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August 6, 2010

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Severe flooding in Pakistan

It is only the start of the monsoon season, but already Pakistan is experiencing some of the worst flooding it has seen in over 80 years. Entire villages have been washed away, an early estimate of over 1,600 deaths so far and over 2 million displaced or otherwise affected. Not only is the immediate water damage causing havoc, the floods have inundated crop-producing areas, dealing a crippling blow to the agricultural-based economy and threatening a food crisis. The Pakistani government now struggles to rescue and provide aid to millions – while still fighting with militant Islamist forces in many of the hardest-hit regions. With even more heavy rains predicted in the coming days, here are a handful of recent photographs of Pakistanis as they cope with this latest disaster. (41 photos total)

A boy hangs on to the front of a cargo truck while passing through a flooded road in Risalpur, located in Nowshera District in Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province July 30, 2010. (REUTERS/Adrees Latif)

Men take refuge on a boat during heavy rain in Pakistan’s Nowshera District on July 29, 2010. (REUTERS/K. Parvez) #

Residents watch water pour through a street on the outskirts of Peshawar, Pakistan on July 28, 2010. (A Majeed/AFP/Getty Images) #

Pakistani villagers move to high ground escaping a flood-hit village near Nowshera, Pakistan on Thursday, July 29, 2010. (AP Photo/Mohammad Sajjad) #

Nimra, a three-year-old girl, who was rescued along with her family from Kaalam in the northern area, kisses the window glass of an army helicopter after their arrival at Khuazakhela in Swat district located in Pakistan’s northwest Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province on August 1, 2010. (REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood) #

Residents watch from a nearby hill as army helicopters rescued trapped residents from Nowshera, Pakistan on July 31, 2010. (REUTERS/Adrees Latif) #

Residents stand by flood water that entered a residential area of Muzaffarabad, Pakistan on July 30, 2010. (SAJJAD QAYYUM/AFP/Getty Images) #

An aerial view of a man and his animals surrounded by floodwater in Taunsa near Multan, Pakistan, flooded on Sunday, Aug. 1, 2010. (AP Photo/Khalid Tanveer) #

A Pakistani villager struggles to reach his village through a fast-moving flood water caused by heavy monsoon rain in Bakhtiarabad, 250 km (155 mi) north of Quetta, Pakistan on Friday, July 23, 2010. (AP Photo/Fida Hussain) #

An aerial view shows Nowshera city submerged in flooding caused by heavy monsoon rains in Pakistan on Friday, July 30, 2010. (AP Photo/Mohammad Sajjad) #

A Pakistani volunteer uses a small boat to evacuate locals in a flood-hit area of Nowshera on July 30, 2010. (A. MAJEED/AFP/Getty Images) #

Pakistani flood survivors cross a bridge near a damaged home in Medain, a town of Swat valley on August 2, 2010. (A Majeed/AFP/Getty Images) #

Pakistan army soldiers pass a baby across a channel in the floodwater as they help people flee from their flooded village following heavy monsoon rains in Taunsa, Pakistan on Sunday, Aug. 1, 2010. (AP Photo/Khalid Tanveer) #

Villagers try to catch trees floating in the flooded Nelum river in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani Kashmir on Friday, July 30, 2010. (AP Photo/Aftab Ahmed) #

Residents help a man untie a chicken from his neck after he evacuated his flooded home with the fowl by swimming to higher grounds in Nowshera, Pakistan on August 1, 2010. (REUTERS/Adrees Latif) #

A family being rescued by army soldiers passes a cargo truck with men on top taking shelter from heavy floods in Nowshera, Pakistan on July 31, 2010. (REUTERS/Adrees Latif) #

A soldier evacuating residents carries a flood victim to a helicopter in Sanawa, Pakistan’s on August 5, 2010. (REUTERS/Stringer) #

A Pakistani boy named Jeeshan stands outside his tent in a camp set up by the Pakistani army inside a college on the outskirts of Nowshera on August 2, 2010. (BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images) #

Pakistani flood survivors line up beside a damaged bridge in Medain, a town of Swat Valley on August 2, 2010. (A Majeed/AFP/Getty Images) #

A boy is flung back by the force of a Pakistan Air Force helicopter rotors as it drops water supplies to residents on August 2, 2010 in Nowshera, Pakistan. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images) #

Evacuees wade through a flooded area following heavy monsoon rains in Peshawar on Saturday, July 31, 2010. (AP Photo/Xinhua, Saeed Ahmad) #

People wait to cross a flooded road in Bannu, northwestern Pakistan on Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2010. (AP Photo/Ijaz Mohammad) #

A boy walks through flood destroyed homes on August 4, 2010 in Pabbi, near Nowshera, Pakistan. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images) #

A family portrait is seen, attached to a bookcase buried in mud on August 4, 2010 in Pabbi, Pakistan. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images) #

An aerial view of floodwater covering the land as far as the eye can see, around Taunsa near Multan, Pakistan, Sunday, Aug. 1, 2010. (AP Photo/Khalid Tanveer) #

A flood survivor carries a soaked mat in a flooded area of Nowshera on August 3, 2010. (A Majeed/AFP/Getty Images) #

A man gathers up some of his belongings outside his flooded house in Nowshera, Pakistan on August 2, 2010. (BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images) #

Pakistani women pray at sunset by the Ravi river in Lahore on August 2, 2010. (Arif Ali/AFP/Getty Images) #

A boy sits on a bed as his family members salvage belongings from their destroyed house in Pabbi, Pakistan on August 5, 2010. (REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood) #

Flood victims line up to collect relief supplies from the Army in Nowshera, Pakistan on August 2, 2010. Islamist charities, some with suspected ties to militants, stepped in on Monday to provide aid for Pakistanis hit by the worst flooding in memory, piling pressure on a government criticized for its response to the disaster that has so far killed more than 1,000 people. (REUTERS/Adrees Latif) #

Flood-affected people jostle for food relief in Nowshera in northwest Pakistan on Friday, Aug. 6, 2010. (AP Photo/Mohammad Sajjad) #

A Pakistani worker pushes back flood-stricken women who are trying to enter a relief center to get food supplies on the outskirts of Peshawar, Pakistan, Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2010. (AP Photo/Mohammad Sajjad) #

Families set in for the evening in their makeshift tent homes located on a median strip after having abandoned their flood-destroyed homes, on August 3, 2010 in Pabi, Pakistan. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images) #

Children, whose families have declined to be rescued, wade in rising flood waters on August 6, 2010 in the village of Panu Akil, near Sukkur, Pakistan. Rescue workers and armed forces continued rescue operations evacuating thousands in Pakistan’s heartland province of Sindh. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images) #

Residents evacuate to safety in a flood-hit area of Nowshera, Pakistan on July 30, 2010. (A. MAJEED/AFP/Getty Images) #

Onlookers perched on a damaged bridge watch a flood survivor use a rope to cross the river in Chakdara in Pakistan’s Swat Valley on August 3, 2010. (STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images) #

A young flood survivor cools herself with water at a makeshift camp in Nowshera, Pakistan on August 5, 2010. (FAROOQ NAEEM/AFP/Getty Images) #

A man tries to cross a makeshift bridge to escape his flooded home in Nowshera, Pakistan on July 31, 2010. (REUTERS/Adrees Latif) #

A Pakistan army helicopter evacuates stranded villagers in Nowshera, Pakistan on Friday, July 30, 2010. (AP Photo/Mohammad Sajjad) #

A family takes refuge on top of a mosque while awaiting rescue from flood waters in Sanawa, a town located in the Muzaffar Ghar district of Pakistan’s Punjab province on August 5, 2010. (REUTERS/Stringer) #

A woman yells as her child is evacuated from the roof of a mosque where residents were taking refuge from flood waters in Sanawa, Pakistan on August 5, 2010. (REUTERS/Stringer) #

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This It How It Feels to Be Under a Nuclear Attack

This It How It Feels to Be Under a Nuclear Attack

We’re used to see atomic bombs images. From afar, they even look beautiful. But when one explodes near you, that immaculate light will burn your skin and make you bleed spontaneously. 65 years ago today, this is how that felt.

On August 6, 1945, the B-29 bomber Enola Gay took off from the North Field airbase on Tinian, in the West Pacific. At 8:15, 509th Composite Group commander Colonel Paul Tibbets arrived to the destination: Hiroshima. 30 minutes before that, 2nd Lieutenant Morri Jeppson had removed all safety devices from “Little Boy”, an atomic bomb loaded with 130 pounds of uranium-235—the first to be exploded over any population in the planet. 32,333 feet below, this is what that population experienced.

300 feet from Little Boy’s explosion hypocenter.
Hiroshima, Japan

Akiko Takakura.
Age at impact: 20 years.
One of the very few who survived so near the hypocenter.

TAKAKURA: After the air-raid the alarm was called off, I walked from Hatchobori to the Bank of Hiroshima in Kamiya-cho. I arrived at the bank some time around 8:15 or so, and signed my name in the attendance book. When I was doing my morning routine, dusting the desks and things like that, the A-bomb was dropped. All I remember was that I saw something flash suddenly.

INTERVIEWER: Can you explain the flash?

This It How It Feels to Be Under a Nuclear AttackTAKAKURA: Well, it was like a white magnesium flash. I lost consciousness right after or almost at the same time I saw the flash. When I regained consciousness, I found myself in the dark. I heard my friends, Ms. Asami, crying for her mother. Soon after, I found out that we actually had been attacked. Afraid of being caught by a fire, I told Ms. Asami to run out of the building. Ms. Asami, however, just told me to leave her and to try to escape by myself because she thought that she couldn’t make it anywhere. She said she couldn’t move. I said to her that I couldn’t leave her, but she said that she couldn’t even stand up. While we were talking, the sky started to grow lighter.

Then, I heard water running in the lavatory. Apparently the water pipes had exploded. So I drew water with my helmet to pour over Ms. Asami’s head again and again. She finally regained consciousness fully and went out of the building with me. We first thought to escape to the parade grounds, but we couldn’t because there was a huge sheet of fire in front of us. So instead, we squatted down in the street next to a big water pool for fighting fires, which was about the size of this table.

Since Hiroshima was completely enveloped in flames, we felt terribly hot and could not breathe well at all. After a while, a whirlpool of fire approached us from the south. It was like a big tornado of fire spreading over the full width of the street. Whenever the fire touched, wherever the fire touched, it burned. It burned my ear and leg, I didn’t realize that I had burned myself at that moment, but I noticed it later.

INTERVIEWER: So the fire came towards you?

TAKAKURA: Yes, it did. The whirlpool of fire that was covering the entire street approached us from Ote-machi. So, everyone just tried so hard to keep away from the fire. It was just like a living hell. After a while, it began to rain. The fire and the smoke made us so thirsty and there was nothing to drink, no water, and the smoke even disturbed our eyes. As it began to rain, people opened their mouths and turned their faces towards the sky and try to drink the rain, but it wasn’t easy to catch the rain drops in our mouths. It was a black rain with big drops.

This It How It Feels to Be Under a Nuclear AttackINTERVIEWER: How big were the rain drops?

TAKAKURA: They were so big that we even felt pain when they dropped onto us. We opened our mouths just like this, as wide as possible in an effort to quench our thirst. Everybody did the same thing. But it just wasn’t enough. Someone, someone found an empty can and held it to catch the rain.

INTERVIEWER: I see. Did the black rain actually quench your thirst?

TAKAKURA: No, no it didn’t. Maybe I didn’t catch enough rain, but I still felt very thirsty and there was nothing I could do about it. What I felt at that moment was that Hiroshima was entirely covered with only three colors. I remember red, black and brown, but, but, nothing else. Many people on the street were killed almost instantly. The fingertips of those dead bodies caught fire and the fire gradually spread over their entire bodies from their fingers.

A light gray liquid dripped down their hands, scorching their fingers. I, I was so shocked to know that fingers and bodies could be burned and deformed like that. I just couldn’t believe it. It was horrible. And looking at it, it was more than painful for me to think how the fingers were burned, hands and fingers that would hold babies or turn pages, they just, they just burned away.

0.31 miles from hypocenter

Taeko Teramae.
Age at impact: 15 years old.

TERAMAE: When the bomb fell, I was 15 years old. I was a third grader at the girls’ junior high school. I saw something shining in the clear blue sky. I wondered what it was, so I stared at it. As the light grew bigger, the shining thing got bigger as well.

And at the moment when I spoke to my friend, there was a flash, far brighter than one used for a camera. It exploded right in front of my eyes. There was a tremendous noise when all the buildings around me collapsed. I also heard people crying for help and for their mothers. I was caught under something which prevented me from moving freely.

This It How It Feels to Be Under a Nuclear AttackI was so shocked that I couldn’t believe what had happened. I thought maybe I was having some kind of nightmare, but of course, I wasn’t. I felt pain when I pinched myself to see if it was real. I thought the bomb had been dropped on the central telephone office. The dust was rising and something sandy and slimy entered my mouth. I couldn’t figure out what it was since I couldn’t move or see. I couldn’t see anything in the dark.

A little later, I smelt something like sulfur. It smelt like the volcano, Mt. Aso and I threw up. I heard more voices calling “Mother! Mother!” But when our class teacher, Mr.Wakita, told us to behave like good students and stop crying, all the cries for help and for Mother stopped all of a sudden.

0.62 miles from hypocenter

Hiroko Fukada.
Age at impact: 18 years old.

INTERVIEWER: What was the color of the light?

FUKADA: I remember it was yellow. I clearly remember it now and despite the shower of glass, fortunately I didn’t have any major injuries. I thought it was hopeless because I thought the buildings directly head and I went out of the building because I thought it would be dangerous to stay inside. Soon I found soldiers walking in this direction. I was with my friends and we thought it would be safe to go with soldiers, and so we came here.

INTERVIEWER: What were the conditions outside the building?

FUKADA: Everybody was terribly injured. We were even embarrassed because we were not injured. I have no words to describe the scene. A flood of people went down this cliff just like dominoes down.

Mamoru Yukihiro.
Age at impact: 36 years old.

INTERVIEWER: Uh….how was it when you saw the ray?

YUKIHIRO: Immediately after I saw the strange yellow ray, the office was totally destroyed almost instantly, without any warning. It was as if a box of matches has suddenly been struck by a hammer and crushed to pieces. I didn’t even hear any sound. I sat still for a while, and then, I saw the sun ray come in above me. So I managed to get up, but I couldn’t find any of the 200 employees. Even though I myself had 3 wounds on my head and one on my back, I was so surprised that I walked out, I walked out onto the street with the blood running down my body. In the street, all I found were wounded people and destroyed houses.

0.74 miles from hypocenter

Akira Onogi.
Age at impact: 16 years old.

ONOGI: I was in the second year of junior high school and was mobilized work with my classmates at the Eba Plant, Mitsubishi shipbuilding. On the day when A-bomb was dropped, I happened to be taking the day off and I was staying at home. I was reading lying on the floor with a friend of mine. Under the eaves I saw blue flash of light just like a spark made by a train or some short circuit. Next, a steamlike blast came.

INTERVIEWER: From which direction?

This It How It Feels to Be Under a Nuclear AttackONOGI: Well, I’m not sure, anyway, when the blast came, my friend and I were blown into another room. I was unconscious for a while, and when I came to, I found myself in the dark. Thinking my house was directly hit by a bomb, I removed red soil and roof tiles covering me by hand and for the first time I saw the sky. I managed to go out to open space and I looked around wondering what my family were doing. I found that all the houses around there had collapsed for as far as I could see.

INTERVIEWER: All the houses?

ONOGI: Yes, well, I couldn’t see anyone around me but I heard somebody shouting “Help! Help!” from somewhere. The cries were actually from underground as I was walking on. Since no choose were available, I’d just dug out red soil and roof tiles by hand to help my family; my mother, my three sisters and a child of one of my sisters.

Then, I looked next door and I saw the father of neighboring family standing almost naked. His skin was peeling off all over his body and was hanging from finger tips. I talked to him but he was too exhausted to give me a reply. He was looking for his family desperately. The person in this picture was a neighbor of us. I think the family’s name was the Matsumotos.

This It How It Feels to Be Under a Nuclear AttackWhen we were escaping from the edge of the bridge, we found this small girl crying and she asked us to help her mother. Just beside the girl, her mother was trapped by a fallen beam on top of the lower half of her body. Together with neighbors, we tried hard to remove the beam, but it was impossible without any tools.

Finally a fire broke out endangering us. So we had no choice but to leave her. She was conscious and we deeply bowed to her with clasped hands to apologize to her and then we left. About one hour later, it started raining heavily. There were large drops of black rain. I was wearing a short sleeve shirt and shorts and it was freezing. Everybody was shivering. We warmed ourselves up around the burning fire in the middle of the summer.

INTERVIEWER: You mean the fire did not extinguish by the rain?

ONOGI: That’s right. The fire didn’t subside it at all. What impressed my very strongly was a 5 or 6 year-old-boy with his right leg cut at the thigh. He was hopping on his left foot to cross over the bridge. I can still record this scene very clearly. The water of the river we looking at now is very clean and clear, but on the day of bombing, all the houses along this river were blown by the blast with their pillars, beams and pieces of furniture blown into the river or hanging off the bridges.

The river was also filled with dead people blown by the blast and with survivors who came here to seek water. Anyway I could not see the surface of the water at all. Many injured people with peeled skin were crying out for help. Obviously they were looking at us and we could hardly turn our eyes toward the river.

This It How It Feels to Be Under a Nuclear AttackINTERVIEWER: Wasn’t it possible to help them?

ONOGI: No, there were too many people. We took care of the people around us by using the clothes of dead people as bandages, especially for those who were terribly wounded. By that time we somehow became insensible all those awful things. After a while, the fire reached the river bank and we decided to leave the river. We crossed over this railway bridge and escaped in the direction along the railway.

The houses on both sides of the railroad were burning and railway was the hollow in the fire. I thought I was going to die here. It was such an awful experience. You know for about 10 years after bombing I always felt paralyzed we never saw the sparks made by trains or lightning. Also even at home, I could not sit beside the windows because I had seen so many people badly wounded by pieces of glass. So I always sat with the wall behind me for about 10 years. It was some sort of instinct to self-preservation.

0.87 miles from hypocenter

Akihiro Takahashi.
Age at impact: 14 years old.

TAKAHASHI: We were about to fall in on the ground the Hiroshima Municipal Junior High School on this spot. The position of the school building was not so different from what it is today and the platform was not positioned, too. We were about to form lines facing the front, we saw a B-29 approaching and about fly over us. All of us were looking up the sky, pointing out the aircraft.

Then the teachers came out from the school building and the class leaders gave the command to fall in. Our faces were all shifted from the direction of the sky to that of the platform. That was the moment when the blast came. And then the tremendous noise came and we were left in the dark. I couldn’t see anything at the moment of explosion just like in this picture.

We had been blown by the blast. Of course, I couldn’t realize this until the darkness disappeared. I was actually blown about 10 m. My friends were all marked down on the ground by the blast just like this. Everything collapsed for as far as I could see. I felt the city of Hiroshima had disappeared all of a sudden. Then I looked at myself and found my clothes had turned into rags due to the heat. I was probably burned at the back of the head, on my back, on both arms and both legs.

My skin was peeling and hanging like this. Automatically I began to walk heading west because that was the direction of my home. After a while, I noticed somebody calling my name. I looked around and found a friend of mine who lived in my town and was studying at the same school. His name was Yamamoto. He was badly burnt just like myself.

2.3 miles from hypocenter

Isao Kita.
Age at impact: 33 years old

KITA: Well, at that time, I happened to be receiving the transmission over the wireless. I was in the receiving room and I was facing northward. I noticed the flashing light. It was not really a big flash. But still it drew my attention. In a few seconds, the heat wave arrived.

This It How It Feels to Be Under a Nuclear Attack

After I noticed the flash, white clouds spread over the blue sky. It was amazing. It was as if blue morning-glories had suddenly bloomed up in the sky. It was funny, I thought. Then came the heat wave. It was very very hot. Even though there was a window glass in front of me, I felt really hot. It was as if I was looking directly into a kitchen oven. I couldn’t bear the heat for a long time. Then I heard the cracking sound. I don’t know what made that sound, but probably it came from the air which suddenly expanded in the room.

By that time, I realized that the bomb had been dropped. As I had been instructed, I pushed aside the chair and lay with my face on the floor. Also as I had been instructed during the frequent emergency exercises, I covered my eyes and ears with hands like this.

And I started to count. You may feel that I was rather heartless just to start counting. But for us, who observed the weather, it is a duty to record the process of time, of various phenomena. So I started counting with the light flash. When I counted to 5 seconds, I heard the groaning sound. At the same time, the window glass was blown off and the building shook from the bomb blast. So the blast reached that place about 5 seconds after the explosion.

We later measured the distance between the hypocenter and our place. And with these two figures, we calculated that the speed of the blast was about 700 meters per second. The speed of sound is about 330 meters per second, which means that the speed of the blast was about twice as fast as the speed of sound. It didn’t move as fast as the speed of light but it moved quite rapidly.

2.54 miles from hypocenter

Hiroshi Sawachika.
Age at impact: 28 years old

SAWACHIKA: I was in my office. I had just entered the room and said “Good morning.” to colleagues and I was about to approach my desk when outside it suddenly turned bright red. I felt very hot on my cheeks. Being the chief of the room, I shouted to the young men and women in the room that they should evacuate. As soon as I cried, I felt weightless as if I were an astronaut.

This It How It Feels to Be Under a Nuclear AttackI was then unconscious for 20 or 30 seconds. When I came to, I realized that everybody including myself was lying at one side of the room. Nobody was standing. The desks and chairs had also blown off to one side. At the windows, there was no window glass and the window frames had been blown out as well. I went to the windows to find out where the bombing had taken place.

And I saw the mushroom cloud over the gas company.

The sound and shock somehow suggested that the bomb had been dropped right over the gas company. I still had no idea what had happened. And I kept looking towards the gas company. After a while, I realized that my white shirt was red all over. I thought it was funny because I was not injured at all. I looked around and then realized that the girl lying near by was heavily injured, with lots of broken glass stuck all over her body. Her blood had splashed and made stains on my shirt.

This It How It Feels to Be Under a Nuclear Attack

These testimonies are part of “Voice of Hibakusha”, from the Hiroshima Witness program, produced by the Hiroshima Peace Cultural Center and NHK. The transcripts were distributed on Usenet in 1990.

We take a look at the inner workings of a Virginia-class fast-attack nuclear submarine built in the US.

(Credit: Daniel Terdiman/CNET)

In 2007, at the Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding yard in Newport News, Virginia — where the first of the next-generation aircraft carrier class, the Gerald R. Ford, is currently under construction — the US Navy rolled out the North Carolina, the fourth of the Virginia-class fast-attack nuclear submarines.

Today, the North Carolina (SSN 777) is stationed at the New London Submarine Base (as seen in the image above), commanded by Wes Schlauder. The Virginia is the first class of submarines to have true 21st century on-board communications, including a fibre-optic intranet, a server room and large digital screens placed throughout the ship that show what is being viewed through the periscope.

(Credit: Daniel Terdiman/CNET)

This sign greets all who come aboard the North Carolina.

(Credit: Daniel Terdiman/CNET)

Most submarine movies have created the romantic image of the skipper in a darkened room, looking through two eye holes, at what can be seen with the periscope. But with the Virginia class, that classic image is no more. Now, the imagery coming from the periscope is translated on to large digital monitors that are spread throughout the North Carolina, including here, in the main control room, as well as in the commander’s personal quarters.

The photo above shows a zoomed in image of the classic submarine Nautilus, at the museum that is adjacent to the New London Submarine Base. The Nautilus is a full kilometre and a half away from the North Carolina, meaning that the image on this screen — which is very crisp — is extremely magnified.

In the lower right quadrant of the screen, the slim wedge represents how much of the 360-degree view from the North Carolina the periscope is looking at.

(Credit: Daniel Terdiman/CNET)

Here, we see a much wider angle view from the periscope, as designated by the wider wedge.

(Credit: Daniel Terdiman/CNET)

In this photo, Schlauder uses the joystick that controls the periscope’s direction and other criteria. With that joystick, anyone can rotate the periscope 360 degrees, tilt the view up or down, and zoom in so that details at a kilometre away are easily discernible.

(Credit: Daniel Terdiman/CNET)

In the past, submarines had one sonar room, where the commander could look out through the periscope and where the sonar work was done; and a second room for the drivers of the sub. Now, thanks to modern communications, navigation and driving systems, those separate rooms have been combined into one, modern nerve centre.

This is a view of the pilots’ station, with two seats and a full set of controls for the pilot and the co-pilot.

(Credit: Daniel Terdiman/CNET)

This screen showcases all the digital trim controls, those that are used to bring the submarine down or up in the water, based on how much air is in the ballast tank.

(Credit: Daniel Terdiman/CNET)

This screen has the digital controls for navigating the submarine.

(Credit: Daniel Terdiman/CNET)

A bank of servers in the North Carolina’s computer room. All the digital data on board the submarine flows through these servers.

(Credit: Daniel Terdiman/CNET)

In an emergency, the submarine can be forced to the surface in a hurry by pulling these levers, which are located just above the pilots’ electronic navigation station. By pulling these levers, all water is quickly expelled from the ballast systems, which would cause the sub to shoot up to the surface, and likely break through like a whale jumping out of the water.

(Credit: Daniel Terdiman/CNET)

This digital screen shows the North Carolina’s coordinates, or any other location, either by virtue of GPS when above water or if under water, by a sophisticated system of sensors that keep highly accurate track of the boat’s movement in three dimensions.

(Credit: Daniel Terdiman/CNET)

Commander Schlauder looks at two of the North Carolina’s weapons, a Mark 48 torpedo (left) and a Tomahawk missile (in the sheath on the right), which are being held in cradles. The submarine can carry as many as a dozen torpedoes at any time, but if necessary, the torpedo room can be largely cleared out — it is mostly modular — and a Special Forces crew of as many as 36 can be housed here.

(Credit: Daniel Terdiman/CNET)

Using the special cradle system, the torpedoes are moved into place and then are essentially shoved at high speed out of these tubes. It takes a highly efficient crew about 10 to 15 minutes to prepare and launch a torpedo, though a crew can be working on launching multiple torpedoes in succession.

(Credit: Daniel Terdiman/CNET)

There are four tubes in the torpedo room, with two stacks of two on opposite sides of the room.

(Credit: Daniel Terdiman/CNET)

Torpedoes are hoisted on to the submarine using cranes and are brought in at an angle through hatches above. The torpedoes are then brought down through the levels of the sub at an angle via this slide.

(Credit: Daniel Terdiman/CNET)

At the end of the Mark 48 torpedo, this extra device spools out up to 25,000 yards of fibre-thin cable. By staying connected to the submarine, the torpedo can keep constant communications with firing control, which can update the target profile in real time. If the fibre is broken, the torpedo still has enough information and autonomy to complete its last understanding of the target’s location and trajectory.

(Credit: Daniel Terdiman/CNET)

Commander Schlauder climbs down into the North Carolina.

(Credit: Daniel Terdiman/CNET)

This is the lock-out trunk, the compartment that is used when it is necessary to put people out into the water while the submarine is below the surface. Because the North Carolina could carry Special Forces, this is where those personnel might begin their mission, leaving the boat two at a time, using special suits to protect them from the conditions.

But regular submarine crew members are also trained in escape methods, and in the case of an emergency, the crew would also leave via this compartment.

(Credit: Daniel Terdiman/CNET)

This is Commander Schlauder’s personal quarters, which includes a fairly complete workstation and where he can even have the imagery from the periscope piped in if something needs to be seen and he’s not in the control room.

(Credit: Daniel Terdiman/CNET)

In the commanding officer’s quarters, the bed pulls down from the wall.

(Credit: Daniel Terdiman/CNET)

The commanding officer is the only one on board with a single bed. This is the executive officer’s quarters, and if there are any VIPs on board, or anyone else needing special treatment, they will be quartered with the executive officer.

(Credit: Daniel Terdiman/CNET)

Most of the crew stay in six bunk rooms, and up to eight crew members can share those rooms with at least two on watch at any given time). The North Carolina is big enough that most often it is not necessary for that form of “hot cotting”, which is what it is called when one crew member climbs into a bed recently vacated by another.

(Credit: Daniel Terdiman/CNET)

While the North Carolina is a nuclear-powered submarine and can power itself for as long as necessary when underwater — it can produce enough power for a small city — the reactor is deactivated when the boat is in port. Then, for power, the sub is literally plugged into the port’s power supply, as seen here at the North Carolina’s berth at the New London Submarine Base.

(Credit: Daniel Terdiman/CNET)

This is the North Carolina’s carbon monoxide burner.

(Credit: Daniel Terdiman/CNET)

After going through the carbon monoxide burner, the resulting carbon dioxide is removed by this scrubbing machine. There are two of these for redundancy’s sake.

(Credit: Daniel Terdiman/CNET)

It is said that submarine crews are some of the best fed in the military. First, that’s because there is not enough room, as there would be on a surface ship, to carry thousands of pre-prepared meals, meaning that the cooks must prepare meals from scratch. And second, that’s because the good food helps morale, something that’s important for a crew that can be underwater for 90 days or more.

(Credit: Daniel Terdiman/CNET)

The crew’s mess on the North Carolina. Each table in the mess is adorned with sports homages to one of the five major North Carolina universities.

(Credit: Daniel Terdiman/CNET)

This is the North Carolina’s diesel engine, which is an emergency generator of power if the nuclear reactor stops working and the battery banks aren’t producing enough power as backup.

(Credit: Daniel Terdiman/CNET)

The North Carolina is the US military’s fourth with that name. Previous iterations have included an early 19th century ship of the line, and the most recent predecessor was the Battleship North Carolina. This is the silver service from the second North Carolina, an armoured cruiser launched in 1908.


Lots of cool photos. Amazed at how far the technology has come and the use of the same old green and grey paint. I would love to go out to sea for a day on one of these Virginia Class Boats, that would be great!

America Before Pearl Harbor – Early Kodachrome Images

By johnnygunn

On Thu Dec 07, 2006 at 12:32:05 AM PDT

When we think of America during the Great Depression, we often picture it in shades of grey.  It was a grim era and nearly all of the photographs we see are in black and white.  

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This is one of Dorothea Lange’s most famous photographs – a destitute mother in a migrant farm worker camp in California.  Lange was one of the many talented WPA photographers who recorded the history and conditions of the Depression across the United States.  

Follow me below the fold as we look at America before Pearl Harbor.

Color presents an entirely different image.

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This is a photograph of Faro and Doris Caudill, farmers in Pietown, New Mexico.
They lived in a dugout and struggled to survive on Resettlement Administration land.

As the 1930s came to a close, Kodak came out with Kodachrome film – the first commercially viable color film available to the general public.  In 1937 and 1938, the colors were still not stable and accurate, but by 1939 Kodachrome was producing color images of remarkable precision.  

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Now, not just anybody could buy this film.  It cost $5 per roll and had to be sent back to Rochester, New York for development.  By comparison, in 1938 Congress established the first minimum wage at 25 cents per hour.  $5 represented half a week’s work.  But the Farm Security Administration sent out about a dozen photographers with this new film.  Commercial photographer, Samuel Gottscho, and well-to-do amateur, Charles Cushman,  embraced this new technology, as well.………

Urban America

New York City was the metropolis of America.

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Times Square was the happening place.  Big date.  Hop in a taxi.
And go see Night Train at the Globe Theater.

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Washington was a city of contrasts – the New Deal having extended its influence across the nation.

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But it was still very much a Southern city – especially if you were African American.

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Chicago was the transportation, food, and manufacturing center of the country.

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And the Southside was still an industrial neighborhood of steel mills and packing houses.

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New Orleans was the largest city in the South – not Atlanta.

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Jim Crow laws were a fact of life for residents of the Ninth Ward.

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San Francisco had been eclipsed by Los Angeles in size, but it remained the most important port and financial center of the West.

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And Charles Cushman had to take a photograph of his new coupe beside the recently-completed Golden Gate Bridge.

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Rural America

Nearly half of all Americans still lived on farms and in small towns.

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The Farmall Tractor had revolutionized farming, but mechanization remained limited.

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In rural Georgia, folks still went to town on Saturday by wagon.

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And kids still went barefoot in Indiana in the summertime.

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Mothers still made clothes for the kids – from flour and feed sacks – as with these girls at the Vermont State Fair.

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And grandmothers still made sure that their teenaged granddaughters didn’t hang out at the horse auctions with the menfolk in little towns in eastern Kentucky.

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This is my favorite.  
Look how mad grandma is and how her granddaughter is stomping away.

Saturdays were the day that everybody went to town in Cascade, Idaho.

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But rural life remained quite distinct from urban America – whether on the C-D Ranch in Montana –

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Or during the peach harvest in western Colorado.

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Despite the Depression, modernization proceeded rapidly in the 1930s.
People still traveled by train.  Railroads were one of the largest employers.

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But the emerging airlines were already flying four-engine Boeing Stratoliners out of Chicago Midway for those wealthy enough to fly.

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The country store was the furthest many rural Southerners ever got.

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Yet, Miami Beach was filled with northern vacationers.

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Hoover Dam began generating electricity for California in 1936 – promising to transform the West.

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The Roosevelt Administration’s TVA projects created jobs and electricity for one of the poorest regions of the South.   The divide between urban and rural America was beginning to close.

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Having Fun

By 1939, Americans wanted to imagine a new and better future after the Depression decade.
The futuristic New York World’s Fair ran for two seasons in 1939 and 1940.

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San Francisco’s Golden Gate International Exposition envisioned a Pacific future for America.

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Americans celebrated Joe DiMaggio’s hitting streak during the summer of 1941 and another Yankees’ World Series championship in the fall.

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Dances in Oklahoma were simple affairs – with perhaps a fiddler and guitarist.

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And on the cusp of modernity, Americans still clung nostalgically to rural myths –
Not the reality of the poverty that most rural Americans endured during the Depression.

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But they saw it in color – – for the very first time.

Those on the Edges

Although immigration had been curtailed in the 1920s, the Lower East Side remained vibrantly Jewish.

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African Americans faced brutal discrimination in jobs, housing, education, and public accommodations.  It’s no wonder that the women here and even the older girl are suspicious of the white photographer.

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Mining families in Pennsylvania still lived in decrepit company housing.

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The Roosevelt administration struggled to get Mexican American children out of the fields and into schools in Texas and other border states.

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Native Americans, who had only recently received citizenship in their own land, remained desperately poor.  This Tohono O’odham grandmother in Tucson shows the same distruct of the white photographer that the Africam American family in Maryland did.

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And little do these Japanese Americans suspect – as they celebrate their culture during the World’s Fair – that within two years, they will be deported to relocation camps by their own government.

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On December 6th, a very different America prevailed.
After December 7th, that America would be changed forever,


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NYC honor

Today the SIOA honor killing victims awareness and aid campaign rolled out in New York City.

Stop Islamization of America’s (SIOA) next campaign to reach and educate the American people has already hit the streets of Chicago, which was the first city in a nationwide campaign: taxitops! I thought it was a perfect medium to get our message to the people who are hungry, tired of the lies and starving for information that the media is too afraid to provide.

NEW YORK–If you want to know what the very latest tech toys are, don’t go to Best Buy or an Apple Store. Go to the lost-and-found department at Grand Central Terminal.

That’s because in a train terminal that services 700,000 people a day, and more than 2,000 lost items a month, those with the latest cell phones, laptops, or other tech gear are bound to lose them while at Grand Central. And there’s a really good chance those people will be reunited with their hot new items.

“We start seeing technology as soon as it hits the streets,” said Grand Central lost-and-found clerk Chris Stoll. “Yesterday, we had three iPhones [come in] and we’ve had iPads.”

Added Stoll, “I’ve joked with customers that I’m going to start making my investments based on what comes through [the lost-and-found] window.”

Click here for a full photo gallery on the hidden secrets of Grand Central Terminal.

As part of my Road Trip 2010 project, I got a chance last week to see some of Grand Central’s many hidden secrets, as well as to learn a lot about the storied terminal’s past. This is a building, first opened in 1913, and fully restored in 1998, that helped keep President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s polio hidden from the American people, that has $20 million worth of precious jewels in plain site, and that to this day provides top-secret assistance to any sitting American president who comes to New York.

But more on that later.

80 percent return rate
Since most people never have any reason to interact with the folks at lost-and-found, they probably don’t realize that Grand Central is home to what may be the world’s most efficient system for reuniting people with their lost items.

According to Daniel Brucker, a medial relations officer in the public affairs office of the Metro-North Railroad, which today operates Grand Central, representatives from lost-and-found departments the world over come to New York to study how the folks here do it. Most such departments claim a top return rate of about 30 percent, yet Brucker said that at Grand Central, fully 80 percent of items turned in eventually find their owners.

Walking around the lost and found, it’s a wonderland of cell phones, umbrellas, backpacks, laptop computers, and one inevitable item: toy train sets. Just about all these items are kept together with similar objects and are mainly stored in boxes marked, say “Cell Phones w/info June.”

Brucker explained that when any item is found or turned in, clerks in lost-and-found, or personnel in the terminal, or on trains know to quickly ask a series of questions about when it was found, on which train, the train car number, and even which seat it was found in, or whether it was in an overhead bin. They also want to know what brand it is, and, say, what kind of umbrella it is.

If found on a train or in the terminal, someone will first put the item in a lockbox, and then transfer it to a police evidence bag that is locked with a padlock, before bringing it to lost and found.

A mechanized coat rack that holds the dozens of jackets being stored in the Lost and Found department at Grand Central Terminal. Each month, more than 2,000 items come through the department, and fully 80 percent of them are returned to their owners.

(Credit: Daniel Terdiman/CNET)

The secret sauce of the department’s success rate, though, is the innovative cataloging system it uses and the doggedness with which the clerks try to track down items’ owners. Clerks will go through bags and purses, looking for identifying features. If there’s a credit card or a driver’s license in a bag, it’s easy, of course, but many don’t have such things. So, often, the clerks will resort to calling numbers on business cards left in jacket pockets to see if the contact knows the owner, or call the last-dialed numbers on a cell phone for the same reason.

And it’s not just cell phones, purses, and jackets that turn up here. There’s also artificial limbs, basset hounds, Ray Charles toys, and, of course, a great deal of technology. Indeed, Brucker said that 100 percent of laptop computers are successfully returned to their owners.

In fact, since staffers are entering great deals of salient details about found items into a computerized database, the public can now go online and enter details about items they’ve lost, and if there are matches, they are invited to come to lost and found and provide any final details–such as exactly what was inside that Fendi bag.

To Stoll, though, the most surprising find was probably a backpack containing 250 pairs of VIP tickets to a Dave Matthews Band concert. The bag turned out to belong to a local radio DJ who was supposed to mail the tickets to contest winners but had lost his bag. Stoll didn’t get any of the tickets as a tip.

And while nearly everyone must provide details proving an item is theirs, Brucker recalled one time when that wasn’t necessary. An elderly woman came in looking for her dentures, and when she saw them, she popped them in her mouth and said, “yeah, it fits.” Enough said.

Secret train station
When FDR was president in the 1930s, the White House put a simple demand on the owners of Grand Central: protect the secrecy of Roosevelt’s polio.

They weren’t being vague: They had a plan, and that involved the construction of a secret, fully functional train station deep below Grand Central. And so it was built. Brucker took me to see it–through doorways I’m not allowed to identify, for reasons that will soon become clear–and explained what went on, and still goes on, underneath the busiest train terminal in the U.S.

FDR was from New York state and often returned to New York City. Because his physical condition was not understood by a public that likely would have been unsympathetic to seeing the commander-in-chief in a wheelchair, the president would arrive in New York on a special private train.

But instead of pulling into a normal platform and having a normal train car, FDR arrived on a custom car that contained his 1932 armor-plated Pierce-Arrow limousine. By the time the train would get into the secret tunnels, the president would be inside the limo, and when it hit the platform, the car would be driven out through special, wide doors and then into a special wide elevator. He would then alight into the ballroom at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel above.

The secret train car was armor-clad, and had bullet-proof glass, which in those days meant little more than many, many layers of glass, Brucker said. In addition, a series of vents along the top of the train car were actually gun ports, and it featured unique wheel assemblies that allowed no lateral movement. That was because any such movement would have shaken FDR out of his wheelchair.

The vents on FDR’s secret train car were converted to gun ports.

(Credit: Daniel Terdiman/CNET)

Today, the train car is sitting on a track in the secret train station. The FDR Museum wants it back, but moving it from the tunnels below Grand Central would be an astronomically expensive task, given that it would likely need to be taken apart, piece by piece. So until the museum ponies up, it sits hidden away in New York City.

You might think that this history would mean that Grand Central allows the public to come down to see FDR’s train car, but that’s not the case because of a more contemporary presidential responsibility.

In fact, when any sitting president comes to New York City, a platform and a special train car are made ready in case the chief executive needs emergency egress, Brucker said. And that means that during any presidential visit, all possible entrances that lead to the platform are guarded by a series of federal and local police, and anyone unauthorized to visit the secret station who attempted to do so would likely be taken into custody until the president leaves town.

And that’s why, Brucker said, a few years ago, when the chairman of the Metro-North Railroad tried to go down to the secret station and was stopped by security, he said, sternly, “This is my railroad.” To which the equally stern response was, “Not today.”

Other secrets
Besides the secret train station and the wonders of the lost-and-found, Grand Central is a treasure trove of other little hidden gems.

One is actually a literal gem. When I got to the terminal, Brucker took me into the famous and iconic main concourse (see video below) and asked me if I could see the $20 million jewel that was in plain sight of everyone in the giant room. I couldn’t, and later, he explained that sitting atop the main information booth in the middle of the hall is a lovely, and in fact perfectly accurate clock that is synched to the atomic clock at the U.S. Naval Observatory. Otherwise, however, it appears unnoteworthy.

It turns out, however, that the clock’s four faces are made from incredibly valuable opal, and it was recently appraised at around $20 million.

Another little known fact involves a small hole high on the concourse ceiling. Unnoticed by most, it is actually the sole remaining artifact of a late-1950s NASA promotion in which the space agency brought a Redstone rocket into the terminal in a bid to garner public support at a time when the Russians were winning the space race.

Unfortunately, the rocket proved to be just a little bit too big for the hall, and a six-inch hole had to be made in the ceiling in order to accommodate the Redstone.

The wrong departure time
Perhaps the most clever secret of all is one that is rooted in humanity. Brucker explained that every single schedule on display in Grand Central Terminal, and indeed anywhere that lists trains leaving the terminal, are off by one minute. It’s not a mistake, either. Indeed, the schedules are amiss because it seemed like a good way to handle the chaos of people running to catch a just-departing train. Rather than have them trip and fall, or drop things, or run into people or pillars, the one-minute discrepancy gives the conductors the ability to say to the running people, calm down or slow down: You still have a minute to go.

And in the world of trains, a full minute is a lifetime.

For the next few weeks, Geek Gestalt will be on Road Trip 2010. After driving more than 18,000 miles in the Rocky Mountains, the Pacific Northwest, the Southwest and the Southeast over the last four years, I’ll be looking for the best in technology, science, military, nature, aviation and more throughout the American Northeast. If you have a suggestion for someplace to visit, drop me a line. In the meantime, you can follow my progress on Twitter @GreeterDan and @RoadTrip and find the project on Facebook. And you can also test your knowledge of the U.S. and try to win a prize in the Road Trip Picture of the Day challenge.