on 19 October 2008
This little book is an excellent read. It is factual, no frills & to the point: pretty much what you would expect from a scientist. If you are hoping for a rip-roaring adventure, this book is probably not for you - you may find the style to `dry'. I found it slightly heavy-going to begin with, but soon I didn't want to put it down.
Most of the text was written from Piccard's point of view, but includes sections by the co-author & oceanographer Robert Dietz of the Navy Electronics Lab, USA & the transcript of the observations by the biologist & ichthyologist, Andreas Rechnitzer. The story follows the various dives of the Trieste as it heads by stages into deeper & deeper waters. They plunge past the abyssal zone & ultimately into the hitherto unvisited hadal zone of the Challenger Deep in the Mariana trench - the deepest trench in the earth's crust. One cannot help but share Piccard et al.'s frustrations when more tests & trial runs are needed when the Challenger Deep is beckoning.
There are some breath-taking moments when the bathyscaphe occupants lay eyes on a teleost fish in the hadal zone, which was an unexpected sight in this high pressure, pitch dark depth of the ocean. What must the fish have thought when it was illuminated, quite possibly for the first time in its life, by the search lamps of the Trieste??? Equally, there are some breath-holding moments when things go wrong beneath miles of ocean - the feeling of claustrophobia is ever-present in the tiny submersible's observation sphere.
Piccard et al.'s elegant, money-conscious solutions to the many problems associated with the construction & operation of deep-sea submersibles are nothing short of inspired, inspiring & all too familiar to those of us who have worked on cash-starved research projects.
Finally, there is a section of Piccard's own speculations on the future of deep-sea submersibles.
on 17 February 2007
A fascinating series of dives into deep ocean, in a craft that used Gasoline as a float. Sounds like wild fantasy, but it's true. The culmination was a plunge into the Marianas Trench seven miles down. Project Nekton took place in 1960 and was to discover great surprises in the "hadal" depths. It was an achievement for which Jaques Picard was to receive a Presidential award from Dwight D Eisenhower.
In addition there is a chapter in which Picard tries to envision the deep submersibles of the future. Is he on the right track to foretell of today's craft? You must decide.