Scientists, students wanted to live aboard a crazy, nuclear-powered yacht

Earth 300 could be the best way to get your feet wet practicing cutting-edge science.

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Eric Mack
3 min read

An artist's rendering of Earth 300. 

Earth 300

Life aboard a research vessel often isn't the most luxurious experience, but a new initiative called Earth 300 aims to change that by building high-tech science facilities atop a 968-foot (295-meter), nuclear-powered mega-yacht.

It's basically a sustainable science cruise ship where certain super smarties might one day work and live for free.

Earth 300 founder and CEO Aaron Olivera says the project was inspired when he saw corals killed by ocean acidification while working on a project in the Maldives. He describes later looking out at the Mediterranean Sea and dreaming up the concept.

"I started thinking, how great would it be if we could inspire a global renaissance and bring together the smartest and the latest and greatest architects and artists and inventors and scientists of the day," Olivera said during an Earth 300 launch event shown in the video below.

Olivera was previously president of Royal Falcon Yachts, where he helped finance a mega-yacht project designed by Porsche. Now he hopes the yacht of his dreams could provide the perfect venue for his vision. The plan is to invite a diverse group of experts, researchers and regular citizens aboard to do work that advances the cause of global sustainability.

Earth 300 is designed to support more than 400 people living aboard, making it more like a cruise ship than a yacht. Olivera envisions over 160 scientists and students living and performing research on the ship for free.

Alongside scientists working in disciplines that include marine, earth, space, climate and atmospheric sciences, Olivera hopes to add "experts such as entrepreneurs, economists, engineers, artists, filmmakers and journalists" to the mix, creating a truly interdisciplinary floating research institution.

Scientific facilities aboard will include 22 labs equipped for everything from robotics to weather visualization to 3D printing.

Olivera worked with a designer to create a vessel that could be immediately recognizable in the hope it will become an international symbol of sustainability that helps draw more attention to the cause.

The design includes 20 VIP suites, half of which will be reserved for inspiring or unsung people who will cruise for free, and the other half will be leased out to wealthy tourists. Bloomberg reports the suites will be available for $3 million (£ 2.2 million, AU$3.9 million) for a ten day cruise, helping to fund the whole venture.

Olivera promised that research done aboard Earth 300 will be open source and available in real time for collaboration around the globe.

In keeping with the sustainability theme, the plan is for the vessel to be emissions-free and powered by an advanced type of small nuclear reactor that's under development by Terrapower, a company founded by Bill Gates.

But all this is pretty far off. Right now all we have is some artist's renderings and a vague plan. Olivera hopes to raise financing for the project in preparation for a maiden voyage currently scheduled for 2025.

No word yet on how to put your name in for consideration for that first voyage. Stay tuned, sailors.