WOODS HOLE, MASS.—For the past two weeks, a quarter-million students, at viewing posts in the United States and Canada, have participated in an unprecedented scientific adventure—a live telecast from the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea. experiment called the Jason Project (after Greek mythology’s heroic leader of the Argonauts), is an $8 million extravaganza that is part science, part education, and part showbiz. It is the brainchild of Robert Ballard, the famed deep-sea researcher who in 1986 explored the sunken luxury liner Titanic.

On May 1, Ballard and his team from the woods Hole Oceanographic Institution's deep submergence laboratory began telecasting not from a manned submersible like Alvin— the vessel in which Ballard made his daring Titanic exploration—but via a seeing-eye robot named Jason, a high-tech marvel that Ballard originally developed for the Navy.

Jason, as big as a big deep freeze and not much more attractive, is a model of...

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