The Sea Orbiter is a 170-foot vessel that looks like an airplane wing set on its side, designed to drift around the earth while bored scientists inside study fish, plankton, and the ecology of the underwater world while getting on each other's nerves. Powered by nothing but sea currents and blown by the wind, the slow-moving ship will take two years to circumnavigate the earth, giving the scientists plenty of time to figure out what's happening in the underwater world in which two-thirds of this odd-looking craft is submerged.

Showing interest in the ship are NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), which are both quite familiar with sending people to sit inside isolated tin cans for months or years on end in the name of research. While this is pretty much vaporware so far with just a scale model in existence, the ship's designer, French architect Jacques Rougerie, plans to actually build this gigantic buoy and set sail sometime soon. Bon voyage.

À la Jules Verne [Gemini, via SciFi Tech]