One of the three subthemes of Expo 2020 Dubai is Mobility – looking at the different ways humankind has moved around and explored. At Expo 1867 Paris, one form of mobility was advanced by the inspired creation of Benoit Rouquayrol and Auguste Denayrouze: the diving suit.
The new apparatus drew the attention of visitors for its promise of underwater exploration, an ambitious frontier in the 19th century. The existing technology for underwater work and exploration, the diving bell, was cumbersome and limited the mobility of its user. With its rubber suit weighted with lead and consistent air supply by means of a pressure regulator and an ‘artificial lung’ air tank and pump, Rouquayrol and Denayrouze’s creation was far more practical.
Allowing divers to move with relative freedom and featuring a patented nose clip and rubber mouthpiece attached to a metal tube, the diving suit was in many ways the precursor to modern scuba equipment. The diving suit received a gold medal at the Expo and was notably appreciated by one visitor, a certain Jules Verne, who used it as inspiration for his adventure novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.
The Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) is the intergovernmental organisation in charge of overseeing and regulating World Expos, Specialised Expos, Horticultural Expos and the Triennale di Milano.