Friday, 1 February 2013

Aquanaut

Don Walsh (left) & Jaques Piccard (right)
True pioneers of exploration

AQUANAUT

Noun. L19.
[Latin aqua water + Greek nautes sailor]

An underwater swimmer or explorer.

It's likely that every one of us can name the first men on the moon, the first to have climbed Everest, and probably numerous other explorers who opened up the world during the Age of Discovery. But consider this:

Twelve men have walked on the surface of the moon, around 500 have been into space, and thousands have climbed Mount Everest. However, only three people have ever descended to the ocean's deepest point in the Mariana Trench. The first were Jaques Piccard and Lt. Don Walsh, completing their descent on the 23rd January 1960 in their bathyscaphe Trieste. The third was film director James Cameron, who became the first to make a solo descent on March 26th 2012. 

From the surface of the ocean, the Mariana Trench is almost 11km deep (if you were to lower Mount Everest into the trench, its peak would still be 1.6km underwater) and the pressure at that depth is a positively sub-crushing 8 tonnes per square inch. 

There's little doubt in my mind that aquanauts Walsh and Piccard deserve to be recognised alongside other great explorers like Armstrong & Aldrin and Hilary & Norgay. Cameron's expedition is similarly fascinating, and you can learn more about it and the Mariana Trench on the Deepsea Challenge website.



The bathyscaphe Trieste




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