Sorry, Virgin. The first successful solo dive back to the bottom of the Mariana Trench was completed yesterday (technically on Monday, Guam time) by none other than filmmaker James Cameron. The joint effort between National Geographic, Rolex, and Cameron sent the director of Avatar and Titanic to the deepest point on Earth, some 35,756 feet below the ocean's surface, in a custom built submersible known as the Deepsea Challenger.
If you thought space was the only frontier Virgin has an interest in tackling, you’ve been missing out on Virgin Oceanic’s drive to pilot the first manned submersible all the way to the very bottom of the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Trench--and thus dive deeper than any solo human has ever dived before. It’s a cool story that is still ongoing, and PopSci favorite IEEE Spectrum has an amazing semi-long read from its March issue up online today.
By Juliet EilperinPosted 06.16.2011 at 10:17 am 10 Comments
In 2005, Eric Stroud, the managing partner of Shark Defense, a New Jersey company that specializes in shark-repelling technologies, happened to be carrying a rare-earth magnet as he passed a tank full of sharks. The sharks fled, and Stroud took note. After further tests, Stroud and his colleagues found that sharks that came within 20 inches of rare-earth magnets similar to the one he had been carrying would consistently swim away.
When Sir Richard Branson unveiled the Virgin Oceanic submarine, he noted that "More men have been to the moon than have been down further [underwater] than 20,000 feet." To that end, he and an explorer pal will take the submarine to the deepest trenches of the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, Southern, and Arctic Oceans, feeding first-of-its-kind data and video to Google, to be added to Google's Earth and Maps databases. The deep sea is truly the final frontier on our planet, and Branson wants to make it as accessible as possible.
Biologists have just discovered two new species of freshwater stingray in the Amazon rainforest, informally christening them "pancake stingrays" for their distinct IHOPian appearance (see below). Naturally, one of their first orders of business was to x-ray one of the specimens, the unearthly result you see above.
Imagine if every time you needed to officially identify yourself you had to be sedated and knocked out cold. This might sound only slightly less stressful than checking through security at the airport, but for animals being tracked by wildlife authorities and researchers it's a regularity that is not only stressful, but potentially harmful.
Since BP's Deepwater Horizon rig exploded into one of the worst man-made ecological disasters in history, one big question has remained unanswered: Just how big of a mess is it? While BP asserts there's no way to know, marine experts say that if the oil giant would but release more video from its submersible ROVs and provide a little data on the well itself, they could deduce the magnitude of the leak, as well as inform the effort to plug the leaking well pipe.