Prof's computer images shed light on battleship sunk at Pearl Harbor
Guelph - An American battleship bombed at Pearl Harbor 60 years ago, bringing the United States into the Second World War, can now be seen -- 40 feet below the surface -- more clearly than ever, thanks to techniques developed by a University of Guelph professor.
The June issue of National Geographic magazine includes images of the USS Arizona, which was sunk by the Japanese in a surprise attack on Dec. 7, 1941, carrying 1,000 sailors to their deaths.
Today, that ship still sits in muddy water off the coast of Oahu, Hawaii. It's still leaking oil and divers in the area have only about three metres of visibility.
But the images created by Guelph engineering professor Robert Dony show the entire front end of the ship in such detail that strands of cable, even a spring on a clothes-pin, can be clearly viewed.
Dony accomplished it by having divers take close-up digital video footage of the shipwreck, swimming back and forth until the entire vessel had been scanned.
Then "I effectively stitch it together in the computer," he said. "No one has ever before seen the Arizona this way."
STARTED LAST FALL
Dony, who specializes in computer imaging, especially medical and remote imaging, started the project last fall, years after he hooked up with an underwater archeologist. The archeologist, who has connections to National Geographic, called Dony "out of the blue" to ask for help with digital imaging techniques.
When he got to Pearl Harbor, Dony was struck by the sense of historical significance -- and also by the smell of oil as it continued to leak from the ship 60 years later. The oil slick is still visible.
Dony said the shipwreck goes deep into the American psyche. "It's very much treated as a sacred burial ground," he said.
There's a memorial, which people take tour boats to visit, where the names of the fallen are engraved. Almost half of the deaths at Pearl Harbor were men killed on the Arizona.
Japanese visitors to the memorial are emotional, as are Americans who are often in tears, Dony said.
"The first day we were going to the wreck and there, coming off the wreck, was a survivor of the attack," he said.
"To be able to speak with him and shake his hand, right there, that was very moving."
Uniform subject(s): History, archeology and genealogy (History); Terrorism and assassinations
Story type(s): News
Length: Medium, 319 words
© 2001 The Record - Kitchener-Waterloo. All rights reserved.
Doc. : news·20010518·KR·0054
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