Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Government Gone Soft, Recalling the International Geophysical Year

In a classic example of the projection of the left, President Obama has claimed America’s manufacturing sector has gone “a little soft” when it is actually government that has gone flaccid. Let us look at the record from International Geophysical Year July 1, 1957 to December 31, 1958. In the aftermath of the Suez Crisis and the brutal repression of the Hungarian Revolution in 1956, America’s government led a peaceful expansion of the world’s body of knowledge about our home planet. Two of the associated efforts of that era echo through time right up to today’s headlines. Atmospheric research and offshore drilling are outgrowths of that time period.

Given the debate about anthropogenic global warming, the actual database of the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the Keeling Curve, is based on a continuous monitoring that has taken place at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii since 1958. Al Gore would not have any slides for his PowerPoint presentation without that data. Of course global warming (Oooops, “climate change”!) enthusiasts don’t have much respect for respectable data collection what with “hiding the decline” etc. And they certainly do not wish to debate The Granularity of Climate Models. So could it be the government scientists that have gone a little soft, not the nation’s engineers?

The offshore drilling industry that reached the headlines with the ill-fated Deepwater Horizon is the direct descendent of Project Mohole. While actual drilling operations began is 1961, the work on the drill ship CUSS1 began in 1956.

CUSS1 taken from Wikipedia

My father did the design work on its dynamic positioning system that allowed the ship to drill through the Earth's crust into the Mohorovičić discontinuity, and to provide an Earth science complement to the high profile Space Race. The project was initially led by the American Miscellaneous Society (AMSOC) with funding from the National Science Foundation. As the Wikipedia article notes, CUSS1 was owned by Global Marine, a company that gained a bit of notoriety for another ship, the Hughes Glomar Explorer. Which under the cover story of searching for manganese nodules on the seabed recovered part of a sunken Soviet ballistic submarine, the K-129, from the floor of the Pacific Ocean in 1974. The water was more than 3 miles deep. The ship still exists and is now owned by Transocean. Of course, it is an old war horse that has largely been superceded by Modular Offshore Drilling Units (MODU) like the Deepwater Horizon.

So can you tell us once again exactly who it is that has gone a little soft?


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