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Wreck of Australian Warship HMAS Sydney Found? 193

Posted by kdawson
from the frieght-and-salvage dept.
Mendy writes "Tim Ankers, a British archaeologist, claims to have found the wreck of the HMAS Sydney, lost with all hands in the Indian Ocean during World War II. He says that he's done this from the comfort of his home using software he wrote called Merlindown, which can analyze satellite photographs at different wavelengths to 'peer 75 meters into the earth and 16,000 meters beneath the seas.'"
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Wreck of Australian Warship HMAS Sydney Found?

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  • Sweet! (Score:5, Funny)

    by pmdata (861264) * on Saturday June 02, 2007 @11:12PM (#19368211)
    *Fires up Google Earth to search for treasure and naked women in the shower*
    • by Geodesy99 (1002847) on Sunday June 03, 2007 @01:23AM (#19368715)
      His claims of course are WAY suspect - light of whatever wavelength needs to get to the target, then reflect BACK to the sensor, and well, the reason water is blue is that it's pretty much impervious to most wavelengths, and as far as IR, that wreck that deep would probably have cooled down really well by now to the ambient water temperature. I have seen sunken wrecks from satellite images though ... Scapa Flow has quite a few scuttled wrecks from WW II. See http://www.scapaflow.co.uk/graphics/blockship.jpg [scapaflow.co.uk] and then http://maps.google.com/maps?ie=UTF8&ll=58.927777,- 3.310318&spn=0.059626,0.126343&t=k&z=13&om=1 [google.com] (.... Hmmm, been spending WAY to much time looking at synthetic aperture radar scenes .... )
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by JackMeyhoff (1070484)
        You are basing your assumption on Goggle image quality, not what is available if you PAY up for quality data.
        • by Geodesy99 (1002847) on Sunday June 03, 2007 @02:31AM (#19369045)

          .... what is available if you PAY up for quality data.
          Light (and all radiation) obeys the same rules of physics along the optical path, it doesn't care how much you 'pay' for it. The example I gave was Google (and they DO pay for their data, although they post it for free), but I do buy a lot of data ( I just purchased a bunch from the Alaska SAR Facility). I've worked with almost every type of sensor out there in most every atmospheric propagating wavelength - SAR, LIDAR, IR, NIR, Visible, from Landsat, Aster, Alos, Quickbird, from airborne and space located platforms. I even bout the X-ray glasses from comic books ads when I was a kid http://www.tomheroes.com/images/COMICAD%20xray%20g lasses.JPG [tomheroes.com] ... And military platforms also have to obey the same physical constraints, although they do have certain other advantages. There is no 'magic' part of the spectrum which penetrates to the depths he speaks of, the best that's every been done in that zone were some air-borne active blue-green laser experiments.
          • It would be lovely if it did. We could resolve the bathymetry problem. Sigh, alas, no.

          • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

            by jollyreaper (513215)

            Light (and all radiation) obeys the same rules of physics along the optical path, it doesn't care how much you 'pay' for it.
            Could you speak to my boss? The man thinks that the laws of space and time are negotiable so long as you hire the right lobbyist.
      • by Gordonjcp (186804)
        It's remarkably clear for such low resolution imagery. Have a look at this one [google.com] - the bright spots along the southern edge of Hoxa Head are the remains of WWII gun emplacements. They are greyish concrete against greyish rock and thin vegetation cover, so I'm surprised they show up that well. Maybe it's picking up on infrared more than visible light.
  • by whitehatlurker (867714) on Saturday June 02, 2007 @11:16PM (#19368223) Journal
    Big deal - a ship is rather large. Can you find my keys?
    • by WIAKywbfatw (307557) on Saturday June 02, 2007 @11:42PM (#19368323) Journal
      Uh, if this is true then it is a big dea. A very big deal.

      Do you have any idea of how valuable salvage rights of all the sunken wrecks that this tool could potentially uncover would be? No? Well, here's a clue:

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/cornwall/667197 5.stm [bbc.co.uk]

      That's one wreck. Worth half a billion dollars. Makes you think, doesn't it?

      • by prof_peabody (741865) on Sunday June 03, 2007 @12:15AM (#19368471)
        The deepest part of the ocean is 10,900 m. So where is he seeing through 16,000 m of ocean?

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mariana_Trench [wikipedia.org]
        • by Fred_A (10934)
          I was wondering the same thing. Maybe he found a picture peeking straight down a water filled disused and empty oil-well ? Maybe he found some quality imagery from other planets ?
          What's the depth of the oceans of Europa ?
        • I have no idea where he gets his 16,000m figure from but one thing that immediately springs to mind is that he's almost certainly not looking straight down at the ocean floor.

          The Marianas Trench might only be 10,900m deep but it and other parts of the oceans would be obscured by a lot more than 10,900m of ocean when viewed at an angle.

          That to me seems to be one logical explanation. Another would be that, having found at least 31 sunken vessels, he's tested his software enough to be able to confidently extra
          • Another would be that, having found at least 31 sunken vessels, he's tested his software enough to be able to confidently extrapolate that it would be effective to 16,000m beneath the waves.

            From the article, the 31 sunken vessels claim is coming from him. Does anyone have anything that actually backs this number up?
      • by cgenman (325138)
        That's one wreck. Worth half a billion dollars. Makes you think, doesn't it?

        Makes me think it's time to short the value of gold and silver.

      • by RESPAWN (153636)
        I think that find is a little out of the ordinary, though. How about coming up with a better example of a typical salvage find?
  • by LinuxInDallas (73952) on Saturday June 02, 2007 @11:18PM (#19368227)
    I'd be interested in knowing how his algorithm works. Finding sunken vessels 2 miles under water using existing satellite photos of the ocean(even if they are "optimum-quality") seems almost too good to be true. Not only that but to supposedly be able to make out gun turets of those ships? Seems like a bit of hocus pocus.

    Perhaps he is going public with this in hopes that someone will want to purchase the software for treasure hunting.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by cmeans (81143)
      Actually, sounds more like hocus focus :)
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 02, 2007 @11:37PM (#19368293)
      You're not alone. Apparently this story came out last week and Akers' claims already rejected by those searching for the ship.

      http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/hmas-sydney-fi nd-nonsense/2007/06/03/1180809320635.html [smh.com.au]

      FTA -
      But Ted Graham, the chairman of the Perth-based volunteer company HMAS Sydney Search (HMA3S), says finding the shipwreck using the methods Mr Akers said he employed was impossible.

      "All the advice we're getting is saying Tim's claims are technically not possible," Mr Graham told AAP.

      "We've spoken to a whole lot of people and got advice from various people including technical people in government departments and they have all stated that what Tim's claiming is complete rubbish.

      "I think it's just complete nonsense."
      • by Gnavpot (708731)

        You're not alone. Apparently this story came out last week and Akers' claims already rejected by those searching for the ship.

        While I agree that this story sounds like nonsense, you have probably found the most unreliable source for a rejection: A competitor who is receiving public funds to achieve the same goal.
    • Ground based sonar (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ushering05401 (1086795) on Saturday June 02, 2007 @11:37PM (#19368295) Journal
      My brother in law was an archeologist who utilized ground based sonar devices to look for Native American ruins. The resolution on the unit he was using was something like 10 meters below the ground, and required a very slow transit time and a good deal of energy.

      Yes, tech progresses, but 75 m from outer space using only UV, Xray, and Infra photography? I am very skeptical.

      On another note... if this new process is true then construction will have to pretty much halt in many areas of Southern California. There are stringent rules in place governing building on areas that contain either significant fossil remains or any sort of Native American relics. Several hundred million USD per year is spent on archeological surveys to determine what may be beneath a construction site. Various companies have reputations for finding little if anything, and so environmental groups sometimes employ other companies that usually find a good deal of things that will prevent construction.

      Decently resolved pictures up to 75 m below the surface will prove what some archeos in the field already believe to be true... under current laws it should be almost impossible to build anywhere in the greater L.A. area because of the shear volume of fossil record.

      They pulled two gigantic whales out of a toll road excavation in the middle of the desert... etc.

      Regards.
      • ground based sonar?
        • Yeah. There are various more technical names as there are various types of technology.

          The unit he used had a stationary computational unit with a tethered box that contained the sonic pulse generator/echo reciever.

          The tethered unit would traverse the survey area, direct the sonar pulses into the ground, recieve the echo, and then relay data back. The tether was required because large amounts of juice had to be delivered, so they ran the data and the juice (two seperate, heavily shielded lines) through the
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ceoyoyo (59147)
        Another reason to be skeptical: UV and X-ray don't penetrate the atmosphere, never mind the ground or ocean. IR penetrates less than visible light -- ie, not very far.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by blincoln (592401)
          Another reason to be skeptical: UV and X-ray don't penetrate the atmosphere, never mind the ground or ocean.

          X-rays and short-wave UV don't. Longer-wave UV does.

          IR penetrates less than visible light -- ie, not very far.

          Near IR penetrates the atmosphere better and with less scattering than visible light. What you say is true for *some* of the IR band, but it's also got a lot of room in it.
          • by ceoyoyo (59147)
            I don't remember my original post, but I meant that IR penetrates water (and solid ground) less than visible light.

            Long wave UV kind of penetrates atmosphere, but it sure doesn't penetrate either 16,000 metres (if that were even possible) of water or 75m of ground.

            The only thing that has any chance of penetrating a decent amount of water is extremely low frequency (ELF) radio and there's no way you're going to image anything with that. If any other part of the EM spectrum could make it through an appreciab
    • by Fred_A (10934)

      I'd be interested in knowing how his algorithm works. Finding sunken vessels 2 miles under water using existing satellite photos of the ocean(even if they are "optimum-quality") seems almost too good to be true.
      It's really easy, you just need a pendulum, candles and a few crystals. Then during the full moon, you put your pendulum above your google earth display (some heavy lifting may be required if you use a CRT)...
    • There is one very tenuous possibility - that the ship is altering ocean currents sufficiently to be detected with sufficient precision that the origin can be deduced by inference. The ocean's surface is the only thing you can see, ergo the only source of information he could be using. From there, you look at what can alter the surface, what can alter that, and so on.

      Probability that this could be useful at very shallow depths, with objects whose size are far more significant in the scheme of things: Prett

  • When will this be available as a layer in Google Earth?
  • OK, let's fire up a robot and check his work...
  • by lowid (24) _________ (878977) <patrick AT atomisk DOT com> on Saturday June 02, 2007 @11:39PM (#19368307) Homepage
    What if you have an uncomfortable home?

    Nobody ever considers this end of things.
  • by Angst Badger (8636) on Saturday June 02, 2007 @11:43PM (#19368329)
    If true, this guy just obsoleted the submarine. But by the same token, I don't think we'd be hearing about it if it were true. Any number of security agencies would have pounced on him by now.
    • by linzeal (197905)
      How long do you think the submarine has been obsolete? They have been using this technology for years for intelligence. It is just not a well known fact.
      • by SEWilco (27983)
        Actually the use of submarines for intelligence was a well kept secret until you made ia a well known fact.
        Well done.
    • Nope, think about it. All the satellite pics are taken at differant times, and some pics on places like google earth are years old. If you had a pic from a satellite 2 years ago, and one 1 year ago, you couldn't tell the location of any subs 1 or 2 years ago because you need the combination of photos. Subs dont hang around without moving for years at a time. They patrol.
      If its actually true that this technology works, it would work because of differances in pics compared to static features like a shipwreck.
      • by drudd (43032)
        The point is that if it's technically feasible, then you would launch specialized military satellites designed to find subs in real-time rather than using publically available data.
        • by c6gunner (950153)
          Not only that, in the meantime, and for a much lower cost, you could simply mount a camera on a Poseidon [wikipedia.org], hook it into a computer, and fly patrols over areas you're worried about.
    • by DarkOx (621550)

      If true, this guy just obsoleted the submarine. But by the same token, I don't think we'd be hearing about it if it were true. Any number of security agencies would have pounced on him by now.
      Umm, No he just obsoleted some uses of the submarine. Just because you can find it without one does not mean you still don't have to use one to go get to it.
  • by hedley (8715) <hedley@pacbell.net> on Saturday June 02, 2007 @11:48PM (#19368357) Journal

    Mariana trench is only about 10900 meters. Whats he imaging at 16000? Sounds a bit crusty to me.

    H.
    • He probably left out a decimal point or some other mundane detail.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by mce (509)

      The 16000 meters claim does not say that he did that, it only says that the software can. Like in: "This is the physics involved, this is what we can get on terms of picture quality, and based on all that the maximum we can do would be 16000. And it turns out we're lucky that the ocean ain't that deep anywhere."

      Having said that, I still don't believe it.

    • There's only one possible thing at that depth - Cthulhu!
  • i call bullshit (Score:3, Insightful)

    by timmarhy (659436) on Saturday June 02, 2007 @11:51PM (#19368371)
    "analyze satellite photographs at different wavelengths"

    he's popped this in to sound clever, but the reality all he could have done is take exisiting data the same as whats on google earth and examined the colour gradients in an attempt to identify shapes which could possibly be a sunken ship. problem is the resolution on those photo's is WAY too low to identify a ship let alone confidently proclaim to know WHICH ship it is.

    in other words he's an attention seeking moron. i'll take that back when he goes there's a brings back some proof. i'm confident he won't

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)
      The other problem is that UV and x-ray don't penetrate the atmosphere and IR is mostly absorbed in the first few centimetres of water (not to mention ground).

      Even visible, which is what you'd use for examining "colour gradients" in Google Earth won't show you anything unless your ship happens to be sitting in shallow water, in which case someone would have tripped over it (almost literally) long ago.
  • by l2718 (514756) on Saturday June 02, 2007 @11:55PM (#19368387)
    in IR, UV and X-ray frequencies ... so what radiation is he seeing from 3km under the water? (not to speak of 75m into the earth). Theory is nice and fine, but until it is verified by experiment I'd take it with a grain of salt.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by de_valentin (934164)
      Exactly, A year ago I had a lecture by a professor of the Delft university in Radar interferometry, they are at the absolute forefront in these kind of things. One of the things that impressed me the most was that they were able to see a few meters into the desert sand (because it was loosely packed), this gave them images of ancient caravan routes. Water on the other hand is reflecting radar very well and therefor making it impossible to see under water. So yeah i would say this definitely is a hoax. And n
  • by constantnormal (512494) on Sunday June 03, 2007 @12:02AM (#19368409)
    ... with imagery that is publicly obtainable, then it is almost a certainty that with the more detailed imagery at various specific wavelengths available from spy satellites, real-time tracking of submarines -- as well as monitoring of various subterranean activities should have been possible for years. In particular, we should have been able to determine where Saddam's supposed hidden facilities were -- or that they were nonexistent -- and we should also be able to determine with a high degree of accuracy, the exact location of the Iranian nuclear weapons production facilities.

    Unless, of course, a British archeologist has outdone the entire technical expertise of the NSA and CIA. But that would make them look pretty much like bumbling civil servants rather than the sleuthing savants that we are led to believe they are.
    • Unless, of course, a British archeologist has outdone the entire technical expertise of the NSA and CIA. But that would make them look pretty much like bumbling civil servants rather than the sleuthing savants that we are led to believe they are.

      So... you believe him then?
    • by dbIII (701233)

      In particular, we should have been able to determine where Saddam's supposed hidden facilities were

      Apparently there were over sixteen thousand of them at one point. There really is no point moving off into the realms of fantasy when talking about this article however - the pre-war propaganda cooked up by public relations people to fool congress has been revealed as such and it's time to move on.

    • by Phil-14 (1277)
      Or it may be possible that someone in one of the western intelligence agencies, or elsewhere, knows the location of the ship and wants to leak its location without disclosing technical means. so they find some retired archaeologist to say "OOH, I found this using x-ray analysis of visible-light satellite photographs..."

      I mean, X-rays?

      If he has really found it, I doubt it's by the method he's outlined above.
  • Let's get it on with the underwater UFO bases already!! ... they *are* there, right?
  • LOLOL (Score:2, Funny)

    by Spazntwich (208070)
    Whale, I don't know whether or knot his clams of being able to sea that deep will hold water, but he's certainly making waves in his scientific turf, or is that surf, anyway.
  • This is obviously a hoax. The sea isn't even that deep in its deepest spots and there is no way that usable light will get down there and back up again and still yield a remotely usable image through all the turbulence and suspended muck.

    Noah's Ark Found! Noah's Ark!
  • by Black Parrot (19622) on Sunday June 03, 2007 @12:57AM (#19368607)
    of foil to the hat.
  • by Pizaz (594643) on Sunday June 03, 2007 @01:23AM (#19368705)
    Then supposedly a more real time version of this software using up to date satellite feeds could detect all of the submarines "hiding" in the oceans? Hoax?
  • hard to believe.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MisterQ (60710) on Sunday June 03, 2007 @02:26AM (#19369003)
    Having Scuba Dived regular on 100-150 ft deep wrecks, I too find this a little hard to believe. Even at that depth the amount of light getting through, the colour of the "wreck" and so on, would suggest that this is unlikely, even more so at greater depths. And that was in the pristine waters of PNG.

    We found that the best mechanisms for finding as yet unfound wrecks were plain old research. We requested and got a copy of the microfilms of the WW2 records for the area from the US Archives. Slowly and meticulously (reading Microfilm projected onto the fridge door), following each report, we ultimately ended up finding around half a dozen new wrecks. The report of a Corsair that clipped a tree, while trying to line up for the airstrip, and spun into the bay, prompted a search for a tree stump, and and following a logical path to the airstrip, a probably location - sure enough a deep dive (180 ft - lots of decompression) found it. Biggest coup was the talk of an abandoned airstrip on a remote island in the Solomon Islands. Sure enough, worked out roughly where, found a single like reference to the "local name" for it, and sure enough, found three WWII fighters still sitting at the end of a punched metal runway, as if waiting for orders...

    As someone said, an archaeologist developing software that the spooks, and/or mining types haven't been able to. That's a bit far fetched.

    I would suggest "text scans" of historical documents may be more useful.

    q
  • by tezza (539307) on Sunday June 03, 2007 @03:54AM (#19369361)
    I worked on an internet startup with a guy who turned out to be a conman. The startup tanked when the conman ran away with the investors' cash.

    One of his other favourite cons was the Deep Sea Gold..... While running the startup-con, he was also trying to start this con on the same investors.

    He would claim to have intimate knowledge of an ancient wreck somewhere. There was the lure of lots of gold. All that the investors needed to do was stump up some cash to hire dive-boats and a little sundry, and they would get all the gold retrieved.

    This guy had fake Lordships [where you buy a tiny plot of land in Britain and get the title] and fake ids. But in essence the fact that the wreck was out to sea and the investors didn't have an independent source of verification made the con a good one. The investors put in lots of cash, some deep sea divers were hired, but the fictitious wreck remained undiscovered long enough for the conman to drain all the cash from the investors. Then the conman disappeared back to whatever country he had never fled to before. No cash, now wreck, no gold, no money.

    So now I'm always wary of deep sea discoveries... Special software to spot wrecks from the comfort of Google Maps and your couch??? The conmen will have a field-day if people start to believe this. Not saying this guy is wrong, but how soon until other people leech his achievements?

  • Nonsense (Score:5, Informative)

    by b00le (714402) <.interference. .at. .libero.it.> on Sunday June 03, 2007 @04:42AM (#19369535) Homepage
    This is nonsense: I work in the earth observation satellite industry and there are no ultraviolet or x-ray sensors on earth observation satellites (for obvious reasons - the earth does not emit x-rays, and UV is absorbed by the atmosphere.)
    Optical sensors can see at most a few metres [eurimage.com] into clear water. At infrared wavelengths water is black and opaque. "Light passes through matter"? No, it doesn't. Didn't The Times use to have a science correspondent?
  • My first thought when I read it, was "HOLY $H*^! I WONDER WHAT HE COULD FIND IN THE BERMUDA TRIANGLE!"

    Then I realized it was probably a hoax. The media is excited by news of wrecks, after that recent $500M find.

If the facts don't fit the theory, change the facts. -- Albert Einstein

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