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A teenager who builds a working one-person submarine – while keeping up with his homework

teen subHis name is Justin Beckerman, aged 18, and he’s just built himself a one-person submarine for less than $2,000.  He assembled it in his spare time using a fair amount of scavenged odds and ends.  His sub has ballast tanks, and can submerge with its pilot to a depth of 30 feet, remain submerged for up to 2 hours, and travel underwater at up to one and a half miles an hour.  He’s been making things like this since he was 2, his mother tells us, and his own website shows a remarkable collection of the things he’s built.  His submarine, named Nautilus, has a regulator and pressure gauges from a defunct soda siphon, and its batteries are recycled from a child’s toy.  He intends to use it to explore the bed of his local lake.

This is an excellent can-do story from a world in which if you want to do something you go ahead and tackle it.  It’s the same world inhabited by Jack Andraka, the teenager who won the youth achievement Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award for inventing a faster, cheaper way of detecting pancreatic cancer much earlier.  I love this world and wished more people lived in it.  What I like about it is the way in which its inhabitants see difficulties and barriers only as problems to be overcome.  If you want to do something you systematically set about the steps and stages required to achieve it, and you don’t listen to people who tell you it can’t be done.  And sometimes you achieve something remarkable.


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