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View Full Version : The 3 Dolphin Club: is it real?


Loach
03-02-2004, 12:50 AM
I'm trying to find out if this is a hoax or a secret NASA is trying to keep from everyone. I remember back in the mid-eighties I read an article (I think it was a fact article in Analog) that explained what the three dolphin club was. I just recently read in a SF book someone gave the the same explaination I remembered.
If you have never heard of it, this is how I remember it. When the shuttle program began, it became more common for women to be astronauts. As the crews became mixed there was a natural curiosity about zero-g sex. NASA frowned on experimentation. They felt it was not the proper avenue for scientific research. Since most of th astronauts are married, and not to each other, any hint of any trysts would be bad publicity. The story goes that some in the program took it upon themselves to become experimental subjects. Several people went to the zero-g training pool after hours and attempted the experiment. It seems that there were some problems. Without adequate leverage the two subjects became unattached at the worst posible time. The solution was to have a third person helping direct the thrust when needed. This was explained as being similar to how dolphins mate.
The article said that further experiments have occurred in space. Those that join the club are said to get a pin with 3 dolphins on it.
Anyone else hear of this? I tried to search the SDMB but I didn't find anything. If there was a thread that mentioned it please direct me. I think its pretty likely that someone has tried it by now but I don't know if they have their own version of the mile high club.

mcbiggins
03-02-2004, 01:20 AM
Sounds very bogus to me. The training tank is a big swimming pool they use to practice being inside a space suit. How do they have sex if they're all in suits? There is no magical zero-g room. Did they conspire with the pilots and grounds crew of the vomit comit and have 45 second quickies while it did parabola runs? That's the closest NASA gets to free-fall on earth. And the shuttle/space station isn't exactly full of privacy. Imagine 7 people in a school bus. Could two (or three, following your theory) sneak off to a corner to have sex? Sure. But everyone else on the crew, and at mission control, and eventually you and me at home would know about it. Have two astronauts ever fooled around in space? i think it's likely its happened at some point. But no way is there a vast conspiracy of space sex.

Larry Mudd
03-02-2004, 01:23 AM
There's no "Three Dolphin Club" that anyone's about to admit to. :D

You may find this Scientific American article (http://sciam.com/article.cfm?articleID=00013BBD-A029-1CD6-B4A8809EC588EEDF) interesting, though.(Rumors of unofficial orbital couplings abound, but no one is talking.) Yet sexual tensions could affect crew performance and thus mission success. "It's just one more problem that can potentially cause the whole thing to come apart," says retired astronaut Norman E. Thagard.

[...]

"Though we are not currently supporting research on human sexuality," concedes Frank Sulzman of NASA's Life Sciences Division, "we realize that it is a difficult and sensitive area--and not something we're denying is important by any stretch of the imagination." White of the NSBRI adds: "Human sexual behavior and gender are among the key topics that should be investigated in future research."

Skeptics aren't holding their breath, however. NASA, explains psychologist and NASA adviser Robert B. Bechtel of the University of Arizona, has historically shunned the "softer" sciences in favor of technology. "They worry that the addition of unquantifiables like sexuality and psychology will somehow take away from the engineering side of spaceflight. Our task is to convince them that in today's space program--and for the future--there's room enough for both."

Loach
03-02-2004, 11:08 AM
http://analogsf.com/cgi-bin/searcheng.cgi

I was able to find the original article mentioned on the Analog homepage but it does not have the whole article archived. The fact that it appears in the April issue gives me some pause. However, I used to read Analog faithfully and I don't remember them pulling anything like an April fools joke. If you are not familiar with the magazine it specialized in hard science fiction along with some pretty heavy science fact. They take themselves pretty seriously and leav most of the soft SF to their sister publication ASIMOV"S. The late G. Harry Stine had a monthly fact column for some time before his death. Dr Stine was literally a rocket scientist. He worked at White Sands and still had close ties with many in the space program at the time of this article. He was also the foremost authority on model rocketry in the world. Not a man known (professionally at least) as a jokester.

There is no magical zero-g room.

No shit :rolleyes: I guess thats why I called it the "zero-g training pool" in the OP. I didn't think they had working anti-gravity.

The reason I made the OP is because I recently read a new account of this in book 2 of "The Heritage Trilogy" by Ian Douglas. He either read the same article as I did or he heard the same story from another source. Ian Douglas is a pseudonym for William Keith. I'm going to email the author and see if he lets me know.

mcbiggins
03-02-2004, 07:35 PM
Then why bring the training pool up? If they're in the pool with their suits on, then what's the point. And if they're in the pool without their suits, then why run the risk? It's jsut a big pool. If they want to practice fooling around in a pool, why not go to somebody's house or the holiday inn? Why risk getting caught?

Cervaise
03-02-2004, 09:17 PM
What? No links to Ceceil's classic column on the subject (https://academicpursuits.us/classics/a4_214.html)? For shame. :p

Exapno Mapcase
03-02-2004, 10:03 PM
It seems that there were some problems. Without adequate leverage the two subjects became unattached at the worst possible time. The solution was to have a third person helping direct the thrust when needed. This was explained as being similar to how dolphins mate.
One other question arises: is there the slightest evidence that dolphins ever use a third partner to help them mate?

If the name isn't true to life - and I don't think it is - then it casts some serious doubts on the rest of it being true.

Along with all the other reasons.

BTW, would you mind giving the year and title of the Analog article? It's certainly not apparent on the link you gave.

Sm:)e
03-02-2004, 10:30 PM
That phrase is also in Stephen Baxter's book Manifold: Time. According to the little bio at the back of the book, he has been know to talk to NASA people as well.

Sm:)e
03-02-2004, 10:32 PM
That phrase is also in Stephen Baxter's book Manifold: Time. According to the little bio at the back of the book, he has been know to talk to NASA people as well.


Along with the same explanation I should add.

(Sorry for the self-reply)

Loach
03-02-2004, 11:17 PM
Then why bring the training pool up?

Maybe because it was mentioned in both of the places I found it mentioned as where the first experiments took place. I didn't just make it up.

If they want to practice fooling around in a pool, why not go to somebody's house or the holiday inn? Why risk getting caught?

After thinking about it for 15 seconds I came up a couple reasons. You would need a pretty deep pool. Most private pools and all hotel pools I know are not any deeper than 6 feet at the most. Getting access to most larger pools after hours would mean burglary. Those involved probably had easier access to the training pool. Another reason I could think of is access to breathing equipment. Not everyone has thousands of dollars of scuba gear in the closet. It would be easier to use the equipment on site rather than try to smuggle it out without being caught.

BTW, would you mind giving the year and title of the Analog article? It's certainly not apparent on the link you gave.

Don't know why the link did not work right. I'll try it again. If it doesn't work, it was in the April 1990 issue, the name of the column was "The Three Dolphin Club" by G. Harry Stine.
http://analogsf.com/cgi-bin/searcheng.cgi

Loach
03-02-2004, 11:33 PM
Now I must apologize for responding to my own post. For some reason the link to the Analog site links you to their search page with the search field blank. This brings up all of the articles since 1980. If you go to their search function and type in "dolphin" the information will pop right up.

Thanks Cervaise for Cecil's column. I knew he had looked into the subject at some time. Thanks to sm:)e for another cite where this was mentioned, now I know it wasn't just me ;)

Loach
03-02-2004, 11:36 PM
Maybe because it was mentioned in both of the places I found it mentioned as where the first experiments took place.

Damn, what the hell kind of sentence is that? :smack: I should try proof reading

Exapno Mapcase
03-03-2004, 12:14 AM
Using Google to search on "The Three Dolphin Club" brought up Sex in Space (http://rfreitas.com/Astro/SexxxInSpace.htm), page filled with links to articles.

Sex in space: thin blue line keeps crews in check (http://taint.org/2001/09/04/053724a_mail.html) from The Times says:Harry Stine, a former Nasa technician, said that the agency had conducted experiments in the simulated weightlessness of a flotation
tank, but never in space itself. In his book Living in Space, Dr Stine, who died in 1997, said that Nasa staff at the Marshall Space Flight Centre in Huntsville, Alabama, had used a buoyancy tank that simulates low-gravity conditions to test the possibilities of weightless sex. “It was possible but difficult,” he said, “and was made easier when a third person assisted by holding one of the others
in place.”
The rest of the article squashed any thoughts of sex having occured in real space, though.

I could quote from these articles all night, but I'll stop with one more: 'Sex In Space' Author Defends Book (http://space.com/news/sex_in_space_000223.html)
It seems that one urban legend has become a cosmic myth.

SPACE.com has found that allegations in a newly published book that claims NASA conducted sex experiments on a space shuttle mission in 1996 may have originated from an internet parody dating back to the 1980s.

The book, The Final Mission, written by French astronomer Pierre Kohler, claims that scientists used elastic belts and inflatable tubes to test 10 sexual positions on a space shuttle mission in 1996. The allegations have spawned a media whirlwind, and drawn a categorical denial from NASA.

But the source for the book may be a parody posted on an internet newsgroup as early as 1989, as well as on various humor sites on the World Wide Web.

Dunderman
03-03-2004, 02:13 AM
The solution was to have a third person helping direct the thrust when needed. This was explained as being similar to how dolphins mate.
Bogus clue. Dolphins don't mate this way.

Loach
03-03-2004, 07:39 AM
Bogus clue. Dolphins don't mate this way.

Doesn't matter and I didn't ask (I did think about asking but didn't). The people involved weren't marine biologists and this happened before the Discovery channel. I'm sure they were standing around saying to each other "we can't just call it fucking in space", and someone said "I heard this thing about dolphins". Whether or not dolphins mate this way or if this is an urban legend, the phrase was someones attempt at being clever. I suspect there was a certain ammount of alcohol involved as well.

Olentzero
03-03-2004, 10:24 AM
Don't see why they need three people to do it. I would think retrocopulation (https://academicpursuits.us/classics/a3_215.html) while holding on to the woman's hips ought to solve the separation problem.

BMalion
03-03-2004, 10:39 AM
I remember a story years ago while working the Southern California Renaissance Faire. It was when one guy I knew supposedly had a "threesome" with 2 girls and the next morning the ladies went to a jewelry booth and bought him a little 3-dolphins-swimming-in-a-circle-gold pin. He wore it on his hat for some time. I asked what the pin was for and that's how I heard the story, seems it was a tradition among certain types. Ew

I don't ask people about their jewelry much anymore.

I know alot of SF writers and fans have cross-over with Renn-faire people.

Does that help?

Truth Seeker
03-03-2004, 11:10 AM
After thinking about it for 15 seconds I came up a couple reasons. You would need a pretty deep pool. Most private pools and all hotel pools I know are not any deeper than 6 feet at the most.

Not true. Plenty of private pools have deep ends.

In ground pools, like the name states are built into the ground. In ground pools can be built to allow for diving or not, depending on the depth. A diving pool typically needs to have a deep end depth of 8’6” or more, where typically, non-diving pools have a depth of 3’ to 5’6”.
http://kingtechnology.com/infostation/info521.htm

Anyway, what difference does it make? Six feet would be plenty.

The idea that NASA has been doing secret sex experiments in its swimming pool is ludicrious. I think we can say with absolute certainty that astronauts have had sex in swimming pools and that they've done so without using government equipment. If NASA were really keen on gathering such data, they could just ask the folks hanging around the water cooler.

Ace_Face
03-03-2004, 03:02 PM
There is no magical zero-g room.
OK, but what about a magical zero g-spot? THAT's the question.

Loach
03-04-2004, 01:52 PM
Truth Seeker please re-read the OP. No one is suggesting that NASA sanctioned any experiments. Not in the couple of accounts I have read and I did not say it in my original question.

If you know a lot of people who own pools that are over 8 feet deep with diving boards and scuba equipment then you run in different circles than I do. The only pools I know like that are olympic sized pools that are not in anyones backyard.

If you are standing on the bottom or have your head out of the water then the experiment could not possibily work. The only proper simulation would be if you are submerged and able to breathe with some sort of apparatus. Otherwise it would just be sex in a pool. Until the zero-g room is opened that is the best they could do next to waiting for a shuttle mission.

I don't know why people are getting hung up on the pool. I mentioned it because it was specifically mentioned in both of the sources I read. I am not trying to claim it happened I was asking for information. "I don't think they woulda done it in a pool" is not information.

If it did happen I figure it was probably thought of over over many beers. Either it happened or someone started a rumor as a joke. The only thing I have found out so far is that it is mentioned by other people in other sources and that several sources had close ties to NASA personnel. For those who took the trouble to look into it, thank you

scotandrsn
03-04-2004, 02:39 PM
Can't speak for Marshall, but I've seen (and had several conversations with the people who work at) what I assume to be basically the same setup at the Johnson Space Center, where it's known as the Neutral Bouyancy Laboratory.

The average person will float to the surface of a pool. This is positive bouyancy.

If you put so much weight on them that they sink to the bottom (at any speed), that is negative bouyancy.

If you adjust the weight just right, you get them to the point where they neither rise nor sink: neutral bouyancy.

The pool at Johnson is HUGE. Astronoauts get into it in full gear plus weights with full sized mock-ups of satellites and shuttles to practice and perfect whatever spacewalking they must do before they actaully blast off. The whole pool is riddled with cameras so they can be observed from every possible angle, for operations and safety issues.

If people were interested in "experimenting" with the pool under simulated weightless conditions without a spacesuit on, they'd need scuba gear and an enormous amount of weight strapped to their presumably scantily clad bodies. Obviously there are many obstacles to finding out what zero-g copulation would really be like under these circumstances. Plus you'd need enough for three people if everything went as you described.

OTOH, has anyone there been less interested in zero-g research so much as just wanting to screw in the world's biggest pool without all the apparatus? My sources never brought up the subject. You'd have to make sure no one was guarding the place or manning the control room for the numerous cameras (unless you were into that kind of thing; of course the pictures would have been all over the web by now).

Loach's point is well-taken, the business about the mating habits of dolphins could be the product of a fevered imagination of a mind that had no idea what it was talking about

... but the same could be said about the whole NASA story as well.

Whole thing sounds like crap to me.

Have two astronauts ever fooled around in space? i think it's likely its happened at some point.

Neil Armstrong: "That's one small thrust for man..." :D

Stan Doubt
03-04-2004, 03:40 PM
I'm surprised that nobody has chimed in with accounts actually doing it in a pool. This may be TMI, but I'll point out that, aside from a quick boink, sex while the genitals are submerged in a pool, spa, bathtub etc. gets uncomfortable very quickly because the bodies' natural lubricants are water soluble.

Truth Seeker
03-04-2004, 07:56 PM
If you know a lot of people who own pools that are over 8 feet deep with diving boards and scuba equipment then you run in different circles than I do. The only pools I know like that are olympic sized pools that are not in anyones backyard.
Apparently I do. I certainly don't run in the circles you're running in now. Regardless, I've provided you with an actual cite. There are plenty of pools around that are deeper than six feet. Whether your personal experience validates this fact is entirely irrelevant.

If you are standing on the bottom or have your head out of the water then the experiment could not possibily work. The only proper simulation would be if you are submerged and able to breathe with some sort of apparatus. Otherwise it would just be sex in a pool.
Just how tall would both partners have to be to be able to stand on the bottom of a six-foot deep pool with their heads above water while having sex? This is, in any event, a red herring. The issue isn't whether it is possible to have sex in a six-foot deep pool while standing on the bottom. The issue is whether it is possible to have sex in a six-foot deep pool while not standing on the bottom. Presumably, these intrepid aquanauts want to simulate zero-g sex.

I think this story has been pretty well debunked. So far what we have is, 1) NASA has a big swimming pool. 2) The swimming pool is full of equipment and cameras. 3) If you want to simulate zero-g sex, you don't need NASA's pool, many if not most home pools are suitable. 4) Dolphins don't mate that way.

Sounds to me like there's not much left to this story, apart from wishful thinking, that is.

Lynne_kilii
03-04-2004, 08:12 PM
*sob* I've seen dolphins having sex, in the wild, with a whole lot of other dolphins around. There's only two of them, I promise. It probably would have been less traumariffic had I not been twelve, but all in all, I try not to think about dophins making it.

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