I think it’s safe to say that at this point we’ve all heard about the Thai boys’ soccer team that was stranded in a cave. In case you haven’t, here’s the rundown: on June 21, 13 members of the Wild Boars junior soccer team entered the Tham Luang Nang Non cave in the Chiang Rai Province in Thailand.
They soon became trapped and were stuck on an elevated rock in the cave with quite a long passage of water between them and safety. The boys and their coach were marooned in the cave for 18 days before they were all rescued.
It’s like something out of a movie, happy ending and all. But before the boys made it out, a world-wide outcry rallied together experienced divers and engineers to join the cause. The rescue received international news coverage, and many countries offered their best specialists to help the boys.
Many were concerned about the grim adventure, especially after the death of Saman Kunan, a former Thai Navy SEAL who died during the rescue.
Because of the intense media attention, the story was also well-documented on social media. A big player in the social media talk was businessman and engineer Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX and one of the creators of the Tesla.
On his Twitter account, he announced that he was going to build a “kid-size” submarine for the rescue effort, which he then made and tested.
Got more great feedback from Thailand. Primary path is basically a tiny, kid-size submarine using the liquid oxygen transfer tube of Falcon rocket as hull. Light enough to be carried by 2 divers, small enough to get through narrow gaps. Extremely robust.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 7, 2018
When Musk arrived in Thailand to personally deliver the submarine, the rescuers were less than enthusiastic about his arrival. By that time, eight of the 12 children had already been rescued, so Thai authorities told him use of the submarine would be impractical.
According to Thailand-based British diver Vern Unsworth, who took part in the rescue mission, the submarine “had absolutely no chance of working” because Musk “had no conception of what the cave passage was like.”
Unsworth, speaking to CNN, continued to criticize Musk, stating that the submarine was “just a PR stunt,” even going so far as to say Musk should “stick his submarine where it hurts.”
If it seems that Unsworth had gone a bit too far, enter Musk, who did not take the criticism of his invention so positively. Defending his “role” in the mission, he refuted Unsworth’s claims that he was asked to leave the cave and backed up his invention, challenging Unsworth to show a video of the cave.
He then revoked his challenge, saying that he will make another sub to go through the cave. He signed his tweet off with a vague threat towards Unsworth: “Sorry pedo guy,” Musk wrote, “you really did ask for it.”
The tweet, which has since been deleted, drew outrage from many users. Only time will tell if Musk lives up to his (many, many) claims, but I for one am very interested in this juicy Twitter beef.