"There's a poetry in the materials we use to construct our world of artifacts; it speaks of our long history as a technological species."
The rifters, or divers working on the deep sea rift, have been surgically modified to adapt them to their new environment. One such modification is a device that extracts oxygen from sea water.
Getting oxygen from the surrounding water is the best way to have an unlimited air supply. The history of "rebreathing" devices has a rather checkered history. For example, a Frenchmen named Freminet invented a device that recycled the exhaled air in 1772. Unfortunately, his invention failed to fully recharge the air with oxygen; he died from lack of oxygen after twenty minutes.
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