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The Tech Behind James Cameron's Trench-Bound Submarine

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the harnessing-thousands-of-seahorses dept.

Transportation 111

MrSeb writes "Yesterday, James Cameron completed a five-mile-deep test dive in the Pacific Ocean, in preparation for a seven-mile (36,000ft, 11,000m) dive to Challenger Deep, in the Mariana Trench; the deepest place in the world. We don't know when the actual dive will occur, but it will probably be soon. At 36,000ft, the pressure exerted on the hull is 16,000 psi; over 1000 atmospheres, and equivalent to eight tons pushing down on every square inch of your body. Understandably, building a submersible (and equipment, such as cameras, motors, and batteries) that can withstand that kind of pressure, and then safely return to the surface, is difficult. This article digs into the technology required to get Cameron safely to the bottom of the ocean, film some 3D, IMAX footage, and then return to the surface."

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Avatar (0, Troll)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 2 years ago | (#39295301)

Avatar sucked.
It just really, really sucked.

Re:Avatar (4, Funny)

Forty Two Tenfold (1134125) | more than 2 years ago | (#39295459)

It did, but they got enough Unobtainium to build this sub.

Re:Avatar (4, Funny)

slew (2918) | more than 2 years ago | (#39296395)

It did, but they got enough Unobtainium to build this sub.

Actually the alchemy that Mr Cameron performed was to transform 3D hypium and virutal Unobtainum into gold by using a motion picture catalyst derived from a pocahontas precursor...

Re:Avatar (3, Funny)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#39295509)

Blue people make good soldiers, when led by white officers...

Re:Avatar (4, Funny)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 2 years ago | (#39296823)

Great. The last thing we need is an army of evil smurfs led by Gargamel

Re:Avatar (-1, Troll)

Spy Handler (822350) | more than 2 years ago | (#39296519)

I've found that people with an IQ of over 100 generally think Avatar sucked, while those with an IQ less than 100 (or age of less than 14) liked it.

Re:Avatar (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39297415)

I've found that people with an IQ over 120 generally think Avatar was an okay (not particularly bad or amazing) movie with pretty good visuals and a rehashed plot that was still decent as it has been for many previous stories, while those with an IQ between 100 and 120 (or age below 25) think it sucked.

Re:Avatar (2)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39298357)

I'm offended that you left me out of your evaluation! All studies have to have an upper limit otherwise they are meaningless.

Those of us with sub-100 IQs are offndd and also wonder WTF are yopu talking about.

I like boobies.

Re:Avatar (2)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#39297691)

I've found that nerds estimate people's IQ's by what movies they watch.

Re:Avatar (5, Insightful)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 2 years ago | (#39297731)

I've found that people with an IQ of over 80 think that judging people's IQ by the movies they watch says more about the observer than the observed.

Re:Avatar (1)

mug funky (910186) | more than 2 years ago | (#39296537)

i wonder who modded this troll? this is the most accurate and concise post i've seen here today! and in a first post, no less.

Re:Avatar (2)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#39296603)

But it was funnier than Titanic.

hmm... (0)

zlives (2009072) | more than 2 years ago | (#39295309)

some old guy did it already...

units? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39295399)

How does one reconcile 16,000 psi with 8,000 tons per square inch?
Seems something is off.

Also pretty sure no human bodies will be experiencing that pressure

Re:units? (4, Informative)

Forty Two Tenfold (1134125) | more than 2 years ago | (#39295427)

Seems something is off.

Yeah, seems someone read "8" and then added three orders of magnitude. 1 ton = 2000 pounds.

Re:units? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39295761)

It doesn't matter since the pressure is not the hard part. It's a known constant factor which can be engineered against and for which the expenses can be charged to the client. It's unpredictable things like possibly snagging cables that make it an adventure.

Re:units? (3, Insightful)

tsa (15680) | more than 2 years ago | (#39296317)

Who cares. Those units don't exist anyway. How many pascal are we talking about?

Re:units? (1)

cvtan (752695) | more than 2 years ago | (#39296639)

Should be 110 300 000Pa

Re:units? (4, Informative)

FridayBob (619244) | more than 2 years ago | (#39296377)

... Also pretty sure no human bodies will be experiencing that pressure

On the contrary, it's most likely that they have and will ... though not while alive.

Some years ago I was into technical diving and learned that the deepest dive ever for a human was a simulated one in a pressure chamber. Using a special, and no-doubt constantly changing mixture of gasses that included plenty of helium, they were able to crank up the pressure to a simulated depth of about 750 meters (only about 7% of the Challenger Deep) before the "diver" could go no further. Apparently, his nervous system was no longer able to function properly beyond that point... just because of the pressure. His simulated ascent, by the way, took something like a month.

I was somewhat disappointed to learn all this, because it meant that a really deep dive using a liquid rebreather, like in The Abyss (1989, James Cameron), would never be possible.

Re:units? (1)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39298101)

I think the issue here is pressure in the lungs, not percentage of gases breathed. Liquids are (mostly) incompressible.

You should read up (5, Informative)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | more than 2 years ago | (#39298245)

Diving breathing issues aren't about gas pressure, but about saturation of blood and tissue with gasses. At higher pressure, your blood and tissue take up way more gasses than they do at surface pressure. Therefor, if you dive deep, you will become equivalent to a soda bottle. If you surface too quick, it's like someone shakes you and then takes the cap of the bottle. All of a sudden, there will be bubbles in your entire body. Those bubbles will kill your (brain) cells, by oxygen deprivation.

At higher pressures, gasses that are normally "inert" to the human body tissue, will form chemical bonds with your tissues, making the gasses poisonous. That is why there are different gas mixtures used for high pressure (deep) dives.

Even if you can overcome this by using liquids to replace the gasses, it appears that your nerve tissue will have electrical/chemical problems transmitting signals at about 750 meters (75 times atmospheric pressure).

Re:You should read up (2)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39298283)

I guess I stand corrected, thanks.

I wonder how often Slashdotters admit they were wrong.

Re:You should read up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39299455)

At higher pressures, gasses that are normally "inert" to the human body tissue, will form chemical bonds with your tissues, making the gasses poisonous. That is why there are different gas mixtures used for high pressure (deep) dives.

Even if you can overcome this by using liquids to replace the gasses, it appears that your nerve tissue will have electrical/chemical problems transmitting signals at about 750 meters (75 times atmospheric pressure).

It means high pressure biochemistry (and high pressure chemistry in general) is "alien" (and therefore extremely interesting) to us. I suppose we could learn much from studying it, but we need advanced teleoperation devices and labs to extract specimen and manipulate them in pressurized tanks in our onshore scientific facilities.

Re:units? (1)

flyneye (84093) | more than 2 years ago | (#39299529)

Also pretty sure no human bodies will be experiencing that pressure

          That made me think of a question burning in my mind. It is inconceivable that the trench would not be a spot for dramatic body dumping or suicides or just plain old fashioned accidents. What does a body look like under all that pressure?
Also, it seems when someone may want something besides a body lost to the world, that would be a good place to drop it. Maybe they'll find some odd treasure.
Enquiring minds want to know...

Re:units? (2)

FridayBob (619244) | more than 2 years ago | (#39300661)

... What does a body look like under all that pressure? ...

Pretty much the same as at the surface.

The notion that everything gets "crushed" at great depths is a common misconception. Submarines (and submersibles) run the risk of getting crushed at depth because they usually include cavities of air held at a constant surface pressure. Therefore, the deeper they go, the more their internal pressure gets out of equilibrium with the ambient pressure and the greater the risk becomes of violent equalization.

On the other hand, not much happens to a human body (or any other kind) as it sinks to the bottom of an ocean trench. As it descends any air cavities soon shrink to nothing and that's about it. Perhaps its flesh and bones will be compressed and even shrink slightly, as the article suggests happens to Cameron's submersible and even the water around it at that depth, but it won't be by much and I don't see why our imaginary sinking body would not still be quite recognizable once it reaches the bottom. All the way the increasing pressures in and around it will be in equilibrium, so there's never anything to force it out of shape.

Re:units? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39300059)

Liquid rebreathers (if plausible, possible, etc) do not share the same depth limit as gas breathing systems. When breathing a gas, you need to keep the pressure inside of the lung at the same level as the ambient pressure and therefore have to breathe gas at an increasingly higher pressure the deeper you go. If your lungs are instead filled with a liquid, the pressure of your breathing mix does not need to be increased since liquid is (more or less) incompressible.

Do not mix imperial with metric in this one!! (1)

TheDarkMaster (1292526) | more than 2 years ago | (#39299545)

The results will be really implosive!

Cameron (0, Troll)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 2 years ago | (#39295443)

Am I the only one that read the title and thought to themselves, "Not him again." This guy isn't as much about real science as he is about using science to grab headlines and then not sticking around to follow through. Remember how he was going to single-handedly fix the Horizon oil disaster off the coast of Louisiana? Never happened. Actually, not a single thing this guy has made headlines for has actually panned out.

Re:Cameron (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39295499)

No, just the media hero worshiping again. Still there are worse people that make headlines.

Re:Cameron (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39295789)

Indeed. When he comments that his projects are accurate [paullee.com] in the hope that it will silence critics, and then is proven to be demonstrably wrong, it makes we wonder what else this high-flying egomaniac is going to claim next. James Cameron discovers the Higgs Boson? James Cameron travels faster than light? James Cameron travels back in time...to find out that he is God?

Re:Cameron (4, Informative)

citizenr (871508) | more than 2 years ago | (#39295821)

Remember how he was going to single-handedly fix the Horizon oil disaster off the coast of Louisiana? Never happened. Actually, not a single thing this guy has made headlines for has actually panned out.

Cameron != Kevin Costner you retard

Re:Cameron (4, Funny)

tsa (15680) | more than 2 years ago | (#39296321)

Didn't Cameron find the Titanic?

Re:Cameron (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39296555)

Didn't Cameron find the Titanic?

No.

Re:Cameron (2)

Spy Handler (822350) | more than 2 years ago | (#39296573)

he made a MOVIE about Titanic. He didn't find it. The guy who did was Robert Ballard.

Cameron's just a guy who makes movies. Some of them good (Terminator 2), some of them shit (Avatar). He ain't King of the World, no matter what he thinks.

Re:Cameron (1)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39298157)

Well, I for one, am just relieved that at least someone is exploring where we might have to go after the megadisaster of Climate Change kills us all in 250 years.

Queue the kooks who "want to get off this planet" and have far-seeing abilities based on computer games.

Re:Cameron (1)

rocket rancher (447670) | more than 2 years ago | (#39303049)

he made a MOVIE about Titanic. He didn't find it. The guy who did was Robert Ballard.

Cameron's just a guy who makes movies. Some of them good (Terminator 2), some of them shit (Avatar). He ain't King of the World, no matter what he thinks.

Well, Cameron "gets" technology. He's raised the bar a few times when it comes to deploying advanced video capture technologies to create *great* FX. He also *gets* storytelling (can't believe you left "Aliens" off!) which is something that makes all of his films eminently watchable.

Re:Cameron (1)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 2 years ago | (#39296939)

No. It was found in 1985 by a joint American-French expedition.

As far as filming it, Cameron *may* have been the first to do so.

Re:Cameron (1)

aakkuan (2591459) | more than 2 years ago | (#39297633)

actually cameron revisited titanic... he made a documentary some years after the movie by descending down to the sunken ship..

Re:Cameron (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39300067)

I can anonymously say that Cameron did quite a bit for the Horizon oil disaster, including getting the same technology that he used on the Titanic down to the Horizon.

Re:Cameron (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39295933)

Did you forget about SpaceShipTwo and all that [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:Cameron (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39296015)

Remember how he offered to help with the Horizon oil disaster off the coast of Louisiana? Never happened. BP said they didn't need his help.

Fixed that for you.

To answer your question, yes, you likely are the only one since you don't really know much about the topic you're blasting us with your opinion about.

girlintraining (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39296067)

girlintraining needs more training.

Re:Cameron (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39296115)

i thought kevin Costner was behind the Louisiana thing? Anyway, am sure making a billion dollar movie, leaving the scene and coming back to make a 2 billion dollar movieis headline enough. So u were saying?

Re:Cameron (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39296197)

Just like all the wild promises of the Space Age. Not a single one of those panned out either. Yet Space Nuttery is *worshipped* around here. Why?

Hard? (3, Insightful)

kurt555gs (309278) | more than 2 years ago | (#39295453)

Isn't this 1961 technology we're talking about? Remember the Treste!

Re:Hard? (4, Informative)

Caerdwyn (829058) | more than 2 years ago | (#39295481)

Indeed, we do remember the Trieste [wikipedia.org] .

Just like going to the moon... something we did in the 60's, we've basically forgotten how to do for the lack of will to do it. So we have to reinvent the wheel, only this time in a more risk-averse environment (and therefore far more expensive to accomplish).

Re:Hard? (4, Insightful)

yodleboy (982200) | more than 2 years ago | (#39295569)

why does the Trieste come up every time this new vehicle is the topic? The Trieste was an underwater elevator and no more. You went down, you saw a sliver of the bottom through tiny portals and you went up. It's less exploration and more "i got there first". Deepsea Challenger can actually, you know, MOVE. Sure they could have sent a robot, and maybe that gets you all hot and steamy. For me, it's nice to know that people are willing to explore somewhere now that manned space flight is on it's way out the door.

Re:Hard? (2, Informative)

fnj (64210) | more than 2 years ago | (#39296081)

Idiot. Trieste was self contained and (barely) self mobile horizontally, just like this thing. This thing can go up and down faster; and it has better batteries. And it uses syntactic foam for buoyancy instead of a thin hull filled with gasoline. That's basically it.

Don't get me wrong; it's an improvement, and I'm happy to see the project under way. But both vehicles are minimally mobile down there. We're talking a fraction of a kilometer per hour.

Re:Hard? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39296307)

Both of you are idiots. "portals"? It's PORTHOLES you dimwit, and "syntactic" foam? What the HELL?

Re:Hard? (1)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 2 years ago | (#39297747)

A porthole is a specific type of portal.

But yeah, I've got no defence for syntactic foam, unless they pureed a ton of style guides to make the thing.

Re:Hard? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39300701)

Stop with this talk about syntactic foam already, please you insensitive clod. My girlfriend is 100% syntactic foam and this issue is really a delicate subject between us.

Re:Hard? (1)

tsa (15680) | more than 2 years ago | (#39296345)

We will probably build better Lunar modules too if/when we go back to the moon.

Re:Hard? (4, Informative)

yodleboy (982200) | more than 2 years ago | (#39296487)

idiot? wow. did you bother going to the expedition site [deepseachallenge.com] ? it says all over the place they will be using the sub's ability to move horizontally @ up to 3 knots while to explore various areas for up to 6 hours. That sounds more than fractions of a kph or minimally mobile. maybe they are overly optimistic, but it's a big improvement on the original Trieste.

Re:Hard? (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#39301071)

You don't seem to know exactly how slow 3 knots are. 3 nautical miles in an hour, or about 3.5 "real" miles per hour. That's 12% faster than the average human walking speed.

Re:Hard? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39302099)

The Trieste moved horizontally at 1 knot. Three knots isn't exactly revolutionary after fifty years.

Re:Hard? (2)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#39296541)

why does the Trieste come up every time this new vehicle is the topic?

Because it's the obvious thing to do. Why wouldn't one bring up the short history of exploration at this depth?

The Trieste was an underwater elevator and no more.

Completely irrelevant.

For me, it's nice to know that people are willing to explore somewhere now that manned space flight is on it's way out the door.

To the contrary, manned space flight is just beginning. And for much the same reason as the Trieste is compared unfavorably by you to the Deepsea Challenger.

Re:Hard? (5, Informative)

hey! (33014) | more than 2 years ago | (#39297067)

I suspect you are confusing a bathy*scape* with a bathy*sphere*.

Trieste could operate submerged 24 hours and could move freely at a speed of 1 kt. It was succesfully used to search for the wreck of the USS Thresher (SSN-593), which it found at a depth of 8400 ft, so obviously Trieste was a very capable boat.

In it's famous Challenger Deep mission it spent 20 minutes on the bottom made at least one important scientific discovery: sole and flounder swimming. Before that it was believed that vertebrate life could not survive at such pressures. Not a bad scientific haul for an 8h 23m work day.

The bathy*sphere* was no scientific slouch either, making significant contributions to both marine biology and physics.

Lack of will, or lack of need to prove oneself? (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 2 years ago | (#39299145)

I think some people have the wrong view on why we don't do things that we have done before. The simplest reason is, been there, done that.

As in, the challenge has been met. Now lets find a new challenge. Is there a compelling reason to go to the floor of the ocean? The moon? Yeah it would be cool and there is good science in both, but is there a need.

Back in the fifties and sixties, if not the seventies, it was about East versus West. Funny how an arms race turned into a game of one up man ship along peaceful lines.

Re:Lack of will, or lack of need to prove oneself? (1)

rocket rancher (447670) | more than 2 years ago | (#39303193)

I think some people have the wrong view on why we don't do things that we have done before. The simplest reason is, been there, done that.

As in, the challenge has been met. Now lets find a new challenge. Is there a compelling reason to go to the floor of the ocean? The moon? Yeah it would be cool and there is good science in both, but is there a need.

Back in the fifties and sixties, if not the seventies, it was about East versus West. Funny how an arms race turned into a game of one up man ship along peaceful lines.

Heh. I'll try to remember that when mass drivers in orbit have replaced ground-based nukes as our species' self-termination option.

Why not a wireless waldo sub? (2)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 2 years ago | (#39296311)

The biggest problem with remotes that I see is the freaking long cable. But why couldn't they lower for want of a better term, a wireless access point to the bottom with a submersible and then release the sub when it gets down there. Then you would have real time control and the freedom of a tetherless vehicle. Only the access point would be connected to the surface. I am assuming it is better to put the access point down there because that much water would interfere with the control signals if they tried to wirelessly remote it from the surface.

Since the distance isn't as great, a waldo [wikipedia.org] sub wouldn't have the same latency/lag that something in space or even a military drone aircraft would experience. As well, since the view ports on a manned craft will be so limited in such an armoured creation, the view from a waldo sub would be pretty much the same thing, if not better. If they really wanted to have the experience of living head to armpit in a tiny space a cockroach would have trouble slipping through, they could make an aircraft-like simulator that they could all cram themselves into uncomfortably and pretend to actually be in the real wirelessly controlled vehicle. It could turn a flip and all that. They could even spray them with a high pressure hose every time the accidentally bump into something with the real vehicle.

Too expensive (1)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | more than 2 years ago | (#39298323)

Losing subs because of a slight malfunction costs too much. It may in theory be a perfect solution, but the chances of the sub getting lost versus the costs of building one, currently make it an unprofitable risk. Even with the significant chance of snapping the umbilical, that is still cheaper than risk losing unmanned crafts. There are frequent stories of research vessels losing an unmanned sub, usually costing six figures or more. You don't hear much about commercial vessels losing subs, but the oil and glass-fiber-cable-on-the-ocean-floor companies have plenty of experience with risk calculations and choosing the cheapest solution to get the job done. They default to cable operation, unless they can't avoid untethered. In that case, they usually outsource the job. The military and secret services know a thing or two about this as well, but won't tell you, even if you ask.

This all being said, it's about time people come up with a more reliable way to control and propel unmanned submarines. Using some form of transmitter station lowered to some place close where the sub is, might make getting signals through easier. However, water isn't as uniform a transmission medium as you might think. Currents and temperature differences make layers that can be reflective to radio and sound waves. It would be kind of embarrassing to lose a submarine because you crossed an inversion and your signal wasn't getting through.

pix or it didnt happen (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39295507)

pix or it didnt happen

Onion (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39295605)

Um, maybe it's not this simple, but...

Lets say you have a submarine with a metal shell that can withstand the pressure at 1000 feet below sea level. (For simplicity, call it a pressure of '1000'.). You can lower it only that far into the water before the pressure exceeds the amount it can handle, and the shell collapses. Okay. Now, what if you place that shell inside an slightly larger one? Lower them both to, say 999 feet, then open a valve to let the water in between the shells. Close the valve, and drop the shells another 999 feet. The inner shell has the pressure of 999 pressing in, which it can withstand. But that 999 water also presses out. The outer shell then has 999 pressing out and 1998 pressing in, a net of 999 pressing in, which it can withstand.

Repeat with however many layers you need, and you should be able to go down to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, no?

Re:Onion (5, Insightful)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 2 years ago | (#39295723)

Heh, you're funny.

So to go down to 10,000 feet below sea level, you'd essentially need ten shells, each with a valve, with each shell becoming a point of failure. And that's more of an ideal situation, not taking into account how you're gonna get shit in and out of the vessel.

I work in this industry(shoutout to DeepSea Power and Light, here in San Diego), and we used pressurized oil to add structural integrity to certain electronic components. In fact, it was even mentioned in the article.

You could have one onion layer of super-high pressurized oil, but it would essentially behave like a solid which could be pushed into the inner shell. Shit, why not, oh, just have one shell designed to withstand the pressure? Or, better yet, fill the whole vessel with oil pressurized to 1000 bar? That'll show those damn skeptics.

Re:Onion (3, Interesting)

tragedy (27079) | more than 2 years ago | (#39296013)

A few problems with that approach. Among other things, I don't think you'd want an incompressible (or at least difficult to compress) fluid between the outer and inner shell. If it's "pushing out" on the outer shell, then it's also pushing in on the inner shell. Not to mention that you actually want to be able to see out of the thing with a window. Given the complexity of a window and how well our cameras work these days, the window represents a whole lot of complex engineering for very little benefit, but if you're going to have a manned craft, you might as well have a window, otherwise you have to shrug your shoulders and mumble when someone asks you why you bothered to actually go down there rather than spend that engineering money on a telepresence system you could operate from a ship on the surface or even from the comfort of home. So, if you need a window, you would have to have a window in every layer of your system and figure out a very complex system with super-high precision optics that work properly even when the high pressure has warped their shape. Then there's your connections between the controls in the inner part of the sub and all the equipment outside. I imagine the sub has two or more power systems with one or more for the cockpit and one or more living at outside pressure for the outside of the sub and with all the equipment outside the cockpit controlled "wirelessly" (or using the whole cockpit hull for a "wire" anyway). Having nested shells is going to require such a system to be very complicated and to be multi-layered as well, with each layer presenting another point of failure. Overall, you're better off in just about every way if your multiple shells are all merged into one shell.

Essentially, the only special technology you need for a human to survive to that depth is a thick enough shell around them. Nothing technologically amazing or any new ideas needed. Having a well sealed hatch and a well-sealed window are the more complicated parts, since those may not deform evenly with the rest of the shell, but even those aren't really hugely complex engineering problems. The trickier problems are getting all the stuff that needs to survive _outside_ the shell to survive at that pressure and to not explode from internal pressure back up at sea-level. Every single little part needs to considered,and not just mechanically since, at that pressure, materials may have altered chemical and electrical properties. The cockpit is simple and well-understood by comparison.

For some reason I'm not quite clear on, your suggestion has made me think of _Star Trek IV_, when Scotty trades the formula for transparent aluminium for plexiglass to make the aquarium for the whales since plexiglass is the best substitute for transparent aluminium. I still to this day have not been able to fathom why they couldn't just use regular, non-transparent aluminium, or whatever metal the Klingon ships inner structure was made from to make their tank. Why did it need to be transparent? I don't know and I don't know why this conversation so strongly reminds me of that.

Re:Onion (2)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#39296189)

I still to this day have not been able to fathom why they couldn't just use regular, non-transparent aluminium, or whatever metal the Klingon ships inner structure was made from to make their tank. Why did it need to be transparent? I don't know and I don't know why this conversation so strongly reminds me of that.

I've wondered this myself. I think it has to do with what happens when the whales suddenly find themselves inside a dark, enclosed space. They are used to an enclosure, so that wouldn't be an issue, but a non-transparent one might. Of course, Spock was supposed to have mind-melded to tell them it wouldn't be an issue. But I think the idea is without being able to see someone they know, they might freak out. And several pissed-off whales in an enclosed and not terribly strong space traveling through the vacuum of space at warp 9+ isn't a recipe for success.

Re:Onion (1)

Zlotnick (74376) | more than 2 years ago | (#39296625)

Because then you wouldn't have had the scene where the audience gets to see the whales transported to the tanks.

To which you might say -- why didn't they just use shields to hold the water/whale solution in place?

To which I say that's not a very interesting time-travelly solution, and smacks of the "reverse the polarity and run it through the deflector beam" panacea.

Re:Onion (1)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 2 years ago | (#39298035)

For some reason I'm not quite clear on, your suggestion has made me think of _Star Trek IV_, when Scotty trades the formula for transparent aluminium for plexiglass to make the aquarium for the whales since plexiglass is the best substitute for transparent aluminium. I still to this day have not been able to fathom why they couldn't just use regular, non-transparent aluminium, or whatever metal the Klingon ships inner structure was made from to make their tank. Why did it need to be transparent? I don't know and I don't know why this conversation so strongly reminds me of that.

Because....... it's a movie?

The average movie goer is not a terribly sophisticated person. Just slightly smarter than the average person watching a commercial. Keep in mind, that average is carefully calculated by some very smart people in Hollywood that understand the lowest common denominator and how to use that as an average. I know, but try to keep up.

Most people will think of whales and where to put them, and that means an aquarium, no different than gold fish. Aquariums have transparent sides to them so you can see the little fishies. Suspending disbelief would be shattered in that movie without the transparent walls.

Going back in time in a beat up POS Klingon Warbird? Nope.

Having to go back in time because some aliens, who act like they are drunk belligerent assholes, who you have never seen before, and are looking for their girlfriend in your apartment at 2am, refuse to leave till they speak to the "whales" of all creatures? Nope. Just peachy.

That Spock, with that POS Klingon Warbird's massive computing power (these are barbarians remember), can make the "calculations" for "Time Warp"? Of course not. Let's not be silly.

Aquarium walls we can't see through? Hold on... this movie is bullshit. :)

Re:Onion (1)

DarthVain (724186) | more than 2 years ago | (#39300805)

Because if you use non-transparent aluminum you can't see the fucking whales and what kind of plot device would staring at a metal wall be! :)

Re:Onion (1)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 2 years ago | (#39296097)

I'd say it's not that simple. Being liquid, water is not going to be compressible enough to matter in this case, and off hand I'd guess (maybe someone can do the numbers if they want) by the time you hit your first 1000 the water is going to be about as compressed as its going to get, which at sea level is not at its freezing point by the way... it reaches it densest at about 4C, any colder it starts forming ice which is less dense than water and why you can't normally squeeze it solid (I say normally because I can't remember how they determined all the different crystal phases [wikipedia.org] water can have other than hexagonal... I don't think it involved pressure but may have). In any case we know it is liquid water right down to the bottom so we can assume for practical purposes that it is squeezed as dense as it can be by the time we get to any sort of depth; and I would give a WAG that 1000 feet down would meet that criteria. So you can make your matryoshka [wikipedia.org] sub, but the water on the outer shell will press with full pressure, transferring full pressure via the incompressible water interlayer to the next shell, which will transfer full pressure to the next, etc. Unless the shells themselves cumulatively serve to act as an even thicker shell, which is probably better done without the water in between.

Re:Onion (1)

dilvish_the_damned (167205) | more than 2 years ago | (#39296459)

I suspect what your trying to suggest is a thicker shell, approaching that which is required to withstand the pressure. I think you can dispense with putting water in it.

Re:Onion (2)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 2 years ago | (#39297987)

I have a feeling that you are the one who works at ACME and is responsible for all of Wile E Coyote's (Super Genius) failures.

Re:Onion (1)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39298315)

I seem to recall that it was named, "Mariana's Trench" at one time. I posit that the Marianas of the world got together and had the apostrophe removed [angryflower.com] . Because, well, you know, like, oh, nevermind...

Re:Onion (1)

Solandri (704621) | more than 2 years ago | (#39298785)

It's been over a decade since I worked on this stuff. I had to look up the formula again [codecogs.com] . The stress inside a spherical shell in compression is equal to the (pressure x diameter) / (4 x thickness).

The diameter term on top means that your multi-shell design will actually use more metal than simply making a single metal sphere thick enough to withstand the target pressure. Essentially, the optimized form of your multi-shell design is one in which each sphere fits perfectly inside the next, and there is no water in between - i.e. a single solid sphere. If you have to make the outer spheres bigger to allow some water in between, that increases required diameter, which also increases the required thickness, both of which increases the amount of metal required.

Also, these things are not pretty when they implode. Yes your multi-shell design spreads out the risk from implosion by breaking up the pressure gradient into multiple parts. But the energy released by an implosion is pressure x volume. So since your design (assuming the same interior passenger volume as a single solid sphere) requires a larger outermost sphere than a single-sphere design, it's actually holding back a greater amount of potential implosion energy. You'd think multiple smaller shells would be easier to manufacture. But bear in mind that they have to be contained one inside the other, making manufacturing, inspection, and testing more difficult. You'll also need valves and fittings on each sphere, increasing the likelihood of an implosion in one sphere causing a cascade failure in other spheres.

In this particular case, I think the KISS principle wins out. Just make it a single sphere. If you need it to withstand a higher pressure, make that sphere thicker. It's easier to build, easier to inspect for flaws, and there are fewer points of failure.

Avatar II: In 2D! (1, Funny)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#39295625)

After an unsuccessful attempt to film the sequel of Avatar at a depth of 36,000 feet in 3D resulted in the actors being squished into the ground under the intense pressures, Cameron vowed to continue filming the movie using a mix of scrapers to move the cast and stop-motion cameras to film the sequences.

Re:Avatar II: In 2D! (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#39296343)

Not Avatar, the reason he went under sea is to film Titanic 2.

Hopefully.... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39295889)

Hopefully challenger deep will become his watery grave.

Re:Hopefully.... (0)

MrHanky (141717) | more than 2 years ago | (#39296133)

You idiot. If he dies, we'll never get to see Terminator III.

Re:Hopefully.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39300341)

Oh, really? [imdb.com]

Avatar 3 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39295903)

For Avatar 3 Cameron will build his own space station and launch vehicles and film the whole thing in orbit, or maybe Mars.

Re:Avatar 3 (1)

f3rret (1776822) | more than 2 years ago | (#39299273)

That. Would. Be. AWESOME.

Guam in the news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39296043)

It made the Guam newspapers today. They are happy to get the attention for once!

Say hi to Megatron while yer down there Jimmy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39296289)

Oops wrong hack director. BOOM!

Re:Say hi to Megatron while yer down there Jimmy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39297969)

Both Terminators, Aliens, Abyss, True Lies, Titanic, and Avatar. Yeah, what a hack.

Who wrote this summary? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39296431)

equivalent to eight tons pushing down on every square inch of your body

or, equivalent to 16000 pounds pushing down on every square inch of your body, other wise known as 16000 PSI.

Deep Flight Challenger (1)

Namarrgon (105036) | more than 2 years ago | (#39296807)

So, it's a race then, between Cameron's Deep Sea Challenge and Hawke/Virgin Oceanic [wikipedia.org] 's Deep Flight Challenger [deepflight.com] (which I think is a lot cooler - it "flies" rather than just sinks).

Don't know any dates for either attempt, other than '2012' for Deep Flight's first descent.

Re:Deep Flight Challenger (1)

digitalpro (2504422) | more than 2 years ago | (#39296915)

FWIW, Hawkes has been involved in one way or another in just about all of the deepsea subs. For my money, Cameron is hugely ahead of the Virgin project as far as reaching insane depths, although hats off to Branson & Virgin for creating a very cool sub that would be awesome to pilot at any depth and will have plenty of value over time (most of the ocean is much shallower than the Challenger Deep). I'd be money that Cameron's team will be the one, and only one, to return to the Challenger Deep any time this decade. -- David Cardinal

The deepest _known_ place in the world. (2)

FiloEleven (602040) | more than 2 years ago | (#39296921)

Despite what you may have been told, we don't know everything. It's a small but important distinction.

Re:The deepest _known_ place in the world. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39297353)

It IS the lowest elevation of any point on earth. We have mapped the entire surface of the planet from space.

There may be holes which delve deeper, so what? The trench is a SURFACE feature.

What was your point again? What we "don't know" what exactly?

Re:The deepest _known_ place in the world. (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#39297989)

Yeah! Nuts to all those satellites n'shit they use.

It's the 21st Century. Where's the V.I.D.E.O. ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39297011)

It's nice of them to announce all this initial success, but where is the
recorded documentary evidence?

It's mentioned that IMAX filming was done. That's fine.
Where's the hand held HD teaser from people documenting the making
of the film?

Interesting Trieste story (2)

Thagg (9904) | more than 2 years ago | (#39297825)

The bathyscape Trieste used a similar electromagnet-holding-shot system that Cameron's sub uses. They had a bit of a surprise after many successful dives.

It seemed that the steel shot that they obtained in Europe had a substantial amount of impurities in it; and the system worked just fine. When they filled the hoppers with American shot, though, it was pure enough that the electromagnets didn't just hold the shot, it magnetized it! Even when the electromagnets were turned off, the shot stayed in the hopper.

If I recall correctly (and I read about this 40 years ago!) they were able to dump the entire shot canister to get back to the surface.

Problems at depth (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39297935)

As I see it, the problems that they experience in construction all boil down to: prevent 3D objets from going 2D.

Figures thats why Cameron is involved.

Gotta Admire the way James Cameron rolls (1, Insightful)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 2 years ago | (#39298425)

So, after making some of the best sci-fi action movies ever filmed, James Cameron kicks back with some dives to the bottom of the ocean.

You know what the best part of it is? Nearly every dive he has done has been paid for by others. After filming titanic, he did a bunch of dives as "research" for his next movie, Avatar. I must have missed the underwater scenes in that film...

Anyways, the beauty of doing it this way is :
1. He gets to charge the investors in the movie for the costs of the underwater dives AND still receive his full salary
2. Since research is a business expense, neither JC nor the movie studio pay any income taxes on the money used to fund this hobby
3. Since he's bringing an IMAX camera along for the current endeavor, WE'RE collectively going to pay the bills for the expedition!

Anyways, stuff like this is how rich people get even richer. I mean sure he could probably write a check for the millions of dollars these trips costs, but that's not how rich people roll...

With all that said, I don't see anything wrong with his actions. Mr. Cameron didn't write the tax laws, and unlikely many wealthy people, he started from nothing, and he created something to earn his wealth. It's become fashionable to criticize Avatar, but it was one of the best looking movies ever filmed, and had a solid story.

Re:Gotta Admire the way James Cameron rolls (2)

Solandri (704621) | more than 2 years ago | (#39298913)

He's not "kicking back" doing this. He's always been a deep sea aficionado. Before Titanic, he directed The Abyss [wikipedia.org] . Rather than going the easy route by using sets and pretending everything was going on underwater, he actually filmed it underwater. In a way, I think filming Titanic was just an excuse for him to play around with submersibles and visit the actual resting place of the Titanic. I mean he didn't have to use real footage of the Titanic in his film - a model or CGI or footage of a different wreck would've sufficed. But he insisted on using real footage, and it was the first part of the movie he shot.

While his film-making endeavors haven't directly helped deep ocean science, it hasn't been without merit. His movies have contributed greatly to awareness (his movies have educated more people about the effects of deep ocean diving on the body than any classroom), often serving as inspiration for students to pursue the field as a career. And the cameras, lights, and housings he's had to develop to film at depth are directly transferable to the cameras and lights used aboard scientific submersibles.

Re:Gotta Admire the way James Cameron rolls (2)

Wraithlyn (133796) | more than 2 years ago | (#39299685)

His post-Titanic dives were for two underwater documentaries, Ghosts of the Abyss [imdb.com] and Aliens of the Deep [imdb.com] , during which he also developed his 3D camera technology. He also did some TV in there too (Dark Angel and a couple other things). People make it sound like he was on vacation between Titanic and Avatar, but he has 5 directing credits during that period and advanced the state of the art for 3D, not to mention underwater exploration and filming. In between writing & directing the 2 highest grossing films of all time... not too shabby. Anyway, your characterization of him as a rich layabout "kicking back" is pretty off base. If anything he's obsessively driven.

If his dives had any research relevance to Avatar, it may have been for flora & fauna inspiration. Also, it's been reported that Avatar 2 will be largely underwater [movieweb.com] .

Passengers? (1)

scharkalvin (72228) | more than 2 years ago | (#39300239)

He should invite Clive Cussler to come along for a ride. Maybe Clive will bring Dirk Pitt along too.

They should collect the old pellets (1)

kriston (7886) | more than 2 years ago | (#39300733)

They should collect the old iron ballast pellets left behind by the last visitor to the Challenger Deep, Bathyscaphe Trieste.

The last thing He Hears. . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39301055)

RELEASE THE KRAKEN!

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