GO DEEP: James Cameron in a scene from the film "Ghosts of the Abyss." (Photo courtesy 'Ghosts of the Abyss')
Reports are streaming in that James Cameron is (or may already be) embarking on the deepest solo dive in the history of the world — 36,000 feet to the bottom of the Mariana Trench.
The BBC is saying that the 57-year-old had set off for the trench today after waiting for calm weather with his team in Guam, the closest island to the drop zone. If all goes according to plan, he'll rocket to the bottom in a one-man futuristic "vertical submarine."
"The axis of his 24-foot-long craft is upright rather than horizontal, speeding the plunge," The NY Times reports. "His goal is to fall and rise as quickly as possible so he can maximize his time investigating the dark seabed. He wants to prowl the bottom for six hours."
Cameron and his team have built the sub in Australia over the last eight years based on an initial idea that popped into his head while filming an undersea documentary on the German battleship Bismarck.
"I started to think about what would it take to go deeper, what would it take to go to full ocean depth — that was kind of the holy grail from an engineering standpoint," he told BBC News.
"So you start 'noodling' up designs, and thinking how it would be possible and what would it take. And then there is suddenly this moment that seems to transpire with no transition where you are suddenly doing it."
He adds: "I seem to have that curse that once I imagine something being built, I have to build it."
According to the Times, Cameron's 6-foot-2 frame will be squeezed into a cockpit no larger than 43 inches wide. And he'll have to remain that way for more than nine hours.
“He’s done something radical,” Peter Girguis, a biological oceanographer at Harvard told the Times. “He’s set aside the conventional wisdom.”
Cameron previously took a solo dive in the vertical sub, named Deepsea Challenger, 5.1 miles under the surface during a "dress rehearsal." The Mariana Trench dive will take him more than 7.1 miles down.
Once on the bottom, Cameron will use his six hours "taking images, taking core samples, discovering new species."
Check out a CNN video on Cameron's revolutionary deep sea sub below.
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