My son is a reddit user and brought to my attention that some of you were interested in my project. I'm fairly busy today and won't be able to dedicate a whole lot of time to answering every single question, but I'll do my best time permitting.

You can view the Vice feature here:

And this is the website for my project:

Comments: 964 • Responses: 50  • Date: 

Codaflow313 karma

Welcome to Reddit dad! Have fun :-)

EDIT: Just spoke with pops. He'll be back on when he wakes up tomorrow to finish up the questions, and he says thank you once again. And something about this site being addictive.

DChamberland245 karma

My dear REDDIT friends - I would love nothing more than to spend the rest of the day and night here doing this - but - other responsibilities are calling me away and I won't be near a keyboard until tomorrow. This is been SO AWESOME! Thank each of you for your kind and intelligent attention and all the fantastic questions. I also appreciate the frank discussion on the website and will try and work on that. I will also (I PROMISE) get to all of the legit and even no-so-legit questions posted here tomorrow morning first thing. But again - it has been just wonderful and I appreciate all of you. AND i hope to be back again!

Have a great adventure today and everyday!

Dennis Chamberland

Thanks Chris! You are awesome son!

Sharkoffs220 karma

I think the question that everyone is really itching to ask is...

Where do I sign up?

DChamberland215 karma

ohnostereo201 karma

Oh. My. God. Not only can you actually sign up but the organization you join is called "The League". Good God man. You've just made every nerds wet dream come true.

DChamberland212 karma

Who do you think picked the name to begin with? SUPER NERD. Hell boy, I was wearing NERD t-shirts before anyone on the planet wven knew what a NERD was! I have pictures....

tejmin37 karma

I have pictures....

And a great sense of humor. Well played sir.

DChamberland48 karma

The really sad part of that comment - is that I REALLY DO!

planetidiot29 karma


DChamberland107 karma

Web programmers have their own sealed off modules. We can't afford for them to infect the 'normal' people. We have general memberships and crew positions available for the 2012 mission and are accepting applications for the permanent colony offshore. Its all on the website.

DChamberland170 karma

Got to break for a period of time here. I'll be back!

Trevj167 karma

As a kid I put on floppy green sock and pretended to be a piece of kelp floating in the ocean, does this qualify me for involvement in your project?

DChamberland160 karma

Absolutely. I can't actually think of a better or more qualified resume.

pickleinspector113 karma

Obligatory question--have you played Bioshock?

DChamberland84 karma

No I have not. I love to watch people (my 5 sons) playing games but I have no time for them.

Brontos137 karma

In a nutshell - Undersea utopia gone wrong.

DChamberland110 karma

Sounds very interesting.

All_Your_Base78 karma

Outside of the money and man-power required for its construction, what supplies/materials/processes are preventing the project from being self-sustaining?

DChamberland158 karma

I hear this ALL THE TIME. We have no intention of making it "self sustaining" and WHY would we? We are not on Mars - we are 15 miles east of the Florida coast. Not a single city in the US is "self sustaining" and why would they ever want to be? If you want to drive to Boca Raton for a bagel - then by all means....

ThatsItGuysShowsOver62 karma

We are not on Mars - we are 15 miles east of the Florida coast.


On other thoughts, have you thought about moving to Mars sometime sooner? Can you take me along?

DChamberland113 karma

Mars is way too freaking COLD. It snows carbon dioxide there in their one earth year winters. No thanks.

Dynamite_Noir17 karma

How would plants react to that once the "snow" melts?

[deleted]71 karma

Frozen CO2 is -80°C. What plants?

DChamberland42 karma

Don't let the cold inside - that's my rule...

All_Your_Base37 karma

My apologies. I have not yet viewed the material and was asking based on an incorrect, assumptive premise.

When I heard "undersea colony," then I assumed the isolation associated with "colony." That said, the economics would not be the same. Imports would incur considerably more "transportation costs."

15 miles? International waters. Would its presence create political issues?

DChamberland91 karma

A freaking Big Mac creates political problems these days, are you kidding? 15 miles is well inside the 200 mile US zone. We WANT to be a US Florida community!

cunnl0114 karma

I didn't see a reference to it on the site but will you apply for a Free Trade Zone status? I believe there are few in Florida already and it helps considerably with issues related to tariffs

DChamberland37 karma

No. We are NO DIFFERENT than any other Florida community.

Codaflow69 karma

Dad, tell everyone about how the VICE special came about and how awesome Nightline is.

DChamberland65 karma

Nightline are our friends and future documentary producers - I'm sure that's what you meant. They treated them like royalty, as you know.

VICE found us and produced our lates docimentary that appeared on CNN yesterday:

They are truly a set of lean/mean/creative geniuses there. CNN is now recognizing their talents at long last!

cheetahlip53 karma

Nasa Bioengineer....I would love to see that on my business card

DChamberland102 karma

Well - you can! Study - study - study!

cheetahlip62 karma

I could study day and night from here to eternity and i couldn't bioengineer a peanut butter and jelly sandwhich......bravo for posting!

DChamberland116 karma

You severely undersetimate yourself my friend. You CAN do this!!! I wish I could have lunch with you someday and talk to you about your bright future - because YO DO HAVE ONE!

cheetahlip53 karma

If I can have lunch with you in the biodome I am there....I will make the PBJ's!!! :)

DChamberland65 karma

I can't wait. Let's schedule it.

iggyma0444 karma

if the nasa bioengineer thing doesn't work out it looks like you have a talent for inspirational speaking as well. i just went and made myself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich

DChamberland30 karma

Can you mail me one? I REALLY sounds good right now.

hascat48 karma

Is Doctor Pell single?

DChamberland56 karma

Yes. What an awesome woman she is!

NinjaHighfive47 karma

DChamberland discovers reddit. Two weeks later we see him on here. He decided to scrap project to spend more time on reddit.

DChamberland36 karma

LOL - SO TRUEEEEE - this site is incredible ... and dangerous..... ROTFL

sarevok937 karma

Alright, since this is an AMA, I have a few questions to ask you (in regards to your profession. I should preface by saying that I am honestly curious, and if any of this comes off making me sound like a prick, I apologize:

  1. You keep mentioning sustainable communities, however you focus on these units as being free-standing units (or so it seems.) that can house 1-4 people. Isn't a community about linking together multiple families / people? I know that this is your vision, but wouldn't allowing these habitats to be linked to other habitats and allowing a 'common area' do more to promote it?

  2. In reference to staying underwater for extended durations: You mentioned that you have a phone, electricity, etc. However you didn't mention whether or not you had internet or any computers. It seems entirely plausible that you could function them underwater, but this would use up a LOT more electricity, is there a theorhetical maximum amount of electricity you could have available underwater (from a practical engineering standpoint)?

  3. You mention that it's always been your dream to set up a permanent underwater monitoring station, but you didn't really explain what you meant by that. What would the station monitor? Why would it monitor it? What impact would it have? What action would it take if conditions changed in a notable way in a short period of time?

  4. Is your project funded through NASA?

  5. I think that this is a very interesting project for a multitude of reasons, but with the open bottom design, isn't there a maximum depth that these habitats can reach before the pressure outside is (much) greater than the pressure inside?

  6. You mentioned that in 10 years these would be a viable living situation, and I have no doubt that at some point, they will be. But the one thing I don't understand from a practical standpoint is the economy of an underwater self-contained community. How would people live underwater in a fixed location but still work and have any type of income for electricity / consumables.

  7. This one is going to sound silly but ummmm: Showering? Or would you just hop in the water? This would be viable (kinda) in freshwater, but it would become (much?) less viable in salt water, correct?

  8. How long have you worked at NASA? How invested is NASA in this project?

I really hope you find time to reply to these!!

Edit: I noticed that you stated that these habitats would NOT be self-sustaining, which brings up a question of practicality...especially in terms of number 6. If you had to commute to work from the bottom of the ocean, wouldn't that be a little.... tempestuous some days?

Edit 2: 9: With the open bottom design, would there be any danger in the event of a sea-quake or tsunami / rogue wave / extremely high tide changing the pressure above the habitat? and forcing water in?

DChamberland37 karma

Your questions are fantastic - but LONG. Let me see how I can do in my remaining time.

The habitat modules are for family and peronal privacy. There IS a central hub for commiunity interaction.

Power is not a problem in the gulf stream. It is nearly unlimited. PLENTY of computer and internet availablilty. Are you kidding.? My lifespan outside the silicone world is like minutes.

World ocean health monitoring. Now we are BLIND. We need visibility there amnned by intelligent humans.

NASA has NO part or funding invested in this.

The 2012 habitats have open bottoms (ambient pressure> The 2015 models and beyond are all sealed, airlocked 1 ATM.

Most of our residents will work either desk jobs via computer or will work ashore and commute each day. Our commute is less than most suburbian commutes.

All showering will be in fresh water. Salt water showers are generally horrible.

NASA is zero invested. I have worked for NASA 22 years.

On a few days a year weather will prevent access to the surface and the shore.

There is no open bottom design in the ocean colony.

THANKS! GREAT questions!!

[deleted]35 karma

Ok, I don't have anything constructive to really contribute, but here are my questions:

1) Do you collect any of the undersea LEGO sets? Aquanauts was one of my favorites. They were way ahead of their time. I think you should model your uniforms off of those sets.

2) There aren't a lot of hot women on the Atlantica team. You can tell Dr. Sarah Jane Pell (if that is a current pic) that she is hot, but seriously her biography makes NO SENSE. I got a headache from reading it, honestly. I wish it were more concise like Carolina Sarasiti's, who is also a cutie. The only reason I make such a shallow comment is that I would really enjoy having pretty women around while trapped underwater like this. Just look at the crew of Serenity - it wouldn't have been nearly as good for the crew if the women weren't as hot.

3) Why do we start with bases underwater in the ocean? Why has the USA not sponsored a base under Lake Superior or something? Wouldn't that be an easier and safer place to start for a project like this?

4) Did you ever watch SeaQuest a long time ago? The talking dolphin was my favorite character.

DChamberland69 karma

  1. Legos Aquanauts. This is ALSO my fav LEGO set. It was gioven to me on an underwater mission in 1997 by French Undersea Architect Jacques Rogerie. (I am dead serious). I treasurfe that set.
  2. Fully agree - except that SJP's ressume is actually totally exciting - read it again. The Serenity crew was fantastic - I especially LOVED the energy of Kaylee - OMG....
  3. The ocean is the future - why shrink back? We just suck it up and go for the gusto.
  4. I liked the dolphin yea - but my fav was Lucas - admired him very much.

Tripleberst25 karma

The test subjects will in fact use starfish for money.


DChamberland55 karma

CHeck Wikileaks for my comment on this.

yotz19 karma

Greetings fellow NASA redditor. How's KSC?

DChamberland28 karma

Sadly downsizing. Someone cancelled the space program...

yotz21 karma

Just the bit where we launch stuff using government monies.

DChamberland35 karma

Good point! Go Space-X!

Leahn17 karma

Ok, first the obligatory questions:

1) Ninjas or Pirates?

2) Has your ununsual job caused a shortage of bacon in your life, or even no bacon at all?

3) I need a third question. Do you have a suggestion?

Now the serious questions.

Excuse my ignorance, but what's the point? The undersea is very inhospitable, it really dislikes human beings as being there unprotected would instantly kill you, and all. Why would you go there voluntarily?

P.S.: Reading the website now...

All_Your_Base33 karma

I can answer that one. For the same reason we go to space.

DChamberland195 karma

Exactly! People live where they want to live and reasons really don't matter much at all - only the desire to go. REASONS are for bean counters, hand wringers and politicians. Exploration is for real humans who are expressing their innate genetic desire to expand and to explore.

cogito_ergo_sum57 karma

One of the best answers I've ever heard. Send that to the NASA marketing team.

DChamberland82 karma

Sighhh... it won't matter.... trust me

DChamberland17 karma

The Ninjas sound good to me!

aaOzymandias13 karma

what about undersea submarine pirates? :)

DChamberland27 karma

Not worried... yet....

cunnl0116 karma

Why send Louis and Clarke past the Mississippi? I hear there is nothing worth discovering out there. The drive to explore and discover is not strong with this one.

DChamberland22 karma

I greatly value your deeper insights, my Cyborg friend. Stay close today.

peck327717 karma

I imagine you have a very busy schedule so thank you for taking the time to answer our questions! What you propose to do is very exciting.

I have been looking through the website and I apologise if I ask any questions that are already answered there. Also I hope I don't ask too many questions.

There are quite a lot of people involved, while ye are living underwater will there be any member of the team designated to law enforcement (I know ye are probably all friends and don't expect any trouble but who knows)?

If there is an accident what safety measures have ye in place?

Is the programme open to international candidates?

What are the policies on smoking? I imagine it is banned?

Will there be something along the lines of a gym for people to exercise or will people be expected to go to dry land for it?

DChamberland22 karma

  1. No law enforcement yet - although several of the current members are former law enforcement pros.
  2. We have massive saety procedures and policies.
  3. Yes it is open to intl candidates. We have crewmembers fomr 7 nations so far. See our website crew bio lists.
  4. No smoking is allowed on any of our property inside or out. We love smokers. We do not love smoke. (It's a lung thing.) 5.There will be a fitness center of course.

[deleted]17 karma

A Sealab by NASA!? Will you be declaring Martian Law?

DChamberland25 karma

NASA is NOT involved with this in ANY way.

[deleted]14 karma

How did you get to where you are today? What is your academic/professional history, in a nutshell?

DChamberland35 karma

That is found at this link:


Probably WAY more than you wanted - but thank you for asking!

wsnich21 karma

You are one cool dude, thanks for doing this post! Always great to see a person follow their dreams like you have.

DChamberland31 karma

Thanks. But others here think my website stinks. I am now in therapy because of that comment. Shesshhhhhh.....

wsnich25 karma

People here can be harsh but its constructive criticism!

DChamberland25 karma

I accept it as such. Too bad there is not enough time and $ to make it all work perfectly!

VIJoe13 karma

I am sure you are aware of the Tektite programs that were conducted in the US Virgin Islands.

I am curious as to a professional's opinion of the program generally. How important are they considered? What are the biggest takeaways?

Rock on.

DChamberland20 karma

The Tektite founder and director is my neighbor here and good friend. What program are you refering to?

VIJoe13 karma

Alright. You caught me. I expended almost my entire knowledge of the Tektite on the question.

I have been to the site at Lamshur Bay, St. John, the site of the original Tektite 'base.' These are pretty small islands where not a lot of important things happen. The Tektite program is pretty well known here, but we often relish in the very obscure. The little reading that I've done online didn't clarify the scope of the program much.

Was the Tektite work in the VI considered important? Groundbreaking? What lessons were learned that will change the way that the Atlantica project will be done?

DChamberland11 karma

Sure it was important! A lot of firsts came form Tektite. It was where Dr. Sylvia Earle got her start and many other undersea explorers. I pick Dr. Jim Miller's brain a lot. It had a lot to offer in lessons-learned.

NSFLLife12 karma

Outside of it being cool - Why an undersea colony as opposed to an oversea colony? It seems like the cost of living space below the ocean would be much higher than living above the water (such as on boats within a large breakwater) since you don't have to deal with keeping the whole colony pressurized.

DChamberland51 karma

Its not about cost AT ALL - it is all about WHAT you desire to do. If you love it - you pay and then go do it. Otherwise you sit around and dream till they bury you. Write the check - live it up because one day the clock ticks down to zero.

[deleted]12 karma

What types of defensive systems will the Undersea Colony be equipped with? Cavitation torpedoes? Active sonar? Harpoon missiles?

DChamberland27 karma

Seriously. ALL these issues were discussed IN DETAIL in my novel about an Undersea Colony: QUANTUM STORMS

Mishkan11 karma

How does your schedule look like between working at NASA and on your project? (When do you work on the project instead of work).

Are you planning for a modular system in the long run?

Thanks for doing this, I'm finishing up my M.S. in Ocean Eng soon, so I'm getting a kick out of this. I'll have a lot more questions to ask, but I have to leave in a few minutes.

DChamberland12 karma

NASA = 8 hours/day Atlantica Expeditions = 10 hours/day Sleep = 6 hours/day

Send me an email - I want to continue this with you. (See website) Ref this post.

madwickedguy10 karma

I would presume that there are undersea "weather" patterns that have to be taken into account. I also presume we don't know much about said "weather" patterns. What are some specifics that you're taking into account when building the "outer shell(s)"?

DChamberland8 karma

EXCELLENT QUESTION! I discuss this in excruciating detail in my book UNDERSEA COLONIES:

cloudspit8 karma

I need to know this but was 20000 leagues under the sea your favorite movie? What is the deepest you can build one of these things so far?

DChamberland26 karma

My favorite movie is 2001 Space Odyssey because it is so much like living undersea and the Odyssey space habitat was just the best ever design. Abyss was good but it did not feature a liveable habitat.

Dynamite_Noir6 karma

So what is the Deepest you can build one of these things?

DChamberland22 karma

7 miles straight down - the bottomless pit....

Leahn6 karma

Now that I've read some of the website, I have more serious questions (don't mind the first ones, I always ask them).

I know you're under US laws, and all that, but who is gonna be sovereign on those colonies? Will they be US-territory? Will it be international like the ISS? Will you found a new country?

How do you plan on feeding people? While my brain keeps telling me that I've read somewhere that the bottom of the ocean is fertile land, I do not think that any of you are agricultors. Or am I mistaken?

How would you handle the transportation to and from surface? Economy? The air supply? The internet access? ;)

While I applaud the idea of a zero-waste 'settlement', how will you deal with the stuff that can't be recycled?

How about hardware and equipment maintenance?

DChamberland10 karma

It is a Florida community under Florida/US laws. We go back and forth to the grocery store for food. Sumarines and elevators from and to the surface. Air is form the surface or made by hydrolysis from seawater. Internet access by satellite or cell phone links. There is always a non-recyclable fraction. It is ocmpressed, encapsulated and stored. When somehting breaks we mail it off for repairs.

[deleted]6 karma


DChamberland18 karma


[deleted]5 karma


swampthing866 karma

Do you hire non-Ph.D applicants? I'm really interested in getting into the human habitation aspect of space exploration, also from a biology perspective, but I'm not so sure about doing graduate school. Am I doomed to clerical work with only a bachelor's degree in biology if I got into a program similar to your?

DChamberland9 karma

Check the site out and:

All volunteers today - may change later. Existing members get first looks.

dagbrown4 karma

So, uh...Peter Watts fan?

(Link is to a novel. Literally. Watts is a sometime marine biologist who took up a new career writing stories about people living in undersea colonies.)

DChamberland5 karma

I guess i need ot check him out.

dagbrown9 karma

You might not actually be doing badly if you drop him a line and say hi. I'm sure he'd be interested to hear from someone doing exactly what he wrote about in his fiction, and well, he is a marine biologist with an interest in deep-sea fauna.

I get the impression it's not a field with millions of people in it.

DChamberland7 karma

Good idea! I will look him up.