Robert Siegel talks to retired Navy Captain Don Walsh about the attempt by movie director James Cameron to take a submersible capsule to the bottom of the Mariana Trench — the deepest spot on Earth. Walsh says the National Geographic and James Cameron expedition will be a combination of science and adventure, because Cameron is a storyteller and dedicated amateur explorer. Walsh made a 1960 dive to the same trench.
The far reaches of Antarctica are no longer visited only by scientists and their support staff. Adventure tourists and curiosity seekers from Europe, North America and beyond now come by the boatful — and they’re bringing some souvenirs from home. Ecologist Steven Chown tells Robert Siegel that visitors unknowingly carry seeds on their clothes and bags. He says they’ve helped spread dozens of invasive plant species on the continent and risk permanently changing Antarctica’s ecology.
The Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering is a new award created with hopes to breathe new life into the field. One million British pounds will be awarded every two years for an engineering achievement deemed to have great benefit to humanity. Nominations for the prize opened last week. Robert Siegel talks to Lord Browne of Madingley, the former president of the Royal Academy of Engineering and the force behind the award.
Robert Siegel speaks with Dr. Anton Ivanov, a scientist with the Swiss Space Center, about the CleanSpace One project. A team of scientists, including Ivanov, is developing a “janitor” satellite, which will remove debris now orbiting in space.