A Race to the Deepest Point on Earth

The media is buzzing today with news of James Cameron’s upcoming solo journey into the Challenger Deep.  At 35,768 ft (more than 6.7 miles!) below the surface of the Pacific Ocean, it’s the deepest spot on Earth.  He broke a solo depth record yesterday during a test dive.

Jacques Piccard and Navy Lieutenant Don Walsh, in the Bathyscaphe Trieste, were the first and last to journey into the trench.  That was in 1960!  Since then only two robotic missions have made it.  We’ve sent humans to the Moon more often and more recently than we have to the Challenger Deep.

Cameron, however, is not the only one with a bid for the Deep.  A handful of private endeavors have built or commissioned submersibles in the last couple years. Among them is Richard Branson, the billionaire papa of Virgin Records (and Virgin Mobile, and Virgin Airways, to name a few), whose goal is to dive into the deepest point in each of Earth’s five oceans this year – including, of course, the Challenger Deep in the Pacific.

We have perhaps arrived at a new age of exploration, in which Private Company 1 and Private Company 2 race each other to distant frontiers.  Whether you think it a noble motive or not… if a movie mogul and Branson want to spur each other towards the first live video feed from the darkest pit of the sea?  I say bring it on, y’all!  Scientific discoveries and incredible technological advancements often go hand in hand with competitive exploration.

Read more from the New York Times here.

ice tide

Today is a nice, cozy, indoorsy kind of day – as in it’s blowing 45 knots with gusts of 55.  King Neptune is having a great time blasting sea spray into faces and teaching lessons to the idiot who tried to carry her open coffee mug between buildings.  So, after a quick trip to the laundry room, I’m huddled in the galley, with a fresh vat of caffeine safely in hand.  What to do with my spare time?  How about string together some mellow video clips of sea ice rolling in on the changing tide:


Decoy Post!

Your sleepless nights are over.  Your days longingly spent clicking the “refresh” button at xyzena.com are through.  I’m here to quell your fears that I’ve disappeared into the Antarctic wilderness, or – worse – that I’ve given up on blogging.  THIS, KIDS, IS A BLOG POST.  Booyah!  And now, to distract you from the fact that I haven’t written anything worthwhile in about a month: here is a video that Luke made of a recent polar plunge.

Jumping into the sub-freezing water is our special way of bidding farewell to friends leaving on the northbound ship.  I’m the one in the black bikini.  I really thought the bumper was going to be much bouncier than it actually turned out to be…


Hey good hustle, penguins.  I’m sure you’re very fearsome and aggressive to each other, but it’s really hard to take you seriously when you are 20-inch-tall flightless birds.

Just imagine them in a high school cafeteria.  Oh no she di’in’t!  GIRL FIGHT!!!