Table of contents:
- Transport torpedo in the ice
- Nuclear war with the Arctic Ocean
- Ice regatta
- The Taming of the Bering Strait
It is no secret that today's Russia is actively engaged in the "Arctic" topic. The military presence is being strengthened, the nuclear icebreaker fleet is being exploited and expanded. The UN is negotiating to expand the boundaries of the continental shelf of the Russian Federation. If successful, this could result in our country expanding by more than a million kilometers.
But these are all boring pragmatic actions. Another thing is the imagination of people of the first half of the 20th century, fueled by optimism and belief in the role of science and technology in the future of mankind.
Transport torpedo in the ice
One of the cornerstones of the development of the Arctic has been and will be overland communications along the northern coast of Russia. This is greatly hampered by the cold climate, but the optimistic minds of the interwar period gave birth, as it seemed to them, quite a working proposal.
In 1938, an essay appeared in the journal Tekhnika - Molodoi, authored by engineers Teplitsyn and Khitsenko. They knew that during the construction of the Trans-Siberian Railway the sections where (albeit not very deep) permafrost was present were insidious. When its layer was damaged, the result of the temperature difference was severe shrinkage. Therefore, the authors of the project proposed not to touch the permafrost, but simply lay ice corridors right along it, covered with a layer of thermal insulation from the outside - so that they would not decide to melt.
Ice track Teplitsyn and Khitsenko
But the most interesting thing was inside. It was supposed to move through these tunnels with the help of peculiar cars in the form of giant torpedoes. A steam turbine with a capacity of 5 thousand "horses" with the help of a propeller would accelerate them to a fantastic speed of 500 kilometers per hour. And ice would be an ideal sliding surface. For the crossing of the Teplitsyn and Khitsenko rivers, it was proposed to lay "steel-and-ice" bridges in the image and likeness of reinforced concrete, only with ice.
But even such a bold idea was far from the craziest.
Nuclear war with the Arctic Ocean
As you know, the development of the Arctic can bring money even outside the framework of mining. One of the potential "gold veins" is the Northern Sea Route. Passing through the Arctic Ocean, it is difficult and thorny. This is due to the Arctic ice. But if they weren't …
First, our country would receive excellent ports: perhaps not from the status of "non-freezing", but freezing later. Secondly, we would get a lot of money by organizing an attractive transit route that would be 1.6 times shorter than the sea route across the Indian Ocean, even using the Suez Canal. And the delivery of goods from one end of the country to the other would be cheaper - after all, sea transport is always more profitable than land transport.
No, of course, it is possible to deliver cargo even in the presence of ice, but for this you have to either wait 2 years (until that which you did not have time to slip through), or use icebreakers that consume resources and cost money.
Therefore, ways, if not to level, then at least to weaken the influence of ice on sea transport in Russia have been looking for a long time. One of the most straightforward (and not even the craziest) thought was the idea of a member of the Geographical Society, Alexei Pekarsky. On June 10, 1946, he wrote a note to Stalin, where he proposed to radically solve the problem of ice - by bombing it with atomic weapons. Not all of it, of course, but having completed the "corridor" for the courts. By the way, Pekarsky proposed to lay such a route not only to the east, but also to the north, to the United States.
This is the icebreaker "Admiral Makarov", built in 1940.But you won't need it if you blow the northern ice with atomic bombs.
Stalin apparently appreciated the idea, and sent this note to the Arctic Institute. There they had nothing against the use of nuclear weapons for peaceful purposes. "… testing the operation of an atomic bomb on the ice of the polar seas is undoubtedly very desirable, and here a very significant effect can be expected," read the official response of Academician Vize. But then the main problem was indicated - in 1946 the USSR did not have an atomic bomb.
A few years later, they managed to create it. But the Cold War was in full swing, and it was necessary to produce nuclear weapons to achieve parity. And when it was enough, humanity was already keenly interested in the problems of radiation. Therefore, the ice of the Arctic Ocean escaped the dubious honor of getting acquainted with the massive atomic bombing.
The most wonderful idea was suggested, perhaps, by an ordinary resident of the Latvian SSR, Evgeniy Pastors. In 1966, he sent a truly schizophrenic project to the State Planning Committee. The bottom line was simple: chop the ice into huge pieces, attach them to powerful ships, and simply take it out to the warm southern seas. In just six months (at a speed of 5 cm / sec), he wanted to clear a rectangle of 200 × 3000 kilometers, which would be enough for the normal navigation of merchant ships without the involvement of icebreakers.
But that wasn't even the craziest thing. Pastors proposed to install grandiose canvas sails on the broken ice floes - a total of no less than a million square kilometers. All this, according to his plan, would save a lot of time and money. By the way, the author determined the volume of the latter at only 50 million rubles.
Pastors' project ended with the words: "… the received economic benefits would be enough to immediately introduce the communist system in our country."
The Taming of the Bering Strait
The Bering Strait is relatively small - only 86 kilometers. The idea to build a tunnel or bridge through it and connect Eurasia with North America was born in the 19th century. Most likely, this project will sooner or later be implemented.
But the inquisitiveness of the human mind went, of course, much further. For example, the railway engineer Voronin in the late 1920s wanted to improve the climate on the country's east coast. To do this, he suggested simply filling up the Bering Strait. Then the cold waters of the Arctic would not flow to the Far East, and it would become much warmer there. True, he was reasonably objected that then they would flow to Europe, and there the Soviet Union has much more populated cities, and the country will lose more than gain.
A more elegant idea was proposed in 1970 by the geographer-scientist Pyotr Borisov. It was believed that if someone "removed" the current from the surface of the ocean, then it would be immediately replaced by deeper waters, flowing in their own way. The “problem” of the Arctic was that the warm Gulf Stream at some stage was pushed aside by the cold current, which differed in a different degree of salinity, and, therefore, in a different density. And thus he became a "deeper" course.
The idea of a dam city was meaningless from a practical point of view, but reflected the romantic perception of science and technology inherent in the era.
Borisov proposed eliminating the upper cold waters, after which they would be replaced by the warm Gulf Stream. Which would immediately lead to a dramatic improvement in the climate in the Arctic.
But how can the upstream be carefully removed from the Arctic? Borisov proposed to build a dam across the Bering Strait. It would be 80 times longer than the Sayano-Shushenskaya hydroelectric power station, which was built for almost 40 years - from 1963 to 2000. But the most interesting thing was supposed to be put inside. These would be nuclear-powered pumps pumping water from the Chukchi Sea to Beringovo - 140 thousand cubic kilometers. Or minus 20 meters to the level of the Chukchi Sea per year. The author of the project calculated that lifting the Gulf Stream into the Arctic would take no more than 6 years for such a super dam to operate.
The idea, of course, was hacked to death, and not only because of the cosmic cost: the behavior of deep currents was far from fully studied. And scientists were prudently afraid of all sorts of unintended consequences.
However, even stranger proposals were born in the 70s. So, the architect Kazimir Lucesky, apparently, was haunted by the glory of Le Corbusier. Therefore, he, taking as a basis the idea of a dam across the Bering Strait, proposed to improve it. For example, by building a city on a dam - with escalators, a motorway, houses and terraces for admiring the sea. The thought, to some extent, is even stranger than the dam itself. As if there is absolutely no free land around. And also, in order to avoid grandiose traffic jams in the future, it would be better to use every square centimeter of such a dam for transportation rather than residential needs.
However, who knows? Perhaps in 50-100 years, people, using, say, growing computing power, will create a detailed model of currents, collect data, and study the behavior of the Arctic so well that they can indeed change the climate without much fear. And then there will be beaches for sunbathers on the Gulf of Ob.