In 1774, John Day, an ignorant but ingenious English millwright, fancied that he had devised a plan by which he could remain completely
underwater at any depth for at least 24 hours. The contraption he had devised for this feat would afford him a degree of comfort until, at his leisure, he returned to the surface. Day could think of no useful purpose for his invention other than making money by wagering on his feat. He therefore contacted a local gambler who agreed to furnish funds for the construction of Day’s diving machine for a lion’s share of all the bets gained by it.
If nothing else, Day’s plan had the virtue of simplicity. His machine was merely a watertight box attached to a weight by means of screws. After entering the box and sealing the entrance, the vessel would be sunk and would remain underwater until, at the designated time, Day would remove the screws and he and the box would rise to the surface.
The machine was finished, bets were taken, and everyone convened at a designated spot on Plymouth Sound where the water was 132 feet deep. Day entered the compartment with a comfortable chair, a watch, some biscuits, a bottle of water and a candle. Perhaps had he taken a basic science book with him — it may have enlightened him (if he read fast enough) but at that point it wouldn’t have helped. The box was tightly closed and sunk 132 feet to the bottom from where neither it nor the unfortunate John Day ever arose.
I must confess that my imagination refuses to see any sort of submarine doing anything but suffocating its crew and floundering at sea. — H. G. Wells