On Monday James Cameron, famed Canadian director of the two highest grossing films in history (Avatar and Titanic), made the first privately-funded and second-ever manned dive to the deepest part of the Marianas Trench in the Pacific Ocean. The dive was the result of a years-long project privately funded by Cameron himself to construct a vessel capable not only of withstanding the tremendous pressure at such depths, but of filming the entire voyage in 3D.
The first manned voyage to the bottom of the Marianas Trench, which measures nearly seven miles deep, was part of a long history of scientific projects during the Cold War. Project Nekton was the name given to the series of test dives and deep sea dives by the bathyscaphe Trieste, owned by the United States Navy. On January 23, 1960, Trieste, crewed by Lt. Don Walsh and Swiss oceanographer Jacques Piccard, reached the bottom of the Marianas Trench and spent about 20 minutes exploring its unknown depths.