Engineer and daredevil caver Bill Stone pushes the frontier — through flooded tunnels, the remotest depths of the Earth and the limits of human endurance.

Why you should listen

Engineer and daredevil explorer Bill Stone is obsessed with discovery. After years of crawling through the deepest unexplored caves on the planet, he's building robots to go where he can't. His company Stone Aerospace built DepthX, an autonomous robot, which descended 1,099 feet down Mexico's deepest watery sinkhole. In 2009, Stone and his team completed a successful mission to Antarctica. ENDURANCE, an expedition sponsored by NASA, was developed to explore and map under the ice of Lake Bonney in Antarctica. But this was just a test for the real mission (which is explained in a  National Geographic documentary, Journey to an Alien Moon): building a probe with NASA to bore through miles of ice on Jupiter's moon Europa, then swim through the buried Europan sea in search of alien life.

He's also hoping to singlehandedly jump-start commercial human space exploration by offering spacefarers affordable fuels and consumables extracted from the moon. His new Shackleton Energy Company, or SEC, intends to raise $15 billion (as he points out, this is about the cost of a North Sea oil production platform complex) to mine ice thought to be trapped on the moon's southern pole at Shackleton Crater, and to sell derived products (including propellants and other consumables) on the moon and in low earth orbit (LEO) to international consumers.

Read about his 2014 expedition to the Chevé system, perhaps the deepest cave on Earth.

What others say

“With a doctorate in structural engineering and 11 patents to his credit, Stone is the archetypal modern-day explorer, a multidisciplinary maverick constantly inventing tools in the name of discovery lust” — Wired

Bill Stone’s TED talk

More news and ideas from Bill Stone

Psychology's final frontier: Staying sane in space

August 24, 2008

Astrobiology Magazine posts an intriguing report today: The American Psychological Association is looking seriously at the question of astronauts’ mental health. It’s an issue that has sometimes been swept under the rug, says the APA’s press release: Historically, astronauts have been reluctant to admit to mental or behavioral health problems for fear of being grounded. […]

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Archive: Bill Stone says, "I’m going to the moon — who’s with me?"

August 8, 2008

For the next two weeks, we’re presenting some of our favorite TEDTalks from among the 270+ talks and performances we’ve posted since June 2006. Look for brand-new TEDTalks starting August 18. Until then, enjoy these gems — and suggest your own by writing to or joining the conversation on Bill Stone, a maverick […]

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The Lonely Interplanetary guide to scuba diving

August 1, 2008

Bored with Earthly beach destinations this summer? Does the word “Carribbean” not ring exactly, well, “exotic” these days? With this week’s news that (highly acidic) water has been tasted on Mars and an ethane lake has been discovered on Saturn’s moon Titan, perhaps it’s time to investigate otherworldly destinations for fun in the surf. Grab […]

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