Video: What Scuba Pioneer Christian Lambertsen's Gear Looked Like

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Pioneering diver and inventor, Christian Lambertsen, died yesterday at the age of 93. While he did a variety of things in his life, he is probably best known for coining the acronym SCUBA (self-contained underwater breathing apparatus) in addition to his creation of actual scuba gear.

His first underwater creation was known as the Lambertsen Underwater Respiratory Unit or LARU (Lah-roo). It was used in World War II and spawned many imitators.

I was able to dig up some footage of the LARU at work from a documentary hosted at the Internet Archive about early underwater cinematography. I've excerpted just the LARU clip above, but the whole thing is a fascinating (if ridiculously slow) watch.

Observe the similarities between the device in the water and the patent drawings Lambertsen filed in 1942. (I particularly like the posture of the human in the first sketch.)

Laru1.jpg

Laru2.jpg

Video: Periscope Film.

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science website in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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