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James Cameron Gives Sub To Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

samzenpus posted about a year and a half ago | from the going-deep dept.

Earth 35

A year ago James Cameron made history by traveling solo almost seven miles deep in an area of the Pacific Ocean known the Mariana Trench’s Challenger Deep. He made the trip in a submersible he helped design, the Deepsea Challenger submersible system and science platform. To celebrate the anniversary, Cameron is forming a partnership with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), and donating the Deep Sea Challenger. From the press release: "Cameron will transfer the Deepsea Challenger to Woods Hole, where WHOI scientists and engineers will work with Cameron and his team to incorporate the sub’s numerous engineering advancements into future research platforms and deep-sea expeditions. This partnership harnesses the power of public and private investment in supporting deep-ocean science. “The seven years we spent designing and building the Deepsea Challenger were dedicated to expanding the options available to deep-ocean researchers. Our sub is a scientific proof-of-concept, and our partnership with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is a way to provide the technology we developed to the oceanographic community,” says Cameron. James even sent us a few early drawings of the Deepsea Challenger that he made during a conversation with oceanographer Don Walsh in November 2003. The sketches are proof that many great ideas start out on napkins or lined paper.

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DEEPSEA CHALLENGER submersible system and science platform, Jim Cameron, Nov. 2003.

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"The one that's interesting, although it's very faint, is the one that shows how I would sit in the sphere, with the HD camera at the viewport. Surprisingly, that concept never changed."

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Which one? (2, Funny)

0100010001010011 (652467) | about a year and a half ago | (#43280123)

Tiger had lots of mistresses. Which one got it?

JAMES CAMERON (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43280771)

James Cameron doesn't do what James Cameron does for James Cameron. James Cameron does what James Cameron does because James Camerion is James Cameron.

Re:Which one? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43280871)

the 18th at Torrey Pines.

Re:Which one? (1)

sharkey (16670) | about a year and a half ago | (#43280969)

Could it be that Holly Sampson is responsible for raising the bar the next time it is needed?

so (2)

rossdee (243626) | about a year and a half ago | (#43280147)

How deep is Woods Hole?

Re:so (2)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year and a half ago | (#43280751)

After his ex-wife ripped him a new one? Pretty deep.

That bastard. (2)

azav (469988) | about a year and a half ago | (#43280179)

He promised it to me.

James Cameron (3, Interesting)

dyingtolive (1393037) | about a year and a half ago | (#43280233)

...doesn't do what James Cameron does for James Cameron. James Cameron does what James Cameron does because he is James Cameron.

Re:James Cameron (4, Funny)

Jade_Wayfarer (1741180) | about a year and a half ago | (#43280275)

His name is James, James Cameron
The bravest pioneer
No budget too steep, no sea too deep
Who's that?
It's him, James Cameron
James, James Cameron explorer of the sea
With a dying thirst to be the first
Could it be? Yeah that's him!
James Cameron

Oh yeah!

Napkin sketches not always a good idea (3, Funny)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year and a half ago | (#43280263)

The sketches are proof that many great ideas start out on napkins or lined paper.

Proof: a 36" Stonehenge monument [youtube.com] .

Re:Napkin sketches not always a good idea (1)

jzarling (600712) | about a year and a half ago | (#43280761)

Its terrible when you have Stonehenge monument in danger of being crushed,,, by a dwarf. And it was 18" tall.

Forgetting the movies for a moment... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43280325)

James Cameron doesn't get nearly enough recognition for the time, money and effort that he has spent on deep sea exploration. He has been pushing scientific boundaries for years in an environment that is as inhospitable as space.

Re:Forgetting the movies for a moment... (4, Interesting)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about a year and a half ago | (#43281225)

He has been pushing scientific boundaries for years in an environment that is as inhospitable as space.

Designing for deep-sea is actually a fairly practical way to advance the technology needed for space as well. Not 100% but many commonalities.

That and Cameron probably gets favorable tax treatment for the donation, rather than just depreciating the unused asset over time.

Also: "this [boat] belongs in a museum!" I hope that's its eventual fate.

Re:Forgetting the movies for a moment... (2)

dyingtolive (1393037) | about a year and a half ago | (#43281577)

You made me think of Futurama:

"How many atmospheres of pressure is this ship designed to be able to handle, Professor?"
Well, it's a spaceship, so somewhere between 0 and 1.

Not what you were going for, I realize, but it made me chuckle so I thought I would share.

Re:Forgetting the movies for a moment... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43282357)

Maybe with life support etc., but 18,000 psi acting inwards is quite different from 15 psi acting outwards ....

The unasked (and unanswered) question (2)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about a year and a half ago | (#43280377)

Do the scientists at Woods Hole actually want the sub?

Re:The unasked (and unanswered) question (3, Informative)

chaim79 (898507) | about a year and a half ago | (#43280687)

From what I understand they are getting the Sub itself, along with access to all the technology and engineering that went into it's creation. That's a lot of great information and ideas that will go into building whatever they want, even if the Deepsea Challenger simply gets parked in a warehouse or torn apart for parts.

Re:The unasked (and unanswered) question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43280919)

Honestly, that's like asking if the boys at JPL want a bigger supersonic wind tunnel.

Re:The unasked (and unanswered) question (1)

dj245 (732906) | about a year and a half ago | (#43285059)

Honestly, that's like asking if the boys at JPL want a bigger supersonic wind tunnel.

To be honest, the thing they probably need more of is funding for their current operations. Underwater subs for research are not really about having the "deepest"- at the very deepest points, there is not much interesting happening. The Alvin only came close to its deep diving rating a small percentage of the time. The focus when I worked on such a project was on faster decents/ascents, lower environmental impact, passenger comfort, lower cost operation, etc. Work was being done to improve drop weight systems. Dropping piles of lead weights all over the ocean floor is frowned upon in sensitive areas such as historical wreck sites. The endurance of the batteries dictates operating time so better batteries and faster ascents/descents were investigated to increase bottom-time. One idea Lockheed had was to have a sub pointing 30 degrees downward in order to improve aerodynamics during descents.

Re:The unasked (and unanswered) question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43286367)

WHOI is finishing an upgrade to Alvin right now. http://www.whoi.edu/main/alvin/upgrade

Re:The unasked (and unanswered) question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43284721)

Yes, I live here in Falmouth, MA (next to Woods Hole) and yes WHOI does want it. Look at www.capecodonline.com for the local article. Cameron consulted with them when he visited WHOI last year.

I hope not through 1-877-SUBS-FOR-KIDS (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43280445)

I hear that charity has high overhead.

Remote would be better (3, Interesting)

Grizzley9 (1407005) | about a year and a half ago | (#43280457)

Would it not have been much easier and feasible to just send a remote camera instead of having to design a human capable device as well?

From the BBC article

Dr Alan Jamieson, from Oceanlab, said: "I think what James Cameron has done is a really good achievement in terms of human endeavour and technology. "But my feeling is that manned submersibles like this are limited in scientific capabilities when compared to other systems, mostly due to the fact there is someone in it. Remote or autonomous systems can collect a far greater volume of useful scientific data for far less money."

Props to JC for his accomplishment but it seems it was mainly for his ego/personal curiosity.

Re:Remote would be better (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43280619)

Oceanlab? Pfft. I only trust my oceanographic information from Sealab!

Oh, and Metalocalypse did it before James Cameron!

Re:Remote would be better (5, Insightful)

Araes (1177047) | about a year and a half ago | (#43280801)

Does anyone pay attention when a robot goes to the bottom of a trench on the ocean? This is the same argument against manned spaceflight and its equally foolish. Humans identify with the shared experience of other humans, and are tribally interested in what happens to them. If we want to fire people up about exploration, we need to do that exploring with humans.

Re:Remote would be better (1)

milkmage (795746) | about a year and a half ago | (#43280931)

But a larger question remains: Is public support for human space flight strong enough to spur government officials to pay the price in the decades ahead? On the steps of the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum last week, visitors hoped so.

"There's a lot to be learned," says Tim Johns, 46, of Kaneohe, Hawaii, "and probably it's good for the human spirit to push the envelope."

Re:Remote would be better (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43280967)

There's inherent value in the expanded field of view afforded the pilot of a manned submersible. They have the opportunity see an expanded field of view and select the most appropriate angle from which to record the subject in its surroundings. Wide angle lenses distort the periphery. So in order to capture video that's representative of life & its surroundings, you have to be able to see the world for what it is before you can maneuver a sub to capture the best angle. If your subject is alive, it isn't always as a compliant to direction as a professional actor.

Submersibles have advantages and limitations. They can stay down indefinitely. But remote operation isn't necessarily going obtain the best results.

Re:Remote would be better (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43281023)

The problem with deep sea probes is that radio-control sucks under water, so the probes have to be tethered. That limits their range and mobility.

Most deep sea probes are operated from a manned sub so as to shorten the tether.

Re:Remote would be better (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | about a year and a half ago | (#43281153)

Yep, it would have been much easier and cheaper. However, JC (hah!) wanted to go himself. So he built a submarine that could take him there.

Never underestimate how much progress comes from a rich bastard wanting to see the stars, or see his name in the stars.

Re:Remote would be better (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43282071)

Isn't there a significant problem communicating with subs wirelessly over even short distances? Somehow I have a hard time believing that a robotic submersible is going to be able to tow a 7 mile plus cable around with it, especially with currents going every which way. If wireless communication at great depths can't be overcome it would drastically limit robotic exploration.

Re:Remote would be better (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about a year and a half ago | (#43284353)

Would it not have been much easier and feasible to just send a remote camera instead of having to design a human capable device as well?

Sure. So long as you're willing to accept the sharp and extreme limitations that come with that remote camera.

James Cameron (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43280681)

Now here's a guy who puts his own wealth behind his ideas. Like it or not, he's doing something useful. Unlike so many other public figures we have today. But the Slashdot crowd will run him done anyway!

Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43281115)

This is the whole thing : Titanic Sank.
Stuff happens, why is this more interesting than anything else?

Interesting design (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43281291)

I suppose it has an interesting design, but its not exactly the most research(er) friendly craft ever. One person crammed into a 48" metal sphere along with a bunch of life support and electronics? It seems to be designed for one purpose, to break a record. I suppose the tech is valuable as a baseline for developing a more robust craft. Personally I'm annoyed that most of these subs are only setup for a few hours at the bottom, for the most part I think most of them spend far more time on the assent/decent than they do actually exploring. They should be scaled to allow several researchers (3 or more) to spend a week or more on the bottom. I suppose the difficulty there is power, I would think fuel cells would be the way to go. A more fundamental question though I suppose is whether or not there is really anything to study down that far. If I'm remembering correctly Trieste researchers were surprised at the amount of life they stumbled upon with their limited explorations.

Baltic Sea Anomaly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43283951)

Why not give it to the Ocean Explorer team to help them find out what that Baltic Sea Anomaly is?

Or at least rent it to them for free for a little while..

http://truthfall.com/baltic-anomaly-alien-skull-object-adds-to-mystery/

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