If reports are to be believed, the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the deepest spot on earth, may soon have an alien visitor.
James Cameron, the director who has amassed a fortune transporting audiences to unbelievable worlds, is reportedly in the process of final preparations (and may have actually started) of diving 6.8 miles (roughly 36,000ft.) to the bottom of the Mariana.
If successful, the 57-year-old will hold the record for deepest solo dive in history – fulfilling a goal eight long years in the making.
“Jim is a remarkable guy who’s never trained as an engineer but has an intuitive grasp of engineering details that far surpass a lot of the professionals I’ve known,” retired U.S. Navy Captain Don Walsh told the UK Telegraph. “He hasn’t wasted a lot of time trumpeting to the world, ‘We’re going to do this.’ He wants to make sure he’s got it right and then he’ll tell the world. He’s a pretty high-profile person and he doesn’t want to screw up royally.”
At 35,800 feet there is over 1085 atmospheres of pressure, translating to 16,000 lbs\sq in, or 2.3 million pounds of pressure per square foot – so yea, there’s no room for error.
Much as he’s done for the film industry, Cameron is also leaving a transformative mark on the field of deep sea submarines. His “vertical torpedo” sub is an innovative design all his own – and one that’s surprised man in the diving community.
“He’s done something radical,” Peter Girguis, a biological oceanographer at Harvard told the Times. “He’s set aside the conventional wisdom.”
According to the site, the axis of his 24-foot-long craft is upright rather than horizontal, speeding the plunge. “His goal is to fall and rise as quickly as possible so he can maximize his time investigating the dark seabed. He wants to prowl the bottom for six hours,” they report.
While Cameron’s crew set sail for the trench on Monday evening, there have yet to be any additional reports of if or when the record-setting dive might take place. We’ll keep you updated as we hear more.
For now, check out this new animation courtesy of National Geographic, a sponsor of the dive, showing Cameron’s planned descent below.