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Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Cockroaches

Cockroaches are disgusting, yet quite fascinating! Here are some fun cockroach facts: 

Cockroaches are cannibals 
They aren't fussy eaters and will eat pretty much anything available to them. Although they prefer sweets, meats and starches, they are also known to consume other items such as hair, books, decaying matter, feces and other stuff too numerous to mention. They will also eat each other under the right conditions. When cockroach infestations reach large numbers and food is scarce they will turn cannibal as both a source of food and to help reduce population size. 

Lifespan 
The average lifespan of an American cockroach is approximately one year, but evidence suggests that these insects have been around for a very, very long time. Penn State College of Agricultural Science says that fossil evidence shows that cockroaches have existed since forever! Even cavemen had to endure cockroach infestations in their homes! 

Nuclear explosions 
The theory that cockroaches can survive a nuclear explosion is a myth. The myth first appeared after Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 where cockroaches were the only survivors. However, MythBusters put an end to this myth by testing the effect 3 levels of radiation have on German cockroaches. They discovered that cockroaches can’t actually survive a nuclear explosion as none of the crawling insects survived radiation levels of 100,000 rads, but they can endure far greater levels of radiation than humans. 

Cockroaches can squeeze through the smallest of cracks 
...just like rats and mice. Because of their exoskeletons cockroaches are able to fit through a gap as small as a quarter of their body height by flattening their flexible exoskeletons and splaying their legs to the side. 

They can cause asthma 
Cockroaches contain a protein that is an allergen for many people. Studies have shown that cockroaches have been linked to triggering asthma as well as other allergies. The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology explains that the saliva, feces and shed body parts of cockroaches can trigger asthma when they are kicked up in the air. 

Cockroaches can live for approximately one week without a head 
Unlike us, cockroaches don’t need their mouths to breathe. They use spiracles (tiny holes) in their body to inhale and transport oxygen. Combine this with the ability to survive without food for a month and you have an insect that can last without it’s head for a week. 

Cockroaches can hold their breath 
….for 40 minutes and can survive underwater for 30 minutes. Cockroaches don't use their mouths to breath but use small tubes in their body called spiracles. These are also used to transport water vapor out of their body if they need to conserve water they will simply keep the tubes shut.

Cockroach speed 
They are often prey and only have one defense mechanism...speed. Cockroaches can run up to speeds of 1.5 meters per second which converts to 3.4 miles per hour, roughly human walking speed. If you're six feet tall, 10 miles per hour probably doesn't feel very fast. But what if you were just six inches tall, like a squirrel? Relative to the size of your body 10 mph would be quite a bit faster. This site shows the top speeds of animals, and how fast they would be going if they were your size, i.e. what their speed feels like to them. What's It Like To Be An Animal 

Cockroaches can’t fly very well 
Their wings only allow them to glide and flutter for short distances. It is much quicker for a cockroach to scurry to get to where they're going than it is for them to fly. 

Cockroaches love beer 
Studies have shown that cockroaches are quite fond of beer because they are attracted to the sugars and hops found in beer.

Monday, August 27, 2018

As Seen On TV

Friday, August 17, 2018

Cops Gone Wild

Police use Taser on 87-year-old woman cutting dandelions with a knife. 

     Yes, it's true. An 87-year-old grandmother using a knife to cut dandelions in the woods near her rural Georgia home last week was taken down by a police Taser and arrested. 
     The woman was arrested for criminal trespass and obstruction of a police officer when she did not drop a steak knife despite several commands and a demonstration by officers. At one point, she walked toward officers with the knife, police said. 
     Police had gone to a wooded area near a Boys and Girls Club after an employee called 911 to report that an elderly woman was walking around with a knife and she wouldn't leave. The caller advised the 911 operator that she had communicated that she didn't speak English. The caller also advised the dispatcher that the woman did not seem to be a threat. 
     Two officers along with the Police Chief arrived and repeatedly asked the elderly woman to drop the knife and, get this...according to the police report her demeanor was calm, even when the police drew their guns on her. 
     Officers began making hand gestures to indicate dropping a knife, but the woman still did not comply and when she began to walking toward them and got five yards away, still holding the knife, she was tasered, pulled to her feet, handcuffed and arrested her. 

     The two Chatsworth, Georgia police officers and Chief Josh Etheridge are probably proud of the way they handled this dangerous felon who was coming at them with a knife and the restraint they showed in dropping her with a taser and not pumping her full of bullets.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Confusing Toilet Paper Math

     Bought any toilet paper lately? If so, have you been confused? For example, Angel Soft brand offers paper in various sized rolls. 

Regular – 132 sheets 
Big – 198 sheets 
Double – 264 sheets 
Jumbo – 286 sheets 
Triple – 396 sheets 
Mega – 528 sheets 

     And, they are packaged in a way that's confusing. For years toilet paper manufacturers have been selling less product and masking the shrinkage with hyperbole and claims that are difficult to figure out. 
     According to marketing professor at Harvard Business School, they get away with it because consumers have a better grasp of how much an item costs than they do of the size it should be. Meaning, if consumers think something should cost a dollar and another one costs $0.90, in their minds the latter is the better deal. They rarely take into account the size of the product. 
     All it takes is for one company to make its product smaller and every other company is forced to do the same thing because if they don't it makes their product appear to be more expensive. 
     When it comes to toilet paper for example, Angel Soft boasts that its double roll has 60 percent more sheets than Charmin Ultra’s double roll. Both brands have a lot of different sizes, but the number of sheets isn't the only factor to consider; sheet size and thickness are also factors. 
     When Consumer Reports contacted some manufacturers to find out what’s behind the toilet paper roll shrinkage some companies said it was, get this, their products had become so good that consumers need less of it than they used to! Somewhat more honest was Kimberly-Clark. Smaller rolls were due to rising costs for manufacturing and distribution, but they added that innovations yielded a better, stronger tissue, so that you need fewer sheets. Procter and Gamble’s spin was reducing the number of sheets actually enabled the company to improve the quality of its product. The less is more approach. 
     Another ploy aimed to confuse the consumer is to advertise not just single and double rolls but mega, triple, and jumbo variations and other sizes. Reminds me of the time I walked into a fast food restaurant and ordered a small Coke. I was informed that, “We don't sell small drinks.” “What?” was my reply. The clerk explained they have medium, large and extra-large. When I asked, “Then wouldn't the medium be the small one?” It drew a blank look. 
     What most of us do is pick the giant package that barely fits into the shopping cart assuming it must be the best deal. The truth is manufacturers are TRYING to confuse us. They want us to get frustrated when trying to figure out the best deal and just grab the first familiar name we see. The more confused you are, the more likely you are to resort to one of the most familiar brands.
     How do you compare all the options to determine which is the best buy when there are, for example, 11 different size packages of just one variety of Charmin Ultra Soft on display? 
     You can check the fine print on dozens of packages and compare the number of rolls in that particular package to how many “regular” rolls it is the equivalent of. But, what's a regular roll? In fact, you can hardly find one and if you do it looks like a mini-roll. The package is only slightly over 6 inches tall and there's a meager 71 sheets on it. The company is comparing it to a virtually non-existent product that people are no longer familiar with. 
     Toilet paper companies aren't the only ones who do that. One day before I retired I compared my home internet speed which was touted as "high speed internet" to what I was getting on my work computer and was shocked at how slow my home computer was compared to my work computer. When I called the ISP and told the representative something was wrong, upon questioning he made a confession. "High speed" was being compared to dial-up speed. Who has dial-up internet anymore? 
     The trick is to make you think you are getting more than you really are. While the big second number always relates to “regular” rolls, the first number does not relate to the same size roll. Sometimes it means double rolls, double rolls “plus,” mega rolls, or mega rolls “plus.” 
     All these “sizes” are made up and have a constantly changing number of sheets on each roll. For example, one roll has 352 sheets per roll and the other 326, yet they are both called “double plus” rolls. They are engaged in deliberate deception. 
     You can Google “toilet paper cost calculator” and find many calculators available, but there's an easier way if you're in the store and have a small calculator handy. Most phones have them and even my watch has one, assuming your fingers are small enough to use it. 
     To determine the best price on toilet paper you need to figure out the price per square foot per package. Forget about the price per roll! 
     First, find the total square feet listed somewhere on the package. Divide the number of square feet into the price of the package. 
     While on the subject of toilet paper, the packaging on many wipes, those toilet-paper supplements, says they are flushable or safe for sewers and septic tanks. THEY ARE NOT!! They don't break down and flush properly nor do they disintegrate in the pipes. A plumber once told me they make a good deal of money snaking out toilets into which people have flushed so called disposable wipes. 
     Kleenex should not be flushed either because they are designed to stay together when wet, and absorb moisture, so they take too long to break down in the sewer system and can cause blockages.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

There's A Coyote In The Woods

     Generally when one thinks of coyotes, one thinks of the western United States, but they are all over. This wily predator has always been present in the state of Ohio and there is at least one living in the woods behind my house.
     They began showing up in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. They’re everywhere from Alaska to Chicago to Central America. The reason you may not see them frequently is based on the fact that, while curious, they are generally fearful of human beings. 
     The coyote, a canine native to North America, is a prominent character in Native American folklore, mainly in the Southwestern United States and Mexico, usually depicted as a trickster that alternately assumes the form of an actual coyote or a man. As with other trickster figures, the coyote uses deception and humor to rebel against social conventions. After the European colonization of the Americas, it was reviled in Anglo-American culture as a cowardly and untrustworthy animal. Even today attitudes towards the coyote remain largely negative. 
They hide in plain sight and are rarely seen

     Humans are the coyote's greatest threat, followed by cougars and gray wolves. In spite of this, coyotes sometimes mate with gray, eastern, or red wolves, producing "coywolf" hybrids. It is smaller than its close relative, the gray wolf, and slightly smaller than the closely related eastern wolf and red wolf. 
     Coyote fur color is predominantly light gray and red or reddish yellow interspersed with black and white. Coyotes live in either in a family unit or in loosely knit packs of unrelated individuals. It has a varied diet consisting primarily of animal meat, including deer, rabbits, hares, rodents, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and invertebrates, though it may also eat fruits and vegetables on occasion. 
     Coyotes do not hunt in packs, a common misconception from people confusing them with wolves. They do travel in families with pups, and family units can be quite large as coyotes give birth to litters of four to seven pups. 
     Its characteristic vocalization is a howl made by solitary individuals and has been described as "the most vocal of all wild North American mammals. Its loudness and range of vocalizations was the cause for its binomial name Canis latrans, meaning "barking dog". A misconception about coyotes is the noise they’re famous for. When a coyote yips, barks or howls, more often than not, it’s a single mammal communicating, not a pack of wild beasts seeking out human victims. 
     At least 11 different vocalizations are known in adult coyotes. These sounds are divided into three categories: agonistic and alarm, greeting, and contact. Vocalizations of the first category include woofs, growls, huffs, barks, bark howls, yelps, and high-frequency whines. 


     Woofs are used as low-intensity threats or alarms, and are usually heard near den sites, prompting the pups to immediately retreat into their burrows.
     Growls are used as threats at short distances, but have also been heard among pups playing and copulating males. 
     Huffs are high-intensity threat vocalizations produced by rapid expiration of air. 
     Barks can be classed as both long-distance threat vocalizations and as alarm calls. Bark howls may serve similar functions. 
     Yelps are emitted as a sign of submission, while high-frequency whines are produced by dominant animals acknowledging the submission of subordinates.
     Greeting vocalizations include low-frequency whines, 'wow-oo-wows', and group yip howls. Low-frequency whines are emitted by submissive animals, and are usually accompanied by tail wagging and muzzle nibbling. The sound known as 'wow-oo-wow' has been described as a "greeting song". 
     The group yip howl is emitted when two or more pack members reunite, and may be the final act of a complex greeting ceremony. Contact calls include lone howls and group howls, as well as the previously mentioned group yip howls.
     The lone howl is the most iconic sound of the coyote, and may serve the purpose of announcing the presence of a lone individual separated from its pack. Group howls are used as both substitute group yip howls and as responses to either lone howls, group howls, or group yip howls. 
     Very rarely does a conflict take place between a human and a coyote, but hat's not to say the can't be dangerous. In the absence of the harassment of coyotes practiced by rural people, urban coyotes are losing their fear of humans, which is further worsened by people intentionally or unintentionally feeding coyotes. In such situations, some coyotes have begun to act aggressively toward humans, chasing joggers and bicyclists, confronting people walking their dogs, and stalking small children. 
     Non-rabid coyotes in these areas sometimes target small children, mostly under the age of 10, though some adults have been bitten. Coyote attacks on humans are uncommon and rarely cause serious injuries, due to the relatively small size of the coyote, but have been increasingly frequent, especially in California. 
     There have been only two confirmed fatal attacks: one on a three-year-old Glendale, California and another on a nineteen-year-old in Nova Scotia, Canada. In the 30 years leading up to 2006, at least 160 attacks occurred in the United States, mostly in the Los Angeles County area. 
     Although media reports of such attacks generally identify the animals as simply "coyotes", research indicates those involved in attacks in northeast North America, including Pennsylvania, New York, New England, and eastern Canada, may have actually been coywolves, hybrids of wolves and coyotes. 
     A coyote barking at someone or following them at a distance is just letting a person know they are in their territory and may be getting a little too close to their home. 
      In urban areas they are attracted to pet food, bird feeders, loose pets, exposed garbage and threatening behavior to their territory and their young, lead to incidents. Many of the things that attract chipmunks, squirrels, small birds and mice will attract coyotes because they eat small animals. And, their diet is so flexible that they seek out those same foods, too. 
     An average male coyote is about the size of a medium-sized dog, about 37 pounds, with adult females weighing about 32 pounds. Though small, and not overly aggressive, coyotes are still wild animals and should not be approached. Clapping, yelling and waving scares them off. 
     Coyotes in rural areas can be controlled through legal hunting and trapping methods. Prior to the mid-19th century, coyote fur was considered worthless. This changed with the decrease in the number of beavers and by 1860, the hunting of coyotes for their fur became a great source of income or wolfers in the Great Plains. Coyote pelts were of significant economic importance during the early 1950s, ranging in price from $5 to $25 per pelt. 
     Coyote's fur is not durable enough to make rugs, but can be used for coats and jackets, scarves, or muffs. The majority of pelts are used for making trimmings, such as coat collars and sleeves for women's clothing. Coyote fur is sometimes dyed black as imitation silver fox. 
     Coyotes were occasionally eaten by trappers and mountain men during the western expansion and were sometimes featured in the feasts of the Plains Indians, and coyote pups were eaten by the indigenous people of San Gabriel, California. The taste of coyote meat has been likened to that of the wolf, and is more tender than pork when boiled. Coyote fat, when taken in the fall, has been used on occasion to grease leather or eaten as a spread. 
     There's no coyote-specific hunting season in Ohio, Emmert said. People can hunt coyotes all year, with no bag limit, but individual governments have restrictions on trapping and hunting.

Monday, August 6, 2018

The North Pole

     At my location the current temperature is 87 degrees F. At the North Pole it's cloudy, the temperature is 1 degree F. and there is a light breeze. 
     The "North Pole" has multiple meanings; it can refer to the geographically northernmost point on Earth or the spot where compasses point. And, it can refer to Santa Claus' headquarters. 
     This post is about the northernmost point on Earth where the Earth's axis intersects with its surface. Its latitude is 90 degrees north, and all longitudinal lines meet there. From there, every direction one turns is south. Because all longitudinal lines begin from it, the North Pole has no time zone. 
     The pole is surrounded by the Arctic Ocean, where the water is 13,400 feet deep and usually covered with drifting ice 6-to-10 feet thick. About 434 light-years above the pole lies Polaris, the "North Star." During the course of the night, Polaris does not rise or set, but remains in very nearly the same spot above the northern axis year-round while the other stars circle around it. The star has been an important marker for navigation for centuries. 
USS Pargo at North Pole in 1993

     Interesting fact: Over time, the location of the North Pole changes slightly because the Earth's axis has a slight wobble, and since the pole intersects with the axis, it wobbles along with it. Scientists have calculated that the pole wobbles about 30 feet over seven years. The precise point of the pole at any given moment is known as the instantaneous pole. 
     Since the year 2000, the pole has been moving steadily eastward by about 75 degrees, heading toward the Prime Meridian that runs through Greenwich, England, according to a scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. The axis has shifted about 4 inches per year. 
     Scientists suspect that rapidly melting ice sheets have caused a redistribution of mass. Melting ice moves mass around by adding water to the oceans and lightening the load on ice-covered crust, according to a 2005 Live Science article. 
     Because of Earth's tilted axis, the North Pole experiences only one sunrise and one sunset every year, at the March and September equinoxes. During the summer, there is sunlight all day; during the winter, it is always dark. 
     During the winter, the Geographic North Pole's annual mean temperature is minus 40 Fahrenheit and in the summer it's 32 F. Though not warm, it is considerably warmer than in the land-based South Pole in Antarctica, because the North Pole is over water. 
     Research stations have reported cyclones at the North Pole and in recent years ice melt and cracks which some say is due to Global Warming and has caused some scientists to predict that ships will be able to sail directly over the North Pole by the year 2050. It's also claimed that the Arctic ice sheet will be thin enough for ice breakers to carve a straight path between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. Yet another study predicts that by the end of the 21st century, the Northern Sea Route could be navigable for more than half the year. We'll see. 
     The Arctic has experienced major ice decline within the last decade. Typically, the ice follows a seasonal cycle when in the spring and summer months warmer temperatures cause the ice floating on top of the Arctic Ocean to shrink. Then as the temperatures drop in the fall and winter months, the ice cover grows again until it reaches its yearly maximum extent, typically in March.
     In 2017, a combination of warmer-than-average temperatures, winds unfavorable to ice expansion, and a series of storms halted sea ice growth in the Arctic. On March 7, 2017, Arctic sea ice reached a new record low for wintertime. Overall, the ice reached just 5.57 million square miles which is 37,000 sq miles smaller than the previous record low set in 2015. This is equivalent to losing a chunk of sea ice bigger than Mexico. Hence, all the panic.
     The most frequent inhabitants of the Arctic are migratory birds, such as the the Arctic tern, which has the longest migration of any bird, traveling 43,000 miles round trip from the North to South Pole every year! Caribou and Arctic foxes do not venture to the North Pole and polar bears rarely go there. Under the ice there are small crustaceans, shrimp, sea anemones and several species of fish, the most common being the Arctic cod. Marine mammals such as narwhals and other whales rarely venture so far north, though ring seals have been spotted occasionally. 
     In the early 20th century, two explorers each claimed to have reached the North Pole first. An American physician, Frederick Cook, announced in September 1909 that he and two Inuit companions had reached the pole on April 21, 1908. A week later, American explorer Robert E. Peary claimed to have reached the North Pole on April 6, 1909, accompanied by Matthew Henson, the first African-American Arctic explorer, and four Inuit men. 
     Peary had powerful sponsors, including The New York Times and the National Geographic Society, which had funded the expedition. Peary, who had made two previous attempts to reach the pole, called Cook a fraud. To make their case, the men published accounts of their journeys in a booklet titled At the Pole With Cook and Peary, which became a bestseller and helped sway public opinion.
     Over the years, the controversy simmered. New research in 1988 revealed that Peary's claim might have been suspect due to the lack of navigational experience on his team; the fact that after the one person who had navigational experience left the team, they reported traveling at twice the speed; that one member's route description differed from Peary's; and that Peary never made his records available for review. 
     In 2005, British explorer Tom Avery mimicked Peary's route using dog sleds, and reached the pole, suggesting that Peary's records might have been accurate. The Peary vs. Cook debate remains controversial to this day. 
     Since their time many expeditions to the North Pole have taken place by plane, by foot and by dog sled. In 1926, American explorer and retired Navy admiral Richard Byrd claimed that he and his pilot, Floyd Bennett, had flown over the North Pole. The National Geographic Society, one of his sponsors, confirmed the accomplishment. Byrd was hailed as a hero, given the Medal of Honor and went on to fly over the South Pole, as well as achieving many other polar expedition milestones. 
     However, Byrd's story came into question almost immediately. Many did not think his airplane could have covered the distance in just 15 hours and 44 minutes. New research, published in 2013 suggests that Byrd missed the North Pole goal by as much as 80 miles. 
     The first verifiable expedition to the pole is credited to Roald Amundsen, a Norwegian explorer. In 1903, Amundsen led the first expedition to cross the Northwest Passage. And in May 1926 (just a few days after Byrd's flight), Amundsen floated over the pole in a dirigible with 15 other men. Other important firsts: 

* April 23, 1948: Three Soviet crews land the first planes at the pole. 
* August 3, 1958: The submarine USS Nautilus is the first naval vessel to reach the pole. 
* April 19, 1968: Ralph Plaisted of Minnesota reaches the pole by snowmobile. 
* 1968-1969: Wally Herbert reached the pole by dogsled (the first person to reach it on foot). 
* August 17, 1977: The Soviet nuclear-powered icebreaker Arktika was the first surface ship to reach the pole. 
* May 1, 1986: The first expedition to reach the pole on foot without resupply includes Ann Bancroft, the first woman to travel to the pole. 
* 2007: British lawyer and endurance swimmer Lewis Gordon Pugh swam 18 minutes for one kilometer in the Arctic Ocean at the North Pole. His feat, accomplished wearing only a swim brief, was done to draw public attention to the melting ice caps. 

     No country owns the North Pole as it is in international waters. The closest land is Canadian territory Nunavut, followed by Greenland. That hasn't stopped Russia, Denmark and Canada from staking claims to the mountainous Lomonosov Ridge that runs under the pole. In 2007, Russia sent the first submersible to reach the seabed under the North Pole and dropped a titanium flag there. In 2013, Canada announced plans to submit a proposal to the United Nations claiming the North Pole as part of Canadian territory. 

     The Magnetic North Pole is several hundreds of miles south of the Geographic North Pole. Earth's iron core and movement within its outer part generates a magnetic field, and the magnetic North and South poles are where the field is vertical. Compasses point to the magnetic North Pole. 
     Interestingly, magnetic field sources are dipolar, having a north and south magnetic pole. Because Earth's Magnetic North Pole attracts the "north" ends of other magnets, it is technically the "south pole" of the planet's magnetic field.
     The difference between the “real” North Pole and the Magnetic North Pole is called declination. Declination itself is a fascinating topic.  Refer to the excellent Wikipedia article on it HERE.  
     Since its discovery in 1831, the Magnetic North Pole has been around Canada's Ellesmere Island, about 500 miles from the Geographic North Pole. But the magnetic field drifts, causing the angle of declination to change over time. Currently the Magnetic North Pole is moving about 25 miles a year in a northwest direction which is a faster rate than it has moved since tracking began in the 1830s. The change could cause problems for migrating birds and human navigation. 
     Eventually, the magnetic North and South poles will move to the point that they "flip" and compasses would point south. This change will happen slowly; the last "flip" occurred 730,000 years ago. 

     As for Santa living at the true North Pole along with his flying reindeer and toy-making elves and Canada's postal service giving the postal code HOH OHO to letters addressed to Santa, that claim has been disputed, most notably by Finland. The Fins claim Santa lives in Lapland. The truth is, Santa, flying reindeer and elves don't exist. 

How To Visit The North Pole  (including pricing)
Curious Circles in Arctic Sea Ice

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Glomar Explorer Hoax

     In August 1974, the United States undertook a top-secret mission that one CIA document disclosed in 2010 "ranks in the forefront of imaginative and bold operations undertaken in the long history of intelligence collection." 
     Project AZORIAN was a collaboration among the CIA and private firms to recover a sunken Soviet submarine from the the Pacific Ocean some 1,500 miles northwest of Hawaii. The ballistic missile submarine had sunk years before, killing all aboard in March 1968. It was diesel-powered, but US intelligence suspected the vessel was armed with nuclear weapons. If it was indeed carrying nuclear weapons the U.S. could learn a lot about Soviet capabilities by recovering the sub. Fortunately for the U.S. the Soviets did not know the submarine's location. 
     At the time of it sinking the sub was one of the Soviet navy’s most modern ballistic missile submarines and had sunk about 1,500 miles northwest of Oahu after an onboard explosion. Although it was believed that it contained valuable intelligence sources such as cryptographic equipment and nuclear technology, there was no way to recover a 1,750-ton sub that was more than three miles deep. 
     The CIA's solution was to have Howard Hughes' Glomar Explorer, which was equipped with a giant eight-fingered claw grab it and haul it to the surface. Global Marine Development, a Hughes company, agreed to conceal the ship's true mission using a cover story: the Glomar Explorer was a specially built ship to explore the then-new field of deep-water oil drilling. 
     For a cover story, the CIA turned to the eccentric multimillionaire defense contractor Howard Hughes and the ship's construction was passed off as an experiment for mining manganese nodules from the ocean floor. Since Hughes was known to be eccentric, secretive and to embrace odd projects, the CIA’s hope was that the project was be regarded as just another one strange undertaking from Howard Hughes. The ruse was so successful that several companies took the idea seriously and invested in nodule mining. 
     The project was questionable from the beginning. In 1972, Admiral Moorer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote a memo that recommended dropping the mission “because of decreased intelligence value of the target with the passage of time" and mounting costs. Deputy Secretary of Defense Kenneth Rush only estimated the project's chance of success at 20 to 30 percent. 
     Those recommendations notwithstanding, Richard Helms, Director of Central Intelligence Richard Helms, was worried if the CIA backed out it would hurt the CIA's standing with contractors and jeopardize future projects. President Nixon finally gave the project a green-light. 
     With the design, cover story and CIA funding in place, the Sun Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company in Chester, Pennsylvania started construction which was completed on June 1, 1973. The ship cost more than $350 million (about two billion in today's dollars). At 619 feet long the Explorer’s massively reinforced hull was larger than most Second World War battleships and aircraft carriers. Never formally commissioned into the U.S. Navy the ship was government property, the Hughes story notwithstanding. 
     The ship resembled an oil-drilling ship, but the sub was to be grabbed by a three mile long string of 30-foot long sections of pipe similar to that used in oil well drilling. The equipment itself weighed 4,000 tons. The forward half of the submarine, half buried in sediment at the ocean bottom, would be dragged free and hauled up to the surface, one length of drill pipe at a time. 
     In order for this to happen, much of the Explorer’s midsection was taken up with equipment custom-designed for the submarine recovery, including two towering gantries and a massive pyramidal derrick system with a capacity of 7,000 tons. All of this was stabilized in three dimensions on massive gimbals and a hydraulically operated compensator, designed to keep the rig vertical and at the same level despite the motion of the sea. The real secret was a 200-foot long “moon pool,” a dry-dock like space where the ship’s bottom would retract, allowing the sub to be hoisted up into the Explorer’s hull for examination. 
Clementine
     A massive hydraulically operated grapple, nicknamed Clementine, was designed to grasp the sub's hull. There was even a special submersible barge, the HMB-1 (for “Hughes Mining Barge”), built just to make sure Clementine, which was built in California, could be brought aboard the Explorer without being seen. 
     One of the first problems encountered was that the ship was too wide to fit through the Panama so it had to sail around the southern tip of South America. When the ship docked at Valparaiso, Chile it was right in the middle of August Pinochet's violent coup on September 11th, 1973. Seven Americans technicians who had flown to Chile to join the mission and were meeting the ship were under virtual house-arrest for a few days before eventually being allowed to leave. 
     Then when it docked in Long Beach, California in November 1973, the ship landed on the bad side of about a hundred “strong-arm type” union picketers who were dissatisfied with Global Marine. For a week to ten days the ship's crew and shipboard workers were harassed, delivery trucks stopped, and special security measures had to be put into effect. The protest delayed the departure by a few weeks. And docked just a few hundred yards away were Soviet ships that didn't suspect the Glomar's true purpose. 
     Once reaching the location of the submarine, the Glomar was shadowed by the Soviet navy which on two occasions sent a helicopter to take pictures of the Glomar Explorer. Concerned that the Soviets may actually land a helicopter on their helipad, the unarmed crew put crates on the Glomar's helipad and made preparations to destroy their ship's intelligence-related equipment. On another occasion a British merchant vessel approached looking for help in treating a sick crew member. 
     When it came to the actual recovery of the Soviet sub which began on July 4, 1974) the ship itself have to be kept within a 40-foot radius, but the final positioning of the Clementine grapple had to be exact to within only two feet. That may seem like a lot, but at the bottom of the ocean on the end of three miles of wobbly drill pipe, it was extremely difficult. 
     The mission was only partly successful as most of the submarine broke off as it was being hauled up to the surface and p;lunged back to the ocean floor. In the part that was actually recovered, the Glomar's crew encountered three of the submarine crew's dead. It was later reported that 70 bodies were found and buried at sea. In the end the CIA didn't recover any useful material from the operation. 
     The story was revealed to the public after a series of leaks to the New York Times in 1975. That was at a time when the CIA was being scrutinized for a number of its nefarious undertakings. The CIA's response to Freedom of Information Act requests from the press said the government would “neither confirm nor deny” details because of potential harm to national security. 
     Its cover blown and too specialized and expensive to use for anything else, the Glomar Explorer spent the next twenty years in mothballs at the US Navy’s reserve storage facility at Suisun Bay, California, having sailed on exactly one operational voyage and completed exactly one mission. The HMB-1 was kept in storage for years before being sold to a shipyard for use as a floating dry dock for ship repairs. 
     After twenty years in mothballs, Global Marine Drilling (later part of Transocean) leased the Explorer and gave her a $180 million makeover to convert it into an oil drilling ship equiped with conventional modern drilling equipment. From 1998 through about 2013 the Explorer enjoyed a career as a deep sea drilling ship before being taken out of service, a victim of declining petroleum prices and competition from on-shore production. In April 2015 it was sold for scrap.