Monday, March 26, 2012

VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA

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" At 2:20 a.m. on April 15, 1912, 
the “unsinkable” R.M.S. Titanic 
disappeared beneath the waves, 
taking with her 1,500 souls. One 
hundred years later, new
 technologies have revealed the 
most complete—and most
 intimate—images of the famous wreck."
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It is an exciting time for Titanic enthusiasts as the 100th anniversary of the maritime disaster approaches. What is it about the RMS Titanic that it has maintained our interest for the past 100 years?

This month's National Geographic, which looks great on the iPad, offers a meticulously stitched-together mosaic of the wreck of the  fabled vessel.  The ghostly image resembles the surface of the moon, with innumerable striations in the seabed, as well as craters caused by boulders dropped over millennia from melting icebergs.

The precise map is helping answer mysteries like how the ship broke apart and whether a flaw in its design contributed to the disaster.

Researchers have constructed a complete map of the Titanic's underwater shipwreck site.  Debris is scattered across an area measuring 3 by 5 miles. To draw a detailed map of the area, scientists dispatched robots to take more than 100,000 photographs and used sonar imaging technology to scour the seabed.

The History channel will air a two-hour documentary on the project on April 15, the 100th anniversary of the sinking.

Speaking of fascination with deep sea adventures, Titanic producer James Cameron successfully spent three hours exploring the 35,756 feet below the ocean's surface in the Mariana Trench, the deepest place on earth.

That is an 11 km dive!

 He is the first person to make a solo dive to the spot. In 1960 when U.S. Navy Lieutenant Don Walsh and the Swiss oceanographer Jacques Piccard spent 20 minutes there in the submersible craft Trieste, but they could not see or collect anything. 

Cameron's  "Deepsea Challenger," contained 3-D cameras, an eight-foot lighting tower, a sediment sampler, a robotic claw, and a "slurp gun," which can suction-up tiny creatures.  It took two hours 36 minutes to descend all the way to the bottom, though his return trip took just 70 minutes.





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