Ocean Cleanup's 2,000ft net deployed at Great Pacific Garbage Patch

The Ocean Cleanup's System 001 is being deployed at Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

  • The U-shaped System 001 is designed to collect massive amounts of garbage.
  • A boat will come collect the garbage every couple of months.
  • This is the first full-scale, real-world test of the foundation's technology, which has been criticized by skeptics.


A 2,000-foot-long floating pipe connected to a submerged net arrived Tuesday at its destination in the Pacific Ocean where it will begin collecting massive amounts of plastic.

The system belongs to the Ocean Cleanup Foundation, a Dutch environmental startup that's aiming to remove 90 percent of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch—the largest of the world's five ocean trash patches—by 2040. In September, System 001 departed from San Francisco for the garbage patch, located about 1,000 miles off the coast of California.

System 001

System 001, nicknamed Wilson, is a giant U-shaped barricade that corrals trash and plastic with a 3-meter-deep net. The system is remotely controlled and outfitted with two cameras. A boat will come to collect the garbage every couple of months.

The foundation published a video detailing how it works.

Scaling up to save ocean life

The foundation, which has raised more than $30 million since 2013, hopes to eventually deploy a fleet of approximately 60 systems similar to Wilson.

"That plastic is still going to be there in one year. It's still going to be there in ten years," said 24-year-old Ocean Cleanup founder and CEO Boyan Slat. "It's probably still going to be there in 100 years, so really only if we go out there and clean it up this amount of plastic is going to go down."

Although some have criticized the foundation's first-of-its-kind technology, Slat said the only way to know whether it's effective is to test this first system at full scale.

"We're confident we've eliminated risks where possible, but not everything can be calculated, simulated or tested at scale[4]," he said. "The only way to be sure is to trial it at full scale. Our first system should be regarded as a beta system, allowing us to eliminate the last remaining uncertainties before scaling up."

The coming months will hopefully reveal just how effective System 001 really is, and whether it could help make a dent in the estimated 8 million metric tons of garbage that flow into the world's ocean every year.

Should you defend the free speech rights of neo-Nazis?

Former president of the ACLU Nadine Strossen discusses whether our society should always defend free speech rights, even for groups who would oppose such rights.

Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Former ACLU president Nadine Strossen understands that protecting free speech rights isn't always a straightforward proposition.
  • In this video, Strossen describes the reasoning behind why the ACLU defended the free speech rights of neo-Nazis in Skokie, Illinois, 1977.
  • The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.
Keep reading Show less

Become an intellectual explorer: Master the art of conversation

Want to be smarter than you were yesterday? Learn to have better conversations using these 3 design principles.

Sponsored by the Institute for Humane Studies
  • What is a great conversation? They are the ones that leave us feeling smarter or more curious, with a sense that we have discovered something, understood something about another person, or have been challenged.
  • There are 3 design principles that lead to great conversations: humility, critical thinking, and sympathetic listening.
  • Critical thinking is the celebrated cornerstone of liberalism, but next time you're in a challenging and rewarding conversation, try to engage sympathetic listening too. Understanding why another intelligent person holds ideas that are at odds with your own is often more enlightening than merely hunting for logic errors.
Keep reading Show less

New alternative to Trump's wall would create jobs, renewable energy, and increase border security

A consortium of scientists and engineers have proposed that the U.S. and Mexico build a series of guarded solar, wind, natural gas and desalination facilities along the entirety of the border.

Credit: Purdue University photo/Jorge Castillo Quiñones
Politics & Current Affairs
  • The proposal was recently presented to several U.S. members of Congress.
  • The plan still calls for border security, considering all of the facilities along the border would be guarded and connected by physical barriers.
  • It's undoubtedly an expensive and complicated proposal, but the team argues that border regions are ideal spots for wind and solar energy, and that they could use the jobs and fresh water the energy park would create.
Keep reading Show less

Belly fat: Gut bacteria checks could lead to personalized diets

The reason one diet does not suit all may be found in our guts.

Media for Medical / Getty Images
Surprising Science
  • New research shows that there's no one diet that works for everyone.
  • Instead, gut bacteria may hold the key to personalized diet plans.
  • A future doctor may check gut bacteria to offer diet advice.
Keep reading Show less