Person of Interest

‘Captain Nemo’ Dies

His name was Jacques Piccard, but they called him “Captain Nemo” after the Jules Verne 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea hero. Exploration ran in the family. August, his father, was the first to take a hot air balloon into the stratosphere. His son Bertrand was the first to pilot a nonstop air balloon flight around the world. Piccard’s career took him to NASA, where he worked on pioneering submarines, and he also developed the Trieste bathyscaphe with his father; a vessel, as the Independent put it, that enabled humans “to descent to then inconceivable depths.” He undertook his record-breaking dive in 1960 with US Navy Lieutenant Don Walsh. They dived 35,800 feet into the Mariana Trench and, Piccard said, “We were astounded to find higher marine life forms down there at all.” Their discovery later helped prohibit oceanic nuclear waste dumps.