Pamela Higgins of Brooklyn, New York was recognized for a lifetime milestone this weekend: Her 300th hour of wondering how the heck underwater tunnels are built.
“Well first I usually wonder where in the water the underwater tunnels are,” Pamela said about this rudimentary engineering question while riding the A train. “Like, are we just on a train that’s on the ocean floor? Does the underwater tunnel just float mid-water and does the under-water hold it up? If that’s the case, do the waves ever fuck things up? Should I be scared that waves will unhinge the underwater tunnel I’m in now? Or is there a bridge that’s underwater that holds up the tunnel?”
Before we were able to ask a follow-up question, Pamela continued: “If there’s a bridge that’s underwater that holds up the tunnel, how is that any easier than building a bridge above the water? Also, how do they build that bridge? Do they have bulldozers that work underwater and do they use that to clear out all the sea anemones and kelp? Isn’t it all just sand down there? How does it stay put?”
While we didn’t have the answers ourselves, we asked Pamela to expand on her idea of “underwater bulldozers”.
“I’m not stupid, I know there’s probably no underwater bulldozers. What would that even look like, bulldozers in one of those waterproof hamster balls but big? Wait, I feel like that could work. I mean how else would they do that, would they just drop in the tunnel like a claw machine would drop a toy? That seems crazy.”
“The Real Stumper is how do they not get any water inside the tunnels?” Pamela continued. “Like even if the entire tunnel is already built and they claw drop it in, wouldn’t water seep through while they’re trying to align it with the entrances on either side? That’s so much water!”
We offered Pamela a few ways she could get the answers to these questions that plagued her.
“Of course I’ve looked it up. I looked it up nine times,” she explained. “It never makes any sense to me and I immediately forget.”
“It’s just all so wild,” she added. “I mean, to think that I’m traveling on a train in a tunnel that’s underwater. Are there fish around me? What else is there?”
Pamela then looked forlornly out the window while pondering what else there is in the ocean, before ultimately missing her stop.
Stay curious, Pamela!