With the technological savoir-faire that only a genius mind could offer, Academy Award winner James Cameron explored the innermost spaces of the Titanic shipwreck. The famous director of the movie by the same name led a film team of underwater explorers on a series of historic dives.
From the interiors of a scientific submersible, Cameron navigated one to four robots, in order to reach unexplored nooks and crannies of the gigantic liner that sank in 1912. As the other scientists assisted, their faces told a much grander story: this was their trip of a lifetime! They, unlike most of us sat in a front row seat before an un-replicable screen at 12,000 feet on the ocean floor.
The sea-floor-to satellite-data system revealed to the scientific team as well as TV viewers areas of decay, but amazingly, also those which have been beautifully preserved: Turkish baths with blue-green tiled walls intact, a domed archway, and of course the famous bow—the one reminiscent of the famous movie scene with Di Caprio and Blanchet.
James Cameron is not only a film director, but a scientist by training; his specialty is physics and his passion is shipwrecks. His two wrecks of expertise to this point are the Titanic and the Bismarck. He has made documentary films on both.
I spoke with Cameron in June of 2008 in Washington, DC where he was sharing his knowledge of the Bismarck with the American Society of Naval Engineers. I told him that I would like to explore my wreck, the Andrea Doria, in the same way that he did with a Bismarck survivor. Astoundingly, he didn’t dismiss my idea and suggested that we wouldn’t even have to descend in a submersible; we could simply navigate his robot Ellwood from the surface. In fact, he said, “you could navigate him yourself.”
And now this is my goal. I do hope that the busy film director/scientist will muster up time and passion to share in this bittersweet experience with me.
*Program aired on the Science Channel, at 8 p.m., September 27, 2009