50 to 100 meters in diameter as the basic hull unit. The initial hull units will be placed in a "closest packing" arrangement, starting with one at the center, surrounded by six, and then extending outwards in any of a variety of geometric patterns. In this way, hull units can be produced when needed, and suspended around the outer perimeter of Oceana and new portions can be grown. (See Figure III)

Once the gaps in the mesh of the hull units have filled in and become sufficiently electrodeposited to be structurally sound, residual water may be pumped out of the inverted dome and it will begin to float. Overlaying material can then be added to make sure the hull unit is firmly attached to the main body of Oceana and to fill in the spaces between hull units which are left open by the "closest packing" arrangement. Once this overlay material (perhaps it would even be sheets of electrodeposited material) is in place, new construction may be started to expand the city. In this way, Oceana should be able to grow and adapt very quickly to changing population and commercial requirements.


Figure III: Various Closest-Packing Arrangements of Circles

VIII. Financing

As with any major undertaking, the question of where the money will come from is always a consideration. In an undertaking of this magnitude, even more so. In this light, I would like to borrow an idea from Timothy Leary and George A. Koopman from their privatized space colony proposal for custom built H.O.M.E.S. (High Orbital Mini Earths).

In their proposal, Leary and Koopman propose the selling of "shares" in the H.O.M.E., (in our case, Oceana) for the price of $100,000 per share. This was calculated, in 1976, to be roughly the minimum cost an individual would pay for a home on earth, after taking bank financing and mortgages into consideration. In present day calculations, this may need to be adjusted.

At this price range, the Phase I target of 5000 individuals would produce a starting revenue of $500,000,000 to work with. As we've seen, the cost of producing electrodeposited hulls and structural members is very low, and the use of mass-producible parts and materials for other structures will help to keep their prices low. Also, as initial industries are set up, outside research monies and contracts will begin to provide revenues as well.

IX. Transport

Since Oceana will be a research institution, a good deal of experimentation and innovation will hopefully be taking place. It is hoped that materials, tools, and methods can be developed here that will serve as a model for the entire planet.

Due to the limited size, initially, of Oceana, there may be little need for mass transportation, other than perhaps small electric cars, or even, perhaps, golf cart-type vehicles. (Given that Oceana will be equatorially located, roofed and windowed transport will probably not be desired other than to provide shade and keep off rain.) Eventually, however, some sort of light electric monorail system will most likely be implemented to provide quick transportation around the city. This will avoid problems of traffic congestion, and associated pollution problems.

Other options are various fixed-track or "tube" cars that run between areas, and "moving sidewalks" as are seen in major airports.

X. The Future

As Oceana begins to grow, further openings may appear, and new people may join into the partnership. Hopefully, a good balance can be struck between population and economic growth, such that Trade Aid National Dividends don't decrease due to a sudden population boom.

After the completion of Phase I, when Oceana has stabilized, Phase II may begin, which will include growth of the city, and further functioning as a Space Port and off-world research and development. Work may begin on Space Migration and development of space cities and perhaps a lunar base. Asteroid mining for resources will probably be the most likely avenue for deep-space construction.

The commercialization of space for use in communications has already been seen as a very profitable venture. It is generally agreed that medical research in zero-gravity will produce new pharmaceuticals and methods unavailable on earth. Those who are first to actualize these goals stand to gain much, and a private collective of motivated people, such as the people of Oceana will hopefully be, should be able to accomplish these goals quicker than any nation presently on earth, by bypassing much of the red tape and system redundancy.

It is hoped that this proposal has provided a brief view of the type of integration necessary for successful planning of the future, and provided a starting point for further thought and investigation by the reader. The future is ours to do with what we want, and the time has come to gather together and work towards our goals.

In the words of Xerox PARC researcher Alan Kay:

"The best way to predict the future is to create it."

Bibliography and Further Reading:

The floating-cities discussion list has been created to further discussion and planning of the ideas put forth in this paper.

The fuel-cells discussion list has been created to further discussion and planning of some of the energy-related ideas put forth in this paper.

A Fuller Explanation: The Synergetic Geometry of R. Buckminster Fuller (c) 1987 by Amy C. Edmondson [Design theory, hull geometry]

Business Week - December 24, 1990 pp. 40-41 [Fuel Cells]

Earth, Energy, and Everyone (c) 1975 by Medard Gabel and the World Game Laboratory

Electrical Power System Training Manual (EPS2102) April 1988 - Mission Operations Directorate Training Division - Flight Training Branch NASA - Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center Houston, Texas [Fuel Cells]

Extropy: The Journal of Transhumanist Thought Published by Max More (more@extropy.org) Info and subscriptions available from: Extropy Institute, 13428 Maxella Avenue, #273, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292 (310) 398-0375, or exi-info@extropy.org [General philosophies]

H.O.M.E.S. A Real Estate Proposal (c) 1976 by Timothy Leary and George A. Koopman (Published in Neuropolitique - (c) 1988 by Timothy Leary) [Financing]

Ho-Ping: Food for Everyone (c) 1979 by Medard Gabel and the World Game Laboratory

Essentials of Oceanography (3rd Edition) (c) 1990 by Harold V. Thurman [Location, weather patterns, ocean resources]

Schrodinger's Cat Trilogy (c) 1979 by Robert Anton Wilson [The R.I.C.H. Economy]

Space Shuttle Spacecraft Systems (Bibliographic information unavailable - taken from photocopy) pp. 214-241 - Electrical Power System [Fuel Cells]

Synergetics: Explorations in the Geometry of Thinking (c) 1975 by R. Buckminster Fuller [Design theory, hull geometry]

Synergetics 2: Further Explorations in the Geometry of Thinking (c) 1979 by R. Buckminster Fuller [Design theory, hull geometry]

The Illuminati Papers (c) 1981 by Robert Anton Wilson [The R.I.C.H. Economy]

The New York Times - July 26, 1989 [Fuel Cells]

Special thanks to:

Peter Lange - League City, TX, for his help in obtaining NASA Fuel Cell information.

Gregory J. Sandelli - South Windsor, CT
Manager - Advanced Programs: International Fuel Cells, for his help in obtaining Fuel Cell information.

Patrick Salsbury

Last modified: Friday, 06-Aug-2004 03:23:11 PDT