Plumbing new depths

Plumbing new depths

Liu Feng knows a thing or two about deep conversations – although less the Hegel and Kant variety, and more the deep sea type. Liu commands the Jiaolong, China’s state-of-the-art submersible which this week returned to port in Qingdao.

The sub reached its lowest-ever depth on its most recent mission, descending 7,062 metres into the Mariana Trench. China’s media claims that the country is now able to explore 99.8% of the ocean floor, although its neighbours will be less enthusiastic given recent tensions over the South China Sea (see page 7).

To the Chinese, however, Jiaolong’s historic dive represents another example of the country’s rising technological prowess. The Jiaolong has now reached a greater depth than either Japan’s Shinkai 6500 or America’s Alvin submersibles. But it still doesn’t hold the record. That achievement remains with Titanic film director James Cameron, who took a sub to a depth of 10,898 metres earlier this year.

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