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Would you live in a floating city in the sky? (with English subtitles) | Tomás Saraceno

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(Full English subtitles are available for this talk — click the CC button in the bottom right of your screen to turn subtitles on.)

In a mind-bending talk that blurs the line between science and art, Tomás Saraceno exhibits a series of air-inspired sculptures and installations designed to usher in a new era of sustainability, the "Aerocene." From giant, cloud-like playgrounds suspended 22 meters in the air to a balloon sculpture that travels the world without burning a single drop of fossil fuel, Saraceno's work invites us to explore the bounds of our fragile human and terrestrial ecosystems. (In Spanish with English subtitles.)

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46 Comments on Would you live in a floating city in the sky? (with English subtitles) | Tomás Saraceno

  1. Yes, call it Columbia.

  2. bioshock infinite – there i said it

  3. Ever since I was a kid I’ve always wanted to live in a floating vessel.

  4. Certified Finest // 20th September 2017 at 4:41 pm // Reply

    Who believes in aliens?

    • Abyssinia Empire // 20th September 2017 at 6:04 pm // Reply

      RipperRoo I know. It would be nice to find what everyone hopes to be micro-bacterial life with a differing gene structure compared to DNA.

      But, hypothetically speaking, wouldn’t it not also make sense to explore the oceans as much as space considering the possibility that Earths water did not originate on Earth?

    • Abyssinia Empire Yes. Exploring the oceans is critical.

    • Abyssinia Empire // 20th September 2017 at 6:07 pm // Reply

      RipperRoo Scary and weird was not I meant. I was going more on the basis of practicality when it would come to defining what one believes to be alien. Something being more along the line of being unique.

      Edit: like tardigrades, but I think your argument is more sound.

    • beliefless dogmasless // 20th September 2017 at 8:01 pm // Reply

      you but no one cares

    • The Saucy Goblin Shark // 21st September 2017 at 7:19 am // Reply

      Im not saying USMs exist but… USMs exist..
      (Unidentified swimming mexicans)

  5. We already do. It’s called EARTH.

    • InMaTeofDeath That depends on if your fuzzy is bigger than your slight.

    • +mhtinla Please do elaborate I’m eager to hear exactly what you mean, plus I’ve yet to hear your own defined boundary and how you’ve come to that conclusion as well as how it fits into your view of this. Really you haven’t explained much of how your view works only what it is. Care to fix that?

    • InMaTeofDeath Don’t be too serious. It’s one of the meaningless comments I make everyday. But then again, the boundary between meaningful and meaningless is fuzzy.

    • beliefless dogmasless // 20th September 2017 at 8:03 pm // Reply

      mhtinla :
      He he “Tell me where one starts and the other ends.”
      Good one, the dreamers won’t get that one, always preferring dreaming as the reality. Too bad your next life, you will be eaten by worms.

    • Vorname Nachname // 21st September 2017 at 4:42 pm // Reply

      Isn’t the earth basically surrounded with air. Just don’t think of the atmosphere connected to the earth, now you’ve got the atmosphere/air/sky with a little thing made of earth flying / *floating* in it.

  6. the problem with a city like this is that it is too fragile, it would require alot of trust within the community who lives there

    • William Wyatt Earnshaw // 20th September 2017 at 7:57 pm // Reply

      The problem with a city like this is that we probably don’t have a material strong enough to make balloons large enough to carry such weight. If he imagines a spiderweb of smaller balloons hooked together it would take a massive amount of space, miles long just to hold their weight of a single family, their stuff, and what is needed to keep them alive. You could go vertically, have it stacked so distances wouldn’t be so bad, but what happens at night? What about when it stays overcast for a whole day, or a storm comes. There are so many things wrong with this idea.

    • i was saying hypothetically if it were possible*

  7. Columbia in BioShock Infinite. We just need to invent Lutece particles.

    • I’d say “and go back to antebellum race relations,” but it feels like we’ve already rewound that far.

      Vigors’d be cool though.

  8. What kind of weed are they handing out over at these Ted conferences? Might have to go some day to check it out

  9. This is quite a cool idea. Unfortunately, the buoyant force generated is small and unscalable, and depending on solar energy is a huge limiting factor.
    I do like how this is a new tool for artists to make some new interesting art.

    • He covered scalability in the video.
      And getting sun ain’t a problem these days.

    • Since the amount of air enclosed increases in proportion to r^3 but the cross-section increases in proportion to r^2, bigger structures will generate less lift in proportion to their mass, hence it is unscalable (in addition to the small lift generated)
      And the sun issue is a great limiting factor. In order for the structure to be unaffected by weather, you’d require it to stay constantly above the troposphere where air density is about 13% the density at surface level, which would reduce lift substantially. Additionally, the structure can only generate lift during daytime and at night will fall down. Therefore you’d have to supply a huge amount of energy to keep it afloat at night.
      This is a cool idea, but this method will not make a floating city a reality.

  10. William Wyatt Earnshaw // 20th September 2017 at 7:51 pm // Reply

    I don’t see this going anywhere. I am still a little confused as to where the speaker sees this going. You saw how big of a balloon they needed to lift a single person in a climate perfectly suited for their purposes. Is this meant to replace air travel? Instead of paying a lot of money to ride a plane for a couple hours you pay a tiny bit of money to rent a balloon that you are then stuck attached to for nearly an entire day hoping our notoriously inaccurate weather predictions will be correct for the duration of your journey?
    As for people living on such a thing… Water is heavy, and people like their stuff. People like to bathe regularly, use modern toilets, eat regularly. It would require a very large balloon apparatus to lift the weight of the things needed to provide for even a single human for a temporary amount of time. I don’t know what Tomas thinks will come of this, but if his aspirations are much bigger than an odd attraction I think his head is a bit too much in the clouds.

    • William Wyatt Earnshaw you are correct sir. The speaker is delusional. Not a serious engineer

    • Stranger Happened // 21st September 2017 at 8:57 pm // Reply

      The guy is not an engineer, he is an artist. Hence so much feel-good rhetorics about the dreams, and not much of practicality.

    • Stranger Happened // 21st September 2017 at 9:22 pm // Reply

      +injafruitchilled I doubt this is possible since aerospace engineers have software that is capable to calculate the physics of a giant bubble with black floor in atmosphere under the sun for decades already. If someone would solve the full system of equations to prove that it is theoretically possible, it would be in the news. Not to say that it would make this project possible as people would not be able to live or even travel in such bubbles as it would be too hot inside, especially near the black floor, and especially due to the lens effect that the bubble’s surface will invoke.
      A more “realistic” variant would be just having a giant black balloon that would lift. 2000 litres of hot air can lift 1 kg of net weight (gross weight would include the balloon itself, so we do not care for that). For a “car” for 20 people that would prove the means for a long multi-day travel would have the weight like 30 000 kg, including people. This would mean that for this thing to fly it would require a balloon with 60 000 000 litres = 60 000 cubic metres = a sphere with diameter of 50 metres = 15 story-building, or maybe even more.

    • That’s why they are still working on it

  11. Congratulations for reinventing hot air balloons.

  12. The images were beautiful to look at but the talk was all a bunch of hot air. It was very disjointed and vague. The usage in art was interesting but it became cringe worthy when he started talking about Berlin to Vancouver air travel and making grandiose claims about how this will lead to a paradigm shift, not just in air travel but on a geological time scale (Anthropocene to Aerocene)! No discussion of the confounding variables that will need to be considered, no mention of the volatility in weather predictions, no mention in the unreliability of the energy source (ironically he jokes about the Vancouver weather!), no mention of the economics of human choice (float in the air for 2 days in a giant balloon guided by nature vs a couple of hours in a plane). Criticizing this idea is not being closed minded, it is merely being skeptical from the evidence that was presented to support this vision. And it was weak and unsubstantiated. Now if you come back with more coherent directives of what you actually want to achieve with this and how it will look, then I am willing to re-evaluate based on the evidence presented. As it stands, it was mostly a bunch of fluff words, let’s hold hands, no borders and live in a community in a balloon because climate change.

    • Krypt Sanies the idea was a combo of ideas. 1- using air temp difference to trigger movement 2- using natural air currents for transportation 3- creating living spaces in the sky 4- thinking more about the air and its integration with life

  13. Cool idea. Zero practicality

  14. This talk was a combo of ideas, which can be applied separately or together. 1- using air temp difference to trigger movement 2- using natural air currents for transportation 3- creating living spaces in the sky 4- thinking more about the air and its integration with life

  15. This is what’s called magical thinking. It was like listening to a presentation by a very articulate 5 year old. Delusional. Cool art though. Forget about it ever becoming housing or serious transportation.

  16. Too good to be true

  17. trump border wall need to be taller for this.

  18. Hmm but what about a city at the bottom of the ocean?

  19. Stranger Happened // 21st September 2017 at 8:53 pm // Reply

    *It is great to hear a presentation in another language,* but the idea of flying on sun-heated balloons will never work since there are too many cases when the atmosphere is cloudy for many days and even weeks in the row, so such balloon will not be able to raise.

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