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Harry Fryer
2008-Feb-05, 12:27 PM
What's the biggest man made object on the planet?

Paul Beardsley
2008-Feb-05, 12:49 PM
The Great Wall of China?
The Vertical Assembly Building?

KLIK
2008-Feb-05, 12:55 PM
are you talking about the 2 mile long structure on "atom" last night? (particle accelerator) maybe at Stanford?

G O R T
2008-Feb-05, 01:07 PM
Three Gorges Dam ?

Fresh Kills Landfill ?

The islands of Dubai ?

NEOWatcher
2008-Feb-05, 01:11 PM
Good guess, but two miles is wayyyyyyyy short.
This sounds like it might turn into one of those things that might be debatable. Is a multiple component item a single item? Is a result of man's intervention a man made object?

The interstate system?
Lake Mead?

KLIK
2008-Feb-05, 01:14 PM
Object rather than structure... I'm assuming nothing like "pollution" or similar

Dust bowl in the Southern States?

Aswan Lake?

Celeste
2008-Feb-05, 01:17 PM
Since you say "object" and not merely "building", that would be a continental-sized road network. I would bet on the Europe-Asia-Africa network. It would have the longest minimal distance between two points, the biggest minimal enclosing surface, and the biggest maximal enclosed surface. I think it will supass the railway network.

Now that I think of it wired telecommunications would have the biggest length since it is worldwide thanks to submarine cables. But I can´t tell about surface enclosed or enclosing since I don´t know how many wireless relays are involved. Also its structure involves more single branching and less loops than the roads network.

Given of course that you do not count all the atmospheric contaminants plus excess CO2 as an object.

KLIK
2008-Feb-05, 01:24 PM
You're getting warmer.....

Check this out :-

http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/the-worlds-rubbish-dump-a-garbage-tip-that-stretches-from-hawaii-to-japan-778016.html

A rubbish island that is twice the size of continental America!


Not much long term hope for albatross and turtles then; I saw an article in National Geographic about the stomach contents of a dead albatross and it was disgusting the amount of rubbish in it.

NEOWatcher
2008-Feb-05, 01:48 PM
...A rubbish island that is twice the size of continental America!

I saw that quite some time ago in relation to a documentary, but I can't find it anywhere. I wanted to know if this is just a regurgitation of old news disguised as a new story "discovered" by this reporter.

But; I was right, it is debatable if this is an "object". It is a collection. A bad one, yes. At what density are the boundaries? With a different line being drawn, you can even say the entire oceanic system is the object.

If it gets dense enough, maybe it will be a candidate as a harvestable energy source. :think:

grant hutchison
2008-Feb-05, 02:01 PM
The international telephone cable network: a mesh of wires the size of the planet. :)
Edit: Oops, I see Tempus got there before me.

Grant Hutchison

Halcyon Dayz
2008-Feb-05, 02:07 PM
Flevoland (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flevoland#The_Flevolands.2C_Zuiderzee_Works), a 970 km2 artificial island.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9a/Zuiderzeeworks.png

JustAFriend
2008-Feb-05, 02:17 PM
Largest VISIBLE man-made object:

The US national freeway system.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freeway

http://www.vacationmapusa.com/maps-usa/usa-map-4a.gif

joema
2008-Feb-05, 03:03 PM
The biggest man-made object is a rubbish island that is twice the size of continental America floating in the Pacific.
It's a fascinating and sobering subject, but it's not an object by the normal definition. An object is generally defined as something which can be seen or touched.

The floating regions of oceanic rubbish are not visible and cannot be touched as a distinct object. They can't be seen from space or the air. When sailing through them on the ocean surface they are not visible as a distinct entity. See video: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3892310789953943147

They aren't "islands" in the normal sense, which the above article explains. Rather they are diffuse, mostly-submerged regions of loosely agregated plastic refuse articles.

More info: http://science.howstuffworks.com/great-pacific-garbage-patch.htm

Ilya
2008-Feb-05, 04:29 PM
I've already answered it.
The biggest man-made object is a rubbish island that is twice the size of continental America floating in the Pacific.

Sorry, but it is not an "object" and certainly not an island. It's a collection of discrete objects. An object is something contiguous.

NickW
2008-Feb-05, 04:55 PM
I am still waiting for pictures of this "object". It would be like calling all man-made satellites in earths orbit one object, instead of several.

geonuc
2008-Feb-05, 05:03 PM
Nice try, Harry, but no cookie for you.

So what would be the largest object? The interstate system is proposed, but I have a hard time calling that an object, although I can't articulate why. The Great Wall? I've heard that too, but if the interstate system fails to qualify, why should the wall.

NEOWatcher
2008-Feb-05, 05:11 PM
I am still waiting for pictures of this "object". It would be like calling all man-made satellites in earths orbit one object, instead of several.
This is another reason I was hoping to find the earlier references. There were pictures, and it was worse than I imagined it was, but my vague memory can't describe what that "worse" is.

NEOWatcher
2008-Feb-05, 05:15 PM
So what would be the largest object? The interstate system is proposed, but I have a hard time calling that an object, although I can't articulate why.
Multiple segments, funded in multiple ways, to multiple specifications, and the final product still designated as segments.

The Great Wall? I've heard that too, but if the interstate system fails to qualify, why should the wall.
By it's usage? In pieces it's almost useless as apposed to unconnected segments of the interstate.
Or maybe, the design and construction was a continuous project.

Hard to say...

Ilya
2008-Feb-05, 05:19 PM
Nice try, Harry, but no cookie for you.

So what would be the largest object? The interstate system is proposed, but I have a hard time calling that an object, although I can't articulate why. The Great Wall? I've heard that too, but if the interstate system fails to qualify, why should the wall.

I would "articulate" that most of interstate system is modification of landscape. Large amount of paint spread over ground does not make an object, and neither does large amount of asphalt.

That objection does not apply to Great Wall which really is a building, or rather buildings -- it is actually many separate walls. I do not know the dimensions of the largest contiguous section, but it may be smaller in volume than some largest modern buildings.

01101001
2008-Feb-05, 05:30 PM
My fave: the Four Corners Project (http://www.davidbarrart.com/four_corners_project.htm).

It's a tetrahedral sculpture with edges 6464.79 miles long.


The Four Corners Project is the construction of the world’s largest sculpture using the least amount of materials. It consists of an invisible tetrahedron spanning the inside of the earth with the outer four corners just protruding from the crust of the earth. These visible corners are located in Easter Island, South Africa, Irian Jaya (New Guinea), and Greenland, with imaginary planes extending through the earth from each corner to the other three. The corner is a pinnacle of marble (a four inch tetrahedron) barely emerging from the ground like a sprouting plant.

NickW
2008-Feb-05, 05:39 PM
Umm.....right.....

AndreasJ
2008-Feb-05, 05:46 PM
The mass of this "island" is estimated at 100 million tons in the article. By way of comparison, the waters of Lake Nasser weigh in at over 100 billion tons, and I'd think they've got a better claim to objecthood.

Ilya
2008-Feb-05, 06:36 PM
My fave: the Four Corners Project (http://www.davidbarrart.com/four_corners_project.htm).

It's a tetrahedral sculpture with edges 6464.79 miles long.

I've got a bigger one -- the irregular tetrahedron formed by Pioneer 10, Pioneer 11, Voyager 1, and Voyager 2. A man-made object bigger than Pluto's orbit! And gets bigger every second!

Can we stop this silliness now?

Kebsis
2008-Feb-05, 07:27 PM
The Death Star

RalofTyr
2008-Feb-05, 08:33 PM
The Death Star
Damn you!!!

I just thought of that!!!

Neverfly
2008-Feb-05, 08:47 PM
Originally Posted by Ilya:Can we stop this silliness now?


Originally Posted by Kebsis: The Death Star

Nope.:neutral:

In regards to the oceanic trash- It is a large gathering of garbage and I wholeheartedly agree it should be addressed, whether it's scale is exaggerated or not.

I would consider the Great Wall of China an object, but not the US highway system (Or another nations - they would probably be larger anyway for some).

The Great Wall is visible from space as well. Not many other man made artifacts can boast that claim.

NEOWatcher
2008-Feb-05, 09:00 PM
...The Great Wall is visible from space as well. Not many other man made artifacts can boast that claim.

Ouch...Here we go...buckle your seatbelts...don't go there (http://www.bautforum.com/questions-answers/61982-smallest-objects-visible-space.html#post1028542).

Noclevername
2008-Feb-05, 09:14 PM
If we're counting modifications to landscape, the Sahara Desert is the largest man-and-goat made land alteration. And it's visible from space, too. ;)

01101001
2008-Feb-05, 09:18 PM
I've got a bigger one -- the irregular tetrahedron formed by Pioneer 10, Pioneer 11, Voyager 1, and Voyager 2. A man-made object bigger than Pluto's orbit! And gets bigger every second!

Can we stop this silliness now?

Stop. Silliness. BAUT. I don't understand. Aren't we in a silliness deficit? We need more, yes?

Your good idea gave me an idea, because I struggled to figure out how yours fit the "on the planet" constraint.

And then another object came to mind, one that piggybacks some on yours: the Deep Space Network.

But, is DSN the network of just radio dishes, or is it the network of all the nodes that communicate? I get mixed results on the Web. DSN home page (http://deepspace.jpl.nasa.gov/dsn/) says: "[DSN] is an international network of antennas[...]". Some documents from Case Western and NASA Glenn Research Center seem to say that among the network nodes are the distant satellites. We might need a judges' decision on this.

It's too bad some of those old spacecraft are no longer active on the network, and maybe shouldn't count towards its size, but perhaps: once a network node, always a network node.

So, is a communications network an object? Do the physical nodes of a network define its physical extent?

Does the DSN (or some network by another name) include the spacecraft nodes? Formerly living spacecraft? Are we too biased towards space and astronomy to answer fairly?

Does the Internet subsume the DSN, and would it be an ever so slightly larger object? Would it contribute nothing to physical size?

Can the biggest man-made object on the planet have some of its parts that make it big not physically on the planet?

Or do we have to settle for trash?

aurora
2008-Feb-05, 09:45 PM
how about the largest structure, as in the largest pile of concrete poured out in one place?

Halcyon Dayz
2008-Feb-05, 10:48 PM
I guess that would be the Three Gorges Dam in China.

From Wiki (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Gorges_Dam):

The project used 27,200,000 cubic metres (35,600,000 cu yd) of concrete, 463,000 metric tons of steel, enough to build 63 Eiffel Towers, and moved about 10,260,000 cubic metres (13,400,000 cu yd) of earth.

geonuc
2008-Feb-05, 10:52 PM
If we're counting modifications to landscape, the Sahara Desert is the largest man-and-goat made land alteration. And it's visible from space, too. ;) I hate to ask, but ... :confused:

Noclevername
2008-Feb-06, 12:33 AM
I hate to ask, but ... :confused:

Grazing by goat herds bred by humans is thought to be a major contributor to the Sahara turning from grassland to desert during the Neolithic era. Goats tear up grass by the roots.

novaderrik
2008-Feb-06, 12:46 AM
the moon.. oh, wait, you said MAN made, not alien made..
sorry, carry on..

Celeste
2008-Feb-06, 01:08 AM
Grazing by goat herds bred by humans is thought to be a major contributor to the Sahara turning from grassland to desert during the Neolithic era. Goats tear up grass by the roots.

Would not anomalistic precession have a part in that?

Noclevername
2008-Feb-06, 01:12 AM
Would not anomalistic precession have a part in that?

The timing's not quite right. The Sahara seems to have become desert mostly in the last 5000-6000 yrs.

rebel
2008-Feb-06, 01:47 AM
I've already answered it.
The biggest man-made object is a rubbish island that is twice the size of continental America floating in the Pacific.

Harry Fryer, thanks for that bit of information. I had no idea that the rubbish was collecting together in the ocean. As I read on in your post after this quote by you, I see that no one seems to be affected let alone stunned by this fact. That reminds me of what a guy at work once commented on! He is a republican and told me that Global Warming is not really happening. Once again I thank you for taking your time to post your findings, and just to let you know, I do care and wish people would treat the Earth better. For now this is the only place we have to call home.

FriedPhoton
2008-Feb-06, 02:29 AM
You know, I really thought I would open this thread and see a picture of my former sister-in-law.

Ivan Viehoff
2008-Feb-06, 11:25 AM
The Great Wall is visible from space as well. Not many other man made artifacts can boast that claim.
Now well-known to be utter nonsense made up to promote tourism. GWC is narrower than the typical road, and of very similar colouration to the surrounding scenery. So it is actually less visible from space than the typical asphalt road. It certainly can't be made out with the naked eye from a manned spacecraft orbiting outside the atmosphere. If you need convincing, I suggest you go look at google earth and see how close in you have to zoom before you can make it out clearly.

On the other hand major cities and major impoundment reservoirs are straightforward to make out from space. As is all that street lighting on the dark side of the planet.

Neverfly
2008-Feb-06, 11:34 AM
Now well-known to be utter nonsense made up to promote tourism. GWC is narrower than the typical road, and of very similar colouration to the surrounding scenery. So it is actually less visible from space than the typical asphalt road. It certainly can't be made out with the naked eye from a manned spacecraft orbiting outside the atmosphere. If you need convincing, I suggest you go look at google earth and see how close in you have to zoom before you can make it out clearly.

On the other hand major cities and major impoundment reservoirs are straightforward to make out from space. As is all that street lighting on the dark side of the planet.

Yet another childhood myth smashed to pieces.
http://us.i1.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/i/mesg/emoticons7/46.gif
Thanks though;)

While I am posting though... I wonder if we can get some rules from the OP to clarify what an object is.

Michael Noonan
2008-Feb-06, 12:35 PM
Yet another childhood myth smashed to pieces.
http://us.i1.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/i/mesg/emoticons7/46.gif
Thanks though;)

While I am posting though... I wonder if we can get some rules from the OP to clarify what an object is.

That sounds like an excellent idea because if the definition is as loose as non contiguous and floating then it could include around a hundred light years worth of radio emissions from the planet.

I will wait for the definition but certainly agree with the OP that a floating double mainland size island of garbage is very worrying.

geonuc
2008-Feb-06, 12:56 PM
Yet another childhood myth smashed to pieces.

Gets kinda depressing after a while - everything you thought you knew as a kid is wrong. :sad:

Neverfly
2008-Feb-06, 01:00 PM
Gets kinda depressing after a while - everything you thought you knew as a kid is wrong. :sad:

Not everything...;)

Neverfly
2008-Feb-06, 01:06 PM
I will wait for the definition but certainly agree with the OP that a floating double mainland size island of garbage is very worrying.

The OP seems to be a bit obsessive, only partaking in GW discussions and bringing GW up in every thread.

I agree that the floating trash is troublesome, but I do not agree with exaggeration for the sake of boosting the worry factor. Tell it like it is- it is worrisome enough without needing to resort to exaggeration.

Unless the OP would like the thread closed since his answer was reached- I think the thread has the potential for some interesting speculations. In which case a more "solid" definition of what an object is would help.

This also brings up another point:

This debris floating fluidly out there in the Pacific is a problem.

What can we do with modern technology, resources and funds to clean it up?

It is not an island upon which you can land men with shovels.

I see rather large ships out there trawling with tea strainers actually.

I'm sure it can be done. Look at out well Lake Tahoe was cleaned up:)

Neverfly
2008-Feb-06, 01:09 PM
Well it seems there are a few people confused as to what construes an object. Understandably, as I wasn't clear.
I regard this mass of plastic and rubbish as a single object, because if you were in a boat it, you would need to sail completely around the sides of it to pass it. I know that this is not a 'perfect' analogy, and I'm sure people will take some issue with it, especially as we live in the days of the media re-defining words in the English language.

Nevertheless my original reason for posting the question is, as many of you quite rightly guessed, to highlight the amount of plastic crap we have amalgamated and now just let pollute the planets oceans.

You posted while I was posting.

Again, exaggeration is just not necessary. We can all be concerned just fine with the horrifying facts.

If you were in a boat, you could go right through it just fine. You would not need to sail around it lest you bump into it. It is not solid. It is a debris field of plastic pieces floating suspended in fluid. You could sail through it just fine like you could murky water.

The reasons some people might skirt it would be smell or 'ick' factor. Even that would be silly considering it's size- you would end up going way out of your way trying to go around it.

KLIK
2008-Feb-06, 01:18 PM
I think Harry Fryer has brought up an interesting if depressing subject, I only live about 10 miles from the sea and am therefore quite conscious of the amount of junk in it, and also what seagulls pick up and carry off.

below are some links of interest which are worth a look;

http://www.naturalhistorymag.com/master.html?http://www.naturalhistorymag.com/1103/1103_feature.html long article (explains why it's not better known), extract below;

….”I often struggle to find words that will communicate the vastness of the Pacific Ocean to people who have never been to sea. Day after day, Alguita was the only vehicle on a highway without landmarks, stretching from horizon to horizon. Yet as I gazed from the deck at the surface of what ought to have been a pristine ocean, I was confronted, as far as the eye could see, with the sight of plastic. It seemed unbelievable, but I never found a clear spot. In the week it took to cross the subtropical high, no matter what time of day I looked, plastic debris was floating everywhere: bottles, bottle caps, wrappers, fragments. Months later, after I discussed what I had seen with the oceanographer Curtis Ebbesmeyer, perhaps the world’s leading expert on flotsam, he began referring to the area as the “eastern garbage patch.” But “patch” doesn’t begin to convey the reality. Ebbesmeyer has estimated that the area, nearly covered with floating plastic debris, is roughly the size of Texas. ….”
“…Few seafarers ever cross the North Pacific subtropical gyre. Fishermen shun it because its waters lack the nutrients to support an abundant catch. Sailors dodge it because it lacks the wind to propel their sailboats…..”




http://science.howstuffworks.com/great-pacific-garbage-patch.htm short article about Pacific gyre


http://www.algalita.org/gallery2/main.php?g2_itemId=178 Kamilo beach but I don’t know the context

http://www.algalita.org/gallery2/main.php?g2_itemId=199 inside a dead albatross


http://www.flickr.com/photos/59204382@N00/2056712238/ photo of gyre from space, took a while to load, hover your mouse over the picture

AndreasJ
2008-Feb-06, 01:29 PM
As I read on in your post after this quote by you, I see that no one seems to be affected let alone stunned by this fact.
To be stunning, something has to be impressive and surprising. This fails in the second department.

Celeste
2008-Feb-06, 01:29 PM
Nevertheless my original reason for posting the question is, as many of you quite rightly guessed, to highlight the amount of plastic crap we have amalgamated and now just let pollute the planets oceans.

It looks to me then that you were not really asking since you already had an answer that you had already decided to provide. I don´t think you even care to discuss what is the really biggest man-made object in the planet. You want to discuss the object you have pointed to, with disregard to what its place in a ranking of size is and to whether it qualifies as an object or not.

To be short, you did not have a question for the Questions and Answers forum.

Please next time consider using Off-Topic Babbling or General Science (this last one if you think your thread qualifies for it).

FriedPhoton
2008-Feb-06, 01:33 PM
Who dumped the garbage, and why isn't the world getting on their case to clean it up?

joema
2008-Feb-06, 01:40 PM
Well it seems there are a few people confused as to what construes an object....I regard this mass of plastic and rubbish as a single object, because if you were in a boat it, you would need to sail completely around the sides of it to pass it...
There is confusion on this, however it's not an object and you DON'T need to sail around it.

You can clearly see in this video a boat sailing THROUGH the debris, which is quite sparse. In fact it looks like he's on the open ocean, not within a "garbage island": http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3892310789953943147

Neverfly
2008-Feb-06, 01:49 PM
Sorry to shatter your stereo-typical view of me, but I have posted about things other than global warming.

Yes, you have. But I am sure I am not the only person to notice that you post about GW in threads not related to GW, and participate mostly in GW threads. I will get back to this toward the end of my post.

It's nothing to be ashamed of that that is where your interest is.
But it would help if you kept the topics organized if you post about GW in nonrelated threads.
That's all.
This thread was started as an environmental impact thread for a purpose of discussing the patch of garbage and that is fine too. The other side of the coin is that the topic strayed to speculating about what the biggest object is.
At this point you can either encourage some interesting speculation
Or
Help keep the thread on track by carefully outlining that the OP is actually about this problem in the Pacific.

See, I had gotten confused too. I thought this was a speculative thread and hadn't noticed what it was actually about until today.

So My previous two posts show that confusion.

Nor do I want this thread closed. The more people talk about trying to solve these type of problems the better the world will be.
I agree.

I was not aware of this stink pile at Sea and I'm glad that you have helped make it aware to us.

Personally I think that something needs to be done - soon.

But I do not agree with exaggerating the nature of the problem. Let's stick to the facts.


You seem to have a vendetta against me Neverfly. Is this normal on this board?

Normal for me? or normal for BAUT?

You can hardly hold BAUT accountable for my behavior.

We also had some HotHeaded exchanges in PM- but I hold no grudges over that. You can PM me anytime just as easily and discuss those conversations too- My only request is that you think about what I say to you even if your initial reaction is harsh. Later I can forgive an initial reaction- but not thinking about the valid points raised suggests that communication is useless. Personally, I think all people have moments when communication breaks down.
So water under the bridge.

Harry Fryer, I understand that you care about the Environment. This is the only home we've got. But having a passion is not an excuse to be boneheaded about it either.
I wouldn't be able to tell it to you if I wasn't able to relate to it myself.

So I'm not some angry guy that is out to get you.

Just like my very first PM to you- I am trying to help you see something you are not seeing. But only you can choose to see it.

If you feel like I'm accusing you of things about which you need to get defensive- Remember that I have admitted that I get just as guilty of not stopping to think things through, having a passionate viewpoint and having initial reactions that perhaps were not appropriate. See, I need to think about this stuff too, so I was trying to help you out initially by making you aware of it for yourself.

Your primary focus seems to be on GW and environmental concerns. In this thread you are not getting angry or making statements that are particularly outlandish- But you are misrepresenting the facts and exaggerating.
Add to this a posting history of rather odd GW- and it makes a person question whether or not they will be able to discuss this issue in this thread reasonably.

Neverfly
2008-Feb-06, 01:51 PM
It looks to me then that you were not really asking since you already had an answer that you had already decided to provide. I don´t think you even care to discuss what is the really biggest man-made object in the planet. You want to discuss the object you have pointed to, with disregard to what its place in a ranking of size is and to whether it qualifies as an object or not.

To be short, you did not have a question for the Questions and Answers forum.

Please next time consider using Off-Topic Babbling or General Science (this last one if you think your thread qualifies for it).

See, that totally threw me for a loop too. I had to go back and re-read the thread and then I said, "OH! I get it!":p

Harry Fryer, the riddle you made is fine but- be understanding about how it caused some confusion eh?

geonuc
2008-Feb-06, 01:57 PM
I thought the thread was about the biggest man-made object, too. Silly me.

NEOWatcher
2008-Feb-06, 02:07 PM
Who dumped the garbage, and why isn't the world getting on their case to clean it up?
That was addressed in the links.
Some is intentianal, some is incidental, and some is the result of a large accident. According to the video, that is 20%.
The other 80% is blown in, or "sewered" in from land.

I feel that it is a littering issue rather than a manufacturing or production issue. People are very rude in this way.

Neverfly
2008-Feb-06, 02:15 PM
WOW!

Right.

<takes a deep breath>

NEOWatcher
2008-Feb-06, 02:20 PM
There is confusion on this, however it's not an object and you DON'T need to sail around it.
That's my biggest beef. This is the way it's portrayed, and so far, every link you follow in this thread shows the concentrations where it has washed up on shore or collected.
But; people can't grasp the scale of this either, so we're left with sensationalism.


You can clearly see in this video...
Pretty good and interesting video, but I wish they would have explained a few things.

The plastic provides a vector for exotics to move throughout the pacific to cause Biotic Mixing.
Huh? How does that happen?

They compare plankton to plastic which is a good measure, but they use the absolute ratio as the "scare factor" rather than explain the changes. Then later they say the plankton only comes up from the bottom at night, yet thier skimming was at the top during the day.

[Added] In the video they mention that 50% floats, don't mention how much sinks (therefore, how much is affecting the total volume) then at the end talk about the "cubic kilometers".

Neverfly
2008-Feb-06, 02:23 PM
Please!

Don't start again! You've put so many mis-understandings and assumptions in the last post, I don't think I can take anymore.

Actually I put none. But if you like you can PM to clarify it.
Or you can clarify it here.

NEOWatcher
2008-Feb-06, 02:28 PM
I used this question, because that was how it was being reported on the British news. I'm sorry, I should not have used the exagerrated way the media was portraying it.
I apologise also for confusing you, Tempus, I certainly didn't mean that.
It wasn't the question or the wording, it was the fact that it was catagorized in an area meant for questioning, rather than an area that is meant for enlightenment.
Because of that, it reinforced the idea that you didn't know the answer.

Now we all know (I hope).

grant hutchison
2008-Feb-06, 02:44 PM
The plastic provides a vector for exotics to move throughout the pacific to cause Biotic Mixing.
Huh? How does that happen?There are reef fish that like to live next to, and graze off, surfaces in shallow water: they nibble algae off rocks and coral, for instance, and use crevices to hide from predators. A floating mass of rubbish in the open ocean lets them "commute" from one isolated reef to another: populations that were once separated by deep open ocean are now connected by a continuous chain of potential habitats.

Grant Hutchison

Jeff Root
2008-Feb-06, 03:02 PM
http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/the-worlds-rubbish-dump-a-garbage-tip-that-stretches-from-hawaii-to-japan-778016.html

A rubbish island that is twice the size of continental America!
Clearly not an object...
And clearly a very important thing to know about.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

Neverfly
2008-Feb-06, 03:05 PM
I, too, just watched the video documentary made by the environmentalists who went out to investigate.

That's a LOT of plastic!
Even by the loosest definition of the word, it is not an object, however.
The commentator mentioned each fragment as they passed by it.
And that was when they were at the highest concentration. He was able to count the objects there were so many of them.
But that fact he was standing there counting them as they went by the moving vessel- indicates how this "object" certainly lacks density.

The exaggeration actually does more harm than good.

I went into it thinking I was going to see sludgy plasticy water. Like thick soup. I knew it wasn't a solid island but... maybe soup.

Nope.

The water was quite clear and normal. Every few meters you saw a plastic bottle, an old buoy, food containers etc.

My initial reaction- considering that I had been set up to think of a garbage island - was, "Hey ! that isn't so bad!"

Definitely a good idea to not exaggerate. The impact was lost.


They certainly did not need to "steer the boat" to avoid anything.

Click Ticker
2008-Feb-06, 03:19 PM
http://www.naturalhistorymag.com/master.html?http://www.naturalhistorymag.com/1103/1103_feature.html from a caption on the picture;

….”Bottle caps and other plastic objects are visible inside the decomposed carcass of this Laysan albatoss on Kure Atoll, which lies in a remote and virtually uninhabited region of the North Pacific. The bird probably mistook the plastics for food and ingested them while foraging.”

Don't birds eat stones and such to aid in digestion of food since they can't chew? The objects they swallow serve to break down the food that they typically swallow whole in order to get the nutrients out of it. I think the writer didn't understand why the bird ate those plastic items. It wasn't because it thought they were food.

I'm not saying eating plastic is good for the bird - but at least do a little research.

NEOWatcher
2008-Feb-06, 03:25 PM
...I'm not saying eating plastic is good for the bird - but at least do a little research.
They may have, we don't know. But; yes, at least mention the effects.

NEOWatcher
2008-Feb-06, 03:30 PM
...I went into it thinking I was going to see sludgy plasticy water. Like thick soup. I knew it wasn't a solid island but... maybe soup...
Maybe broth?


...The water was quite clear and normal. Every few meters you saw a plastic bottle, an old buoy, food containers etc...
True, but that's stuff that's obviously visible. They did show a lot of non-apparent stuff, and explain how a lot of it has fragmented.
It sounds too complicated, and the scales just too large to really get a good "feel" for the severity of it.


...My initial reaction- considering that I had been set up to think of a garbage island - was, "Hey ! that isn't so bad!"...
Yep; that stuff has that effect on me too. And; if I don't go back and give a lot more thought, or research into it, I'm left yawning.

Neverfly
2008-Feb-06, 03:34 PM
Yep; that stuff has that effect on me too. And; if I don't go back and give a lot more thought, or research into it, I'm left yawning.

Exactly. And I'm not trying to downplay the severity of the problem. But the hype did a lot more harm than good. I can see a lot of folks thinking about a Futurama style garbage ball (barge?) after the hype- then seeing the reality and saying, "Whatever..." and thinking it isn't really a problem.

ToSeek
2008-Feb-06, 07:56 PM
Moved from Q&A to OTB since it's more of a discussion thread than a question-answering thread.

KLIK
2008-Feb-07, 01:59 PM
Don't birds eat stones and such to aid in digestion of food since they can't chew? The objects they swallow serve to break down the food that they typically swallow whole in order to get the nutrients out of it. I think the writer didn't understand why the bird ate those plastic items. It wasn't because it thought they were food.

I'm not saying eating plastic is good for the bird - but at least do a little research.


I'm not sure that Albatross have crops, aren't they more for birds that eat grain and "hard" foods? fish and squid is (I would have thought) easily broken down. I tried a quick search but couldn't find anything. (and when you are on the wing most of the year you'd have to be careful to get a "hard" stone; gypsum for example would wear too quickly.


I'm intrigued that you managed to quote me when in fact what you quoted is within the link and hence not my comment.

NEOWatcher
2008-Feb-07, 02:16 PM
I'm intrigued that you managed to quote me when in fact what you quoted is within the link and hence not my comment.
Makes sense to me. You were the one who provided the information on the board. It gives us a trail back to the source.

I doubt it was directly a reflection of your views.

Click Ticker
2008-Feb-07, 03:24 PM
I'm intrigued that you managed to quote me when in fact what you quoted is within the link and hence not my comment.

NEOWatcher is correct - I thought I had indicated that the actual quote was from the article. Sorry for the confusion there. I just hit reply and your info was left.

Your insight on the grain eating birds was helpful. I'll look into it further. It was a possible explanation for why an Albatross would eat a bottle cap. I can't imagine they would confuse a bottle cap for a food source otherwise. More looking for the actual reason the birds ate the caps then pretending there's no reason to clean it up.

Argos
2008-Feb-07, 03:29 PM
The Death Star

The OP asks for an object built on the planet.

Michael Noonan
2008-Feb-07, 05:07 PM
The OP seems to be a bit obsessive, only partaking in GW discussions and bringing GW up in every thread.

Strangely enough I understand that people can get a bit obsessive. You are right though it must get on other peoples nerves after a while.


I agree that the floating trash is troublesome, but I do not agree with exaggeration for the sake of boosting the worry factor. Tell it like it is- it is worrisome enough without needing to resort to exaggeration.
Now that I have watched the video my initial reaction to the compactness of the collection is clearer. Still I do believe the size of the problem is going to be the sheer size of the problem, that is a lot of ocean.


Unless the OP would like the thread closed since his answer was reached- I think the thread has the potential for some interesting speculations. In which case a more "solid" definition of what an object is would help.

This also brings up another point:

This debris floating fluidly out there in the Pacific is a problem.

What can we do with modern technology, resources and funds to clean it up?

It is not an island upon which you can land men with shovels.

I see rather large ships out there trawling with tea strainers actually.

I'm sure it can be done. Look at out well Lake Tahoe was cleaned up:)

Tea strainers, yes that could be scaled upwards. Now that the pile has been in place for so long I wonder if a quick solution is possible or desirable. It is an entire ecosystem now so would cleaning restore an old system or put more strain on what is left of the original species indeed if it was known.

Plastic as a collector of toxins and oil may present fuel and chemical possibilities while the biggest problem is where to dispose or destroy what is collected. Neverfly it is good to know you are keeping an eye on things here, as a 'bit' of an obsessive myself it is handy to see a steadying perspective, cheers :)

Neverfly
2008-Feb-07, 05:38 PM
Strangely enough I understand that people can get a bit obsessive. You are right though it must get on other peoples nerves after a while.
<raises hand> GUILTY!



Now that I have watched the video my initial reaction to the compactness of the collection is clearer. Still I do believe the size of the problem is going to be the sheer size of the problem, that is a lot of ocean.
Tea strainers, yes that could be scaled upwards. Now that the pile has been in place for so long I wonder if a quick solution is possible or desirable. It is an entire ecosystem now so would cleaning restore an old system or put more strain on what is left of the original species indeed if it was known.
I thought of that too. But after watching the video I think it would make little difference to leave such a mess for the sake of a "new ecosystem." There really isn't one.
The plastic has served the purpose that driftwood has before.

Bear in mind that the ocean has been suffering pollution long before us humans arrived.

Wood and other natural debris was floating out there too and has been for millenia.

The plastic justs lasts longer and there seems to be a lot more of it. It's the new fad.
I would say clean it.


Plastic as a collector of toxins and oil may present fuel and chemical possibilities while the biggest problem is where to dispose or destroy what is collected. Neverfly it is good to know you are keeping an eye on things here, as a 'bit' of an obsessive myself it is handy to see a steadying perspective, cheers :)

<Wobble>
No problem mate!
<falls over>

Kebsis
2008-Feb-07, 11:05 PM
The OP asks for an object built on the planet.

Ah, but in fact he asked for the largest object on the planet; not the largest object built on the planet, and he did not specifiy which planet he was talking about. If I'm not mistaken, most of the deathstar should be occupying an extremely large crater on Endor at the moment (I think that's the planet)

Maha Vailo
2008-Feb-08, 01:08 AM
So, the giant sea of trash in the Pacific could theoretically be cleaned up using strainer-like nets (possibly on cargo ships). Now does anyone have any idea on how a mere mortal like me could keep it from getting any bigger?

- Maha Vailo

Noclevername
2008-Feb-08, 01:41 AM
If I'm not mistaken, most of the deathstar should be occupying an extremely large crater on Endor at the moment (I think that's the planet)

Endor is the "forest moon", not a planet.

mike alexander
2008-Feb-08, 02:12 AM
Skylark of Valeron.

I call.

mike alexander
2008-Feb-08, 02:24 AM
The Death Star was about 125 km across

The Skylark of Valeron was 1,000 km across. And it was built from pure energy in six hours.

Dick Seaton was GOOD.

geonuc
2008-Feb-08, 10:26 AM
...and he did not specifiy which planet he was talking about.

But he did. In context, saying "the planet" necessarily refers to the one you are on at the time you say it. To broaden the meaning beyond earth, you would say "a planet". :)

KLIK
2008-Feb-08, 01:10 PM
Hi NEOWatcher and Spock Jenkins,

Thanks for clearing that up, I'm used to a couple of forums where a quote quotes only the message and also includes previous quotes within it and a quote can't be edited, so I'll try and remember that.

A quick search didn't find anything about gizzard stones but there is info that they feed plastics to their chicks so appear to treat it as food.

RalofTyr
2008-Feb-08, 02:30 PM
The Death Star was about 125 km across

The Skylark of Valeron was 1,000 km across. And it was built from pure energy in six hours.

Dick Seaton was GOOD.

Both of these things were made on a planet.

Michael Noonan
2008-Feb-08, 02:50 PM
So, the giant sea of trash in the Pacific could theoretically be cleaned up using strainer-like nets (possibly on cargo ships). Now does anyone have any idea on how a mere mortal like me could keep it from getting any bigger?

- Maha Vailo

I was hoping you would get an answer for this question. Even from a lay persons perspective it is an incredibly difficult question. The problem is a logistical nightmare and one that doesn't have an answer as simple as even stopping the inflow of plastics. Even the removal of plastic from the centre to shrink the size of the garbage pile is problematic.

Then there is the consideration of where to put the recovered plastic so that it doesn't find its way back to the garbage pile. Plastics can breakup so the sieve would be such a fine filter that it would remove all life from the area being cleaned. Much of the water polluted would be inaccessible due to the plastic being at depth. Ships big enough to be equipped would use an anti-foul highly toxic paint to prevent barnacle build up and so add more deadly toxins to the soup. Fuel used in the recovery of waste plastic would add to the current world atmospheric pollution. Possibly clearing out the centre might not even cause the remaining plastic to flow inwards

Another thing to consider is what does this garbage pile do with regards to world heating. It is a carbon sink due to the carbon locked within the plastic, albeit an unsightly one. At least with Lake Tahoe there have been many years of records from the first inhabitants of the land to historic records to modern scientific study. Even that system is under a daily maximum waste load regulation of pollutants calculated on what it theoretically can handle. Because the gyre is so remote and with about 10 or so years of sporadic documentation it just couldn't be known what was threatened, endangered or already extinct.

As for exotics the motion of the gyre encourages mixing over time so the migration of these species in uncontrollable. At least with the cane toad here in Australia it has to walk. I was talking with friends regarding a counter measure to defeat the cane toad but that is something else. In all it is a logistic, economic, ecological, environmental, political and scientifically enormous problem that doesn't have enough community support yet to have a solution. This is not intended as a personal attack but humans are the largest waste producers of all the species in volume, toxicity, variety and area of dispersal that has ever existed.

Vaelroth
2008-Feb-08, 09:35 PM
The gyres are pretty big, and I don't know if this has been addressed yet, but they exist where they do because there aren't any currents that move through the area. Instead, the currents that move around the gyres deposit more debris in them.

As for cleaning them up, we need to design some synthetic bacteria to eat it all and upon running out of food the bacteria should bunch up into one massive object and shut down. Thus, they'd fall to the ocean floor to be recycled by bottom dwelling organisms. The bacteria should be designed to break down the plastics into whatever least harmful by products they can be.

mike alexander
2008-Feb-09, 12:23 AM
As for cleaning them up, we need to design some synthetic bacteria to eat it all and upon running out of food the bacteria should bunch up into one massive object and shut down. Thus, they'd fall to the ocean floor to be recycled by bottom dwelling organisms. The bacteria should be designed to break down the plastics into whatever least harmful by products they can be.

Great idea until you think it through.
Let's release bacteria into the general environment that can eat the plastics we use in everyday life and commerce. Then we will tell them sternly to stay in the garbage heap.

Maha Vailo
2008-Feb-09, 02:57 AM
Why not, then use sailing ships (no fuel needed) and large, specially designed rakes to get rid of the plastic? Or how about designing and building a large floating factory city to deal with the mess?

And if humans really are the problem, then maybe I should just kill myself. Or would I be much more valuable to this world alive than dead?

- Maha Vailo

Neverfly
2008-Feb-09, 03:29 AM
Why not, then use sailing ships (no fuel needed) (snip)

- Maha Vailo

One of the reasons vessels do not enter the area much is that the sails tend to hang limp in that region. There isn't as much wind to power the sails.

Vaelroth
2008-Feb-09, 05:16 AM
Great idea until you think it through.
Let's release bacteria into the general environment that can eat the plastics we use in everyday life and commerce. Then we will tell them sternly to stay in the garbage heap.

It might also be possible to design a bacteria that fed only on the plastic-eating bacteria. When the gyre has no more plastic, the second type would finish the plastic eating population and eventually die of starvation. I mean, if one could be done so could the other.

Delvo
2008-Feb-09, 06:06 AM
And then, when the snakes are all finished off, Springfield doesn't end up with a snake-eating gorilla problem because the snake-eating gorillas just die off when winter comes.

Michael Noonan
2008-Feb-09, 10:32 AM
Why not, then use sailing ships (no fuel needed) and large, specially designed rakes to get rid of the plastic? Or how about designing and building a large floating factory city to deal with the mess?

And if humans really are the problem, then maybe I should just kill myself. Or would I be much more valuable to this world alive than dead?

- Maha Vailo

Sure humans cause problems but they also find answers. Perhaps justice is that in small doses we are eating some of the plastic that we dumped in that food chain already. Attempt at humour there regards eating the problem.

Maybe the solution is to look at plastic earlier in the production cycle and consider which types of plastics are most likely to get to the gyre. Plastic bags, wrappings and some marine gear and then design it to naturally biodegrade in less harmful ways and in a shorter timeframe.

I am sorry in that I looked at the negative only in the last post. It was my trying to get a feel for the size and difficulty of the problem. There are solutions and ways of containing problems until solutions are found. Those wonderful humans with their opposable thumb are needed as there aren't too many other good candidates available to fix the problem.

What I am saying is we learn by our mistakes and everyone is valuable ... no exceptions :)

Noclevername
2008-Feb-09, 03:46 PM
Sure humans cause problems but they also find answers.

Usually not the same people.

But yes, dealing with the causes of the polution rather than (or along with) the results will untimately be more useful in the long run.


And if humans really are the problem, then maybe I should just kill myself. Or would I be much more valuable to this world alive than dead?
One person more or less won't make much of a dent in the impact of six-plus billion. And unless you can somehow convince entire societies that having kids isn't just a personal decision, let alone a "commandment" of their Deities, it's not something that's going to get solved anytime soon, either.

Vaelroth
2008-Feb-09, 06:50 PM
And then, when the snakes are all finished off, Springfield doesn't end up with a snake-eating gorilla problem because the snake-eating gorillas just die off when winter comes.

I see your point, but in that episode Springfield was dealing with natural creatures. I'm sure my ideas have already been thought of by those who are already working with synthetic DNA, and they're probably coming up with better ideas than mine as we speak.

mike alexander
2008-Feb-10, 01:34 AM
While I think the idea of Safeway Bag-eating bacteria is a bad one all by itself, the mindset that looks for an automatic pooper-scooper for humans so we can continue to act like idiots I find more depressing still. It's much easier to ignore the mess, or have Authority tell us there's nothing we can do anyway, or that in just fifty years some amazing tecnological advance (like nuclear fusion, which I've also been waiting for for fifty years) will wave its wand and make everything hunky-dory.

And FWIW, the largest manmade strcture is probably Noam Chomski's ego.