Jacques Piccard is dead

Jacques Piccard one f the 2oth Century’s greatest explorers has died at age 86.

SWISS deep sea explorer and inventor Jacques Piccard, who holds the record for travelling to the deepest point underwater, died today at the age of 86.

“One of the last great explorers of the 20th century, a true Captain Nemo who went deeper than any other man, Jacques Piccard passed away on Saturday, … at his home on the edge of his beloved Lake Geneva,” his son Bertrand said in a statement.

Piccard, who was born in Brussels, together with Don Walsh reached the bottom of the Mariana Trench, 10,916m below sea level on January 23, 1960 – the farthest point underwater.

He also witnessed living organisms at a depth of more than 11,000m below sea level, a discovery that led to a ban in nuclear waste dumping into the ocean.

Piccard had also built four mid-depth submarines, including the first tourist submarine that carried passengers deep into Lake Geneva and carried on deep sea exploration up to the age of 82.

Piccard was an aquanaut not just a submariner. In 1969 he and five other explorers spent four weeks undersea in the Ben Franklin (PX-15) . The submersible had no motor and could only drift in the Gulf Stream. The project had the involvement of NASA who used it to study long term close confinement.

The history of his family supports those who believe there’s an explorer’s gene. He father Auguste was an record holding aeronaut who with his twin brother Jean Fleix, was the first person to reach the stratosphere. Jaccques son Bertrand completed the first non stop circumnavigation of the world in a balloon . He is now working on the Solar Impulse project.

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