Testing is a recurring theme of the blog, and this is an interesting example of testing in extremis. Check out FLIP, the “Floating Instrument Platform”, which can change from a horizontal to a vertical orientation. The specially designed ship apparently enables research into acoustic measurementsm and “air-sea interactions”, as well as meteorology and oceanography. A bit like Noah’s Ark, there’s two of everything, for both horizontal and vertical orientation – two sinks, for example, and two sets of seating. Quite a feat of engineering and design when you think about it. And it’s just a bit more than fifty years old (just like Electronics Weekly!) It’s actually part of the Marine Physical Laboratory (MPL), in San Diego, a research unit of the University of California, San Diego. They write:
The Floating Instrument Platform, FLIP, is a 355 foot long manned spar buoy designed as a stable research platform for oceanographic research. FLIP is towed to its operating area in the horizontal position and through ballast changes is “flipped” to the vertical position to become a stable spar buoy with a draft of 300 feet. FLIP is owned by the US Navy and was conceived and developed by the Marine Physical Laboratory (MPL), Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego. Built originally to measure effects of the environment on long range sound propagation for the US Navy’s SUBROC program, FLIP has been used principally for acoustics research since then.
You’ve got to watch the video on the BBC Science/Environment website. Thanks to Dave B. for highlighting this one.