VIDEO: James Cameron Hitting Bottom (of Ocean)

James Cameron broke a world record on Wednesday, plunging five miles below the surface of the Pacific Ocean and eclipsing the earlier four-mile mark held by a Japanese crew. But the filmmaker is not done: Later this month, in a 43-inch wide submersible christened Deepsea Challenger, Cameron will attempt to be only the third man to reach the deepest point on the planet — and the first to do it alone. Seems like a long way to go to promote Titanic 3D, but hey.

Of course, previous Cameron expeditions have taken the Oscar-winner to shallower sea depths, but this time he means it:

He built his miniature submarine secretly in Australia, and already it has outdone all other watercraft in its ability to ferry people through the deep’s crushing pressures. As with the birth of the private space rocket industry, where commercial companies are building ships to take astronauts aloft, the debut of Mr. Cameron’s submarine signals the rising importance of entrepreneurs in the global race to advance science and technology. [...]

He said the vehicle over all had many cameras but only one thick porthole, its inner diameter three inches. He described the craft as a “vertical torpedo,” meant to fall and rise quickly so as to maximize time for exploring the seabed.

“You’d be an idiot not to be apprehensive, but I trust the design,” Mr. Cameron said as he contemplated his impending dive. “You’re going into one of the most unforgiving places on earth.”

But as Brian Lam adds, it's OK! If only because, ahem: "James’s breath vapor and sweat will condense on a metal surface where it is collected into a bag; he can drink it in an emergency." Right. And then what souvenirs would we be left with? Xenophyophores, the bottom-dwelling "mysterious life forms [that] consist of a single cell and appear able to grow to the size of a fist"? EBay does not approve.

Anyway, here's video:

[NYT, The Scuttlefish via The Awl]


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