Director Goes for Deep-Sea Record

    This February 2012 photo, provided by National Geographic, shows explorer and filmmaker James Cameron emerging from the hatch of DEEPSEA CHALLENGER during testing of the submersible in Jervis Bay, south of Sydney, Australia. Earth's lost frontier, the deepest part of the oceans where the pressure is like three SUVs sitting on your little tow, is about to be explored first-hand. It's been more than half a century since man dared to plunge that deep. Earth's lost frontier is about to be explored firsthand after more than half a century. It's a mission to the deepest part of the ocean, so deep that the pressure is the equivalent of three SUVs sitting on your toe. And it's being launched by the rich and famous. In the next several days, James Cameron, the director of “Titanic,” “Avatar” and “The Abyss,” plans to dive nearly 7 miles deep in a one-man sub he helped design. The location is the Mariana Trench in the South Pacific. “It's the last frontier for science and exploration on this planet,” Cameron said. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen, National Geographic)

    Mark Thiessen / AP Photo

    James Cameron–yes, that James Cameron, the one who gave us dreadlocked 3-D space eco-mystics in Avatar–is about to go where only two men have ever gone before. After developing a revolutionary submersible (a version of a submarine) behind a veil of secrecy for eight years in Australia (could this sound more cinematic?), Cameron announced this month that he plans to plunge nearly seven miles down into the Pacific Ocean's Challenger Deep, the deepest known point in the ocean. “It’s a great idea, a tremendous idea,” said Alfred S. McLaren, a former U.S. Navy submariner, about Cameron’s 24-foot, bullet-shaped submersible. In tests for his ambitious dive, Cameron has plumbed the ocean’s depth to more than five miles, setting a modern record. His ultimate challenge, however, will take him more than 6.8 miles below sea level, a dive that will require Cameron to occupy the submersible for about nine hours. Two U.S. Navy men are the only people who have made the journey before.

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