Wednesday, April 21, 2010

"Trieste" by any other name

While the rest of the planet went about its daily business last week a small but dedicated group of explorers joined together in celebration in Washington.

There were gathered to celebrate mans first descent to 35,800 feet and Don Walsh who is the only surviving member of that stunning dive. A groundbreaking exploration he accomplished with dive partner Jacques Piccard...50 years ago.

Luminaries from James Cameron to Sylvia Earl were on hand to congratulate the man, the submarine, and the achievement. They were also on hand to ruminate about the possibilities of going back.

50 years ago deep water technology did not include composite materials, lightweight carbon, and newer composite viewing windows.

As the Washington Post wrote last week, Don Walshes descent almost ended before it began:

At 31,000 feet, they echo-sounded for the bottom. There was no return. At 32,400 feet, a thick window cracked with a bang. Farther down they went. Into the bleak hadal zone, named for Hades, the ancient Greek underworld. Finally, at 35,800 feet, then-Navy Lt. Don Walsh, 28, phoned the surface: "This is Trieste. We are on the bottom of Challenger Deep. . . . Over."

Complete story and video.

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