In 7th grade our science teacher, Mrs. Cheeks, began showing an educational miniseries produced by PBS called Voyage of the Mimi. It followed a fictional crew of cranky oceanographers as they bothered some humpback whales off the coast of Massachusetts in a 1930s French-built sailboat called the Mimi. For some reason the crew always sailed with a few annoying kids including a whiny 12-year-old Ben Affleck. Each dreary episode was split into two 15-minute segments, the first being a tragedy that befalls the crew, the second being the MacGuyveristic science that saves their lives. This was all reinforced by endless stacks of worksheets hot off the mimeograph with ample room in the margins for epic sketches of Ben Affleck being eaten by sharks.Anyway, one episode always stuck with me. In episode 10 “Water, Water, Everywhere” the Mimi crashes on a deserted island in the third minute of the program. The crew realizes they are marooned and it’s clear everyone will soon die unless fresh water can be found. A 30-second search is unsuccessful and half the crew begins to pass into unconsciousness. Suddenly the skipper remembers the scientific theory of evaporation! Using his remaining stores of energy a hallucinogenic Ben Affleck in the advanced stages of dehydration helps construct an elevated tent that captures evaporating dew and collects it in a small canister. By minute 12 the tarp is producing more water than the Boston metropolitan water treatment facility and the crew is saved. I don’t remember if there was a kid named Chao Gao in my junior high school, but apparently he saw this episode of Voyage of the Mimi and it forever influenced the direction of his life. Chao has designed an amazing portable water filtration device based on the teachings of Ben Affleck—aptly called C-Water—that can extract potable water from sewage, salt water, or any other form of moisture. Amazing.
(via best part)