Archive for 07/02/2011

Brock Vergakis – 

World War II shipwrecks off North Carolina and Civil War shipwrecks in Virginia are being analyzed with sonar technology so sophisticated that the public could one day view near photographic images in detail even better than diving at some of the sites could provide.

Federal researchers are using sonars to gather data that will result in vivid, three-dimensional images of the shipwrecks that will likely end up online, in museums and as part of other programs designed to promote American maritime heritage.

“Not everybody dives, and so that’s why we embrace technologies like this that are cutting-edge, cost-effective and give you a three-dimensional sense of that ship on the bottom,” said James Delgado, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Maritime Heritage Program. “The kinds of imagery — it’s almost photographic.”

Shipwrecks are often popular dive sites, but obtaining detailed images of the ships would allow the public to view them without risk of damaging them and also help scientists determine the condition the ships are in as they try to develop better ways to preserve them. The technology also allows the public to view shipwrecks in waters that aren’t very clear.

On Tuesday, researchers headed to North Carolina’s Outer Banks to begin creating images of ships sunk in 1942 during the Battle of Atlantic.

On July 14, 1942, a merchant convoy of 19 ships and five military escorts left Hampton Roads en route to Key West, Fla., to deliver cargo to aid the war effort. A German submarine attacked Convoy KS-520 the next day off Cape Hatteras, and the U-boat was sunk by depth charges dropped by U.S. Navy aircraft.

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Sue DeWerff –

A project to restore the grounds, walkways and the former keeper’s cottages surrounding the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse is now part of a project under way by foundation members and the 45th Space Wing of the United States Air Force.

The project, entitled the “Keepers Brick Project,” hopes to raise funds to re-build brick walkways that once linked the lighthouse with the cottages.

The fundraiser will allow visitors and the local community a chance to participate by purchasing individual bricks that will be used to construct the new walkways. Each brick, priced at $150, will include personal engraving of three rows with as many as 12 characters per line.

Funds raised for the project will also be used to build three cottages in the exact location where they existed in the late 1800s.

One of the cottages will be earmarked for use as an archeological center and the lighthouse gift shop, where visitors can purchase high-quality Cape Canaveral Lighthouse merchandise and memorabilia.

Currently the gift shop operates at the Cape cafeteria on the base, or online at www.canaverallight.org.

A second cottage will be constructed with facilities to house foundation members and the Air Force for the purpose of holding conferences and meetings.

The third cottage will serve as a museum and educational center. This building will house information about the history of the lighthouse and its keepers, and serve as a place for visitors to discover general information about the Air Force Base and Cape Canaveral historical sites in and around the area, as well as the history of the lighthouse.

The Cape Canaveral Lighthouse, one of the oldest mapped locations in the U.S., is currently the only lighthouse owned by an Air Force base. Transfer of ownership to Cape Canaveral Air Force station from the U.S. Coastguard took place on Dec. 14, 2000.

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Ed Grabianowski –

What is the Loch Ness Monster? No one knows, but that hasn’t stopped legions of armchair cryptozoologists from formulating one theory after another on the subject of the world’s most famous lake creature.

Ok, it isn’t entirely true that we don’t know anything about what Nessie is – a lot of evidence indicates that the beast was born of the marriage between a compelling local legend and the imaginations of hoaxers and excitable eyewitnesses alike. The cold, murky waters of that massive lake must surely take on an ominous, mysterious quality during long Scottish nights – is it any surprise that the region generated the Greatest Fish Story Ever Told ?

Since the first publicized sighting in 1933, the adventurous and the curious have been trying to figure out what it is that people keep seeing in those turbid grey waters.

Theory One: Nessie is a Plesiosaur.

This theory might not seem weird because it’s been around almost since the original sighting. There are even a few oddly plausible aspects of this theory. Plesiosaurs (specifically, long-necked elasmosaurs) may have been warm-blooded, which would allow one to live in the chilly loch waters. In the early 90s, a Discovery Channel expedition learned that the loch’s fish population was much greater than previously known – enough to support a population of evolved plesiosaurs ? Maybe.

There are two huge problems with this theory, though. The biological problem is that elasmosaurs were not physically able to raise their heads and necks above the water in the swan-like fashion virtually every photo and eyewitness account indicates.

The geological problem is more severe: in between the supposed extinction of plesiosaurs and the formation of Loch Ness was a period of glaciation that left the entire region encased in ice several miles thick. And if you’re about to propose some kind of Encino Man scenario, let me just stop you before you say it out loud. No, just stop.

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