Saturday, August 09, 2003

Losing the Titanic

Interesting article at the NYT this morning over the deterioration of the Titanic wreck, at least some of which I believe is misleading (particularly the title, "Loving the Titanic to Death" which implies that visits to the wreck are largely or entirely responsible for the gradual disintegration of the ship). For example, Dr. Ballard's statement that he did not expect the Titanic to measurably decay in his lifetime is and always was ridiculous. The ship has been deteriorating since the moment it sank, and comparision with other wrecks, like the Bismarck and the Andrea Doria, show that all wrecks suffer ongoing, gradual decay, particularly of light metal structures like the superstructure, which on Titanic is rapidly disappearing. More useful are the observations of Roy Cullimore, a marine biologist familiar with the wreck who has been doing important work on the rusticle formations (for more on Cullimore's work and discoveries, check out the book Ghosts of the Titanic by Charles Pellegrino). Cullimore suspects that overfishing in the Grand Banks has led to an explosion of microscopic sea life, which apparently are helping "feed" the growth of the rusticle formations (Dr. Pellegrino, who has also visited the wreck, discussed the remarkable appearance of microscopic life in the book mentioned above). There is also an ongoing problem of "pirates" trying to loot the wreck site; this can only be controlled by periodic monitoring overflights by US and Canadian Coast Guard aircraft, which should be put into place as funds and schedules permit. Since the Canadians already closely patrol the Grand Banks, this shouldn't prove to be much of a problem.

Trailers of Death...Rrrrrriiiight

Well, well, well, the cretins at the Defense Intelligence Agency have finally figured out what everyone else with half a flipping brain knew all along, that Dubya's overhyped "trailers of death" found in Iraq were actually hydrogen gas generators designed to fill weather balloons, and sold to Iraq for this purpose years ago by a British firm. Duh.

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