The man hardly needs an introduction to cinephiles the world over, as James Cameron has captured the imaginations of movie-goers for decades. His CV includes blockbuster hits The Terminator, The Abyss, Aliens, Titanic, and of most recent fame, Avatar. With subject matter such as is featured in many of his films, it’s not hard to connect the dots and see that James Cameron loves science fiction. But did you know that he is also a big fan of science reality?
That’s right, Mr. Cameron does not exist purely in a world of fantasy and far-off ideals of the future. Since the age of 15, he has been a certified SCUBA diver, despite the fact that he and his family resided in Canada, 600 miles from an ocean he’d never even seen. He traveled over the US border to Buffalo, New York, where he received his first certification in a YMCA swimming pool. It wasn’t until two years later, when his family moved to California, that his love affair with the underwater world began.
In addition to becoming an avid SCUBA diver, Cameron began to develop an interest in submarines, particularly those that cater to individual exploration. His research for Titanic included the use of a deep-water Russian submarine, inside of which he submerged to the depth of the real Titanic: 12, 600 feet. This led to his acquisition of an entire fleet of personal submarines, a fleet that since has been growing — one of which is about to make history with James Cameron as its sole passenger.
To be precise, Cameron has already made history with his self-designed submersible, plunging to a depth of 5.1 miles below the surface during a test-run for his real mission: to be the first person in over 50 years to dive to the Mariana Trench’s Challenger Deep, the deepest known point of any of the world’s oceans. But he won’t just be making the dive to claim his prize and be on his merry way, as it were. Cameron intends to collect samples, images, and data from the Challenger Deep that will be the first anyone has ever seen, never mind that it was collected by a single individual. The design and technology of the submarine that will take him, appropriately dubbed the DEEPSEA CHALLENGER, is advanced enough to allow him to remain on the seafloor of the Challenger Deep for a staggering six hours.
The mission will commence in a matter of weeks, once Cameron is satisfied that testing for the submersible is sufficient. His journey will provide some much sought-after answers to some of science’s most basic questions about the deepest place on Earth; namely, does it support any forms of life? At a depth of 6.8 miles below the surface of the Pacific Ocean, it is hard to imagine much of anything would be going on down there. But if there’s one man who has the determination and the unwavering focus to see that information make it to the surface, our money is on James Cameron.