Friday, May 23, 2008

A Titanic cover up

There is a good TED video of Robert Ballard, the guy who found the wreckage of the Titanic. Interesting guy and certainly has done great stuff, but it annoys me that he's a bit disingenuous since he knows that a lot of money has been spent by rival superpowers (the same ones that funded space programs) mapping, exploring, sampling and recording the oceans. In fact, he is most famous for directly benefiting from the national coffers -- "finding the Titanic" was actually the cover story for a secret military mission to find two famous submarine wrecks: the Thresher and the Scorpion. Speaking of submarines, I thought this was an interesting book.

But back to Titanic. Ballard's released the latitude and longitude of the wreck (details are here including the percentages of survivors by fare class). Ninety-four percent of the first class women and children survived, but only ten percent of the second class men. The website also says "Ironically, most of those who drowned were Americans."

At least Ballard isn't as annoying as James Cameron's obsession with robotic subs. But I have to admit, this is amusing :)

Another famous submarine cover-up, Howard Hughes' Glomar Explorer, is left as an exercise for the reader. Here is a teaser:
... the wealthy eccentric Howard Hughes constructed the Glomar Explorer, an enormous barge built for the ostensible purpose of mining manganese nodules from the ocean floor. Although manganese nodules are real, the mining venture was actually an elaborate hoax.
You can even watch the declassified burial at sea of soviet submariners recovered by the Explorer.