What would you do if you had a few hundred million dollars to burn? Would you pump it into the back of a rocket and fire it towards space? Or would you go the other direction and build a submarine and dive to the center of the Earth taking snapshots of alien-like species of eels? Would you buy an island? Sail a ship? Invent a supercomputer? Whatever you did, you'd certainly never stash it all in a savings account, right?
That's what a small group of very rich men who already own enough houses and islands must be thinking to judge from the innovative ways they're burning through their fortunes. It marks a new trend of the super wealthy choosing not to merely fund science and technology projects but work directly to produce them. And in many cases, these producers become participants in the experiment. We'll call them the Billionaire Boys Club for Exploratory Spending. And, boy, are their adventures cool.
Thanks to his latest adventures in deep sea diving, James Cameron is now a member of Billionaire Boys Club for Exploratory Spending. While he's not technically a billionaire -- his net worth is about halfway there, though he's worth well over nine digits if you count the earnings of his various movie empires -- the director/visionary is preparing to dive miles deep into the Pacific Ocean. The New York Times says that Cameron characterizes his goals as being "purely scientific rather than competitive." The Titanic and Avatar director has recruited the help of the National Geographic Society and NASA for the project. "Cameron plans to plunge nearly seven miles to the planet’s most inaccessible spot: the Challenger Deep in the western Pacific, an alien world thought to swarm with bizarre eels and worms, fish and crustaceans," explains The Times' William J. Broad. "He wants to spend six hours among them, filming the creatures and sucking up samples with a slurp gun." Cameron's 43-inch-wide capsule is outfitted with four HD cameras and a seven-foot-long panel of LEDs to illuminate the deep sea critters.