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Grounded Russian Nuclear Sub Photographed With Sonar 143

Posted by kdawson
from the running-very-silent dept.
Lanxon sends in an intriguing piece from Wired: "This eerie wreck image is not computer-generated. It's the sonar image of Russian nuclear submarine B-159 (called K-159 before decommissioning), which has been lying 248m down in the Barents Sea, between Norway and Russia, since 2003. The Russian Federation hired Adus, a Scottish company that specializes in high-resolution sonar surveying, to evaluate if it would be possible to recover the wreck. 'The operation was complicated as the submarine was very deep, so we had to use the sonar equipment mounted on a remotely operated vehicle' [also pictured in the article], says Martin Dean, the managing director of Adus and a forensic-wreck archaeologist. 'We also had a problem with the surveying due to the density of North Atlantic cod attracted to the sound of the sonar and the light of the cameras.'"
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Grounded Russian Nuclear Sub Photographed With Sonar

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  • Looking at the image, it looks like your baby is a boy and you have quite the flat stomach...
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Cryacin (657549)
      Um, sir... I don't quite know how to explain this, but we just passed this Geiger counter over your baby, and well, it went nuts! Did your wife perchance eat weapons grade plutonium during her pregnancy?!?
    • by daem0n1x (748565)
      I didn't know the sea bottom was made of corduroy. And Russians found it a good idea to make subs out of it, too. Wouldn't steel be a better idea?
      • by gooman (709147)

        It kind of looks a little like Velcro, in which case they're never going to get that boat off the bottom.

  • by Spykk (823586) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @12:37AM (#31745068)

    This eerie wreck image is not computer generated.

    You don't have to use 3d studio max to generate an image with a computer. I would suggest that this image is in fact generated by a computer. It's just generated from sonar data instead of an artists interpretation.

    • by martas (1439879)
      what about a webcam photo? is that computer generated? or any image file you view on your monitor, for that matter?
      • by Droideka-TheGuy (1482159) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @12:41AM (#31745092)
        I'd say most webcam photos are generated from boredom actually. Or stupidity, if one looks too long on facebook.
      • by ceoyoyo (59147)

        Well, for a webcam photo the computer just throws the pixels on the screen. For a JPEG the process is a little more involved, but it's still image data and gets tossed onscreen.

        This sonar image started as a bunch of very complicated times. Yes, time. The time it takes a sound wave to travel to and return from the sub. Then the computer converts those times into distances. But you're not done - sonic imaging (either sonar or ultrasound) is somewhat complicated to reconstruct, so the computer has to do a

        • by martas (1439879)
          nope, i don't. in both cases you're mapping from complex [to varying degrees] digital data to a bunch of pixel values. conceptually, there is no difference. of course, you can draw an arbitrary line on some difficulty scale, and say that beyond that line every image is computer "generated", which is what happens often. to me, being computer generated means that the data from which the image was constructed was created by a human on a computer, e.g. using Maya or Photoshop.
          • by ceoyoyo (59147)

            It's not so much difficulty. With a camera you're reconstructing captured and stored visual information. You're storing a representation of photons then using a display device to recreate similar photons and send them on.

            With a sonar "image" you're converting non-visual information into a visual form. You're not representing photons with photons, you're representing something else with photons.

            Most people wouldn't have any difficulty saying that an image showing pressure variation in a wind tunnel was co

    • by SheeEttin (899897) <sheeettinNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @01:07AM (#31745212) Homepage
      That's your only problem? What about using the term "photograph" with sonar? Shouldn't it be a sonograph?
      (Also, the term "computer-generated" doesn't apply to the image itself, but the content. By your definition, even your digital camera takes computer-generated pictures. ;) )
    • by forkazoo (138186) <wrosecrans&gmail,com> on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @01:10AM (#31745226) Homepage

      You don't have to use 3d studio max to generate an image with a computer. I would suggest that this image is in fact generated by a computer. It's just generated from sonar data instead of an artists interpretation.

      Yeah, that's kind of a canonical example of a computer generated image. They had a bunch of sonar data which was put through an algorithm which resulted in a picture. People don't really seem to care what words mean anymore. It's a shame. Or, maybe it's a pancake. Doesn't make any difference to most people.

      • CG has been taken over by the artsy fartsies. We're left with scientific visualization.

      • by Jurily (900488) <jurily@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @04:17AM (#31745818)

        It's a shame. Or, maybe it's a pancake. Doesn't make any difference to most people.

        I'm very apancaked that Slashdot has editors who can't read.

      • Unfortunately there is no "anymore" there. People never cared much for using words exactly how their grandfather did. Otherwise you'd still be speaking like in Beowulf. What is nowadays the right way to read and write in modern English would have been the _awfully_ wrong way a mere couple of hundred years ago. (E.g., "knight" used to be read exactly like it's written, with a hard K, an I like in "dim", and the G and H actually pronounced. Look at the mangled way you're reading it nowadays. Tut tut.)

        Any mode

        • by bkr1_2k (237627)

          What is nowadays the right way to read and write in modern English would have been the _awfully_ wrong way a mere couple of hundred years ago. (E.g., "knight" used to be read exactly like it's written, with a hard K, an I like in "dim", and the G and H actually pronounced. Look at the mangled way you're reading it nowadays. Tut tut.)

          I'd like to know just how people come up with the assertion that the pronunciation of words (such as Knight) have drastically changed when there aren't recordings of such words

          • by CRCulver (715279)

            I'd like to know just how people come up with the assertion that the pronunciation of words (such as Knight) have drastically changed when there aren't recordings of such words to be heard.

            The K continues to be pronounced in other Germanic languages. Compare German Knabe to English knave. The logical conclusion is that English innovated in pronunciation (and stagnated in spelling) while other languages in this instance retained older features.

            The reconstruction of older stages of a language is not perfect

          • The rules for pronunciation can be documented. Also, considering modern German isn't too far off from old and middle English, you don't have to look too far. People don't throw in silent letters for the fun of it, they used to be pronounced.

            I'm curious about the future pronunciation of the word "ask." Futurama jokingly pronounces it as "ax," as an homage to certain urban uses today. Before you get all tussled up about it, consider how modern speakers today pronounce the word "only."

          • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            I present as reference "Monty Python's Quest for the Holy Grail". Just listen to how the French soldier pronounces it.

        • by BranMan (29917)

          (E.g., "knight" used to be read exactly like it's written, with a hard K, an I like in "dim", and the G and H actually pronounced. Look at the mangled way you're reading it nowadays. Tut tut.)

          So, what you are saying is that the French soldiers in Monty Python's The Holy Grail were ..... pronouncing it correctly? That's not funny at all anymore! Thanks for ruining my enjoyment of a timeless classic for all time. I hope you're happy!

        • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @11:38AM (#31749770)

          There's a difference between making up new words and pronouncing old ones in a different way, and making up new words because your vocabulary sucks (anybody who says "defensed", I'm looking at you). One is evolution, the other is ignorance. Yes, both will always occur, but that doesn't mean we have to embrace both.

          There's value in having a consistent way of referring to things: people will actually be able to understand each other. This discussion is a nice example of how diverging meanings can hurt understanding.

          As for your example of the proper pronunciation of knight, do you mean to imply that we all should speak German? ;)

          • by Moraelin (679338)

            What I'm saying is more that a lot of that evolution happened because of ignorance. Certainly using the word for "legislative assembly in session" to mean an "object" wasn't the proper use of the word, and using the word for "blessed" to mean "silly" even less so.

            And if you look at the evolution of languages, at least for English, French _and_ German, we have:

            - wrong use of declension and conjugation (at least for those that evolved from Latin, the successive distortions in that aspect would give a Cicero o

      • by roman_mir (125474)

        Alas the product wave summarized the continuity of the repercussion and thus systematically diffused the colloquialism.

        The girth of the azimuth has perpetuated limitless capacity to burden the overcoming. Ceramic boulder caved into the singularity, which in itself lambasted in lie of the experimental sentiment profusely.

        Capricorn?

    • > It's just generated from sonar data instead of an artists interpretation.

      I'm guessing an artist was involved.

      Why is there no noise? How would the software know what parts should be yellow, and what parts should be black?

      I guess it's too much to ask of a mainstream magazine to just give us the image, without tweaking it by hand to make it all purty.

      • by ultranova (717540) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @07:23AM (#31746598)

        Why is there no noise?

        Noise changes from moment to moment, so take several images and average them (or simply remove outliers).

        How would the software know what parts should be yellow, and what parts should be black?

        Iron is hard, while the mud at the ocean floor is soft. It produces a different kind of echo, which can be visualized by colorization.

        This is all guesswork, but that's what I'd do if I had to do a project like this.

        I guess it's too much to ask of a mainstream magazine to just give us the image, without tweaking it by hand to make it all purty.

        What image? Sonar doesn't produce an image, it produces round-trip timing and waveform shift data. That data can be turned into an image by processing with a computer or by hand, however since this image is entirely artificial to begin with it's quite arbitrary to say "process this much and no more".

        So no, they can't give you the original image, because it doesn't exist and never has. I suppose they could give you the raw sonar data, but what would you do with it, apart from turning it into an image every bit as artificial as the one in the article?

    • To add to your pedanticism, it's also not a photograph, as sonar involves sound, not photons.
    • by Rogerborg (306625)

      To be fair, the error is in the original article, which the submitter just ripped off verbatim, and kdawson posted without even cursory checking (apologies for the obviousness of that).

    • by mforbes (575538) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @05:27AM (#31746080)
      I disagree. The image is computer interpreted. To imply that it's computer generated is to imply that there is no physical analog of the object the image represents.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Scrameustache (459504)

        I disagree. The image is computer interpreted. To imply that it's computer generated is to imply that there is no physical analog of the object the image represents.

        If you look at a CG Artist's portfolio you'll see computer generated images of stuff he had on his desk (cell phones, etc). In fact, the best looking CG uses photographs of the object and it's environment for realistic textures and lighting.

        Careful about "imply". "Imply" will lead you astray.

      • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @08:28AM (#31747198) Homepage Journal

        I disagree. The image is computer interpreted. To imply that it's computer generated is to imply that there is no physical analog of the object the image represents.

        I disagree some more. I would argue that a computer generated image is one made by a computer from non-visual data. This fits that description perfectly. CG involves images invented from geometry and textures. Sonar images obviously processed by computer, as these are, are generated from sonar data. Either way there's no image that the image is based upon.

      • by argent (18001)

        You (and the article author) are using a definition of "computer generated" that is startling in its obtuseness.

        The image is computer generated. Just like those nifty maps of the ocean bottoms that every world map made in the past quarter century seems to have used.

    • by bugnuts (94678)

      Yes, that is completely different than me using my Canon camera with dual Digic 4 processors and CMOS sensor. The last Non-computer generated image I made was of my dog, which bore a tremendous likeness, generated from the CMOS imager and fed through a series of algorithms, compressed, and stored on a solid state device, but because it looked like a dog it couldn't be a computer generated image.

      But because mine was shot on something that resembles a camera that measures light hitting a sensor instead of so

    • by Deadplant (212273)

      While we're on pedantry... 'photograhed using sonar' is nonsensical. Photographs use photons, sonograms use sonar.

      The submarine was imaged using sonar.

  • Looks like they could just patch a few holes and pump air in to refloat it.

    (and yeah that might just be how it looks).

    • Or they could just call the Mythbusters and get their ping pong ball collection.
      • Yeah also I thought about using little ROVs to pull airbags into the interior, then inflating them once secured.

    • by Mitchell314 (1576581) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @01:20AM (#31745280)
      Are you crazy? That sub is nothing more than a bunch of lines now.
      • Are you crazy? That sub is nothing more than a bunch of lines now.

        Squiggly ones at that.

        • by kiehlster (844523)
          Thus further confirming that string theory is true. Who would have thought that high pressure environments would turn things back into their basic elements.
    • by Plazmid (1132467) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @01:27AM (#31745300)
      I don't think so, looks like there's a large gash in the ballast tanks. Besides it'd make more sense to fill it with gasoline(or attach large bags of it as is done in salvage operations), which is incompressible and doesn't expand like air as your Russian submarine, soon to be converted into floating nuclear powered datacenter, gets closer to the surface. Though, this submarine wasn't really in prime condition before it sunk(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_submarine_K-159)....
      • by ultranova (717540)

        Or just lift it with winches attached to a sufficiently large ship. According to Wikipedia, it weights less than 5,000 tons, and is less than 250m below the surface. Given that a large cargo ship can easily displace 100,000+ tons, I'd say they're more than up to the task.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Probably the pressure hull kept everything ok, but according to the story, the sub went down stern first, implanted itself 8m (about 24 feet) into the seabed, then broke at the seabed, and the rest came crashing down (as you see it). You can try to pull up the part thats up (248m of water is only about 806 feet). 3 250 ton cranes could slowly winch it up (provided none of the stuff stuck in the seabed is still attached). Lifting balloons could also be attached. And while you are at it, the Kirsk is with

      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        but its that pesky nuclear poison that will slowly kill everything within 1000 km that causes problems.

        Hardly. Neutrons don't travel very far through water.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Vectormatic (1759674)

        wow, didnt know about s80, thanks for the pointer

        i dont really see a reason for lifting the s80 though, it might have caried two nuclear warheards (it was able to cary two ssn-3 cruise missiles, some variants of which had a nuclear tip), but since s80 already has been raised once (for the investigation of the sinking), i would think the soviets would have removed the missiles at that time. So nothing really dangerous (perhaps a few tonnes of diesel fuel) remains in the s80, best let it be.

        K-159 is a differe

      • by Plunky (929104)

        but its that pesky nuclear poison that will slowly kill everything within 1000 km that causes problems.

        Normally, I'd agree with you - but even TFS mentioned the cod that was so numerous it caused problems obtaining the readings.. in fact, if we just treated the site like a poisonous area like around Chernobyl, it might be a useful fisheries buffer zone..

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      The Wikipedia page for the K-159 submarine [wikipedia.org] includes a picture of how it looked right before its sinking. (The sub in the picture faces the opposite direction as on the sonar image, so it is difficult to get an idea of the damage sustained in the sinking.) While on its final voyage, it was kept afloat with pontoons, which evidently are no longer with the sub. According to this article [timesonline.co.uk] from 2007, one of the sources for the wiki article, the sub was crumbling at the end of its operational lifetime, and it ma
      • by mobby_6kl (668092)

        Although I'm pretty far from the Navy or marine technology in general, I find this topic quite fascinating. If you're interest in how such salvage operations are approached, I highly recommend reading this Wired article from last year, called Cowboys of the deep [wired.co.uk], which details the operations of Titan Salvage, as they recover a cargo ship full of new Mazdas. It's much more detailed than any news article, and generally an excellent read.

      • From the wiki article you provided the link to, this was the 13'th sub out of 16 that was being towed for decommission.

        Lucky 13.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      >and yeah that might just be how it looks

      Correct. Try R'ing T one-page FA. The back 8m is snapped off. That's the part they didn't show.

    • by iamhassi (659463)
      Ping pong balls
  • Fishies! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JesterJosh (1615053) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @01:07AM (#31745218)
    "We also had a problem with the surveying due to the density of north Atlantic cod attracted to the sound of the sonar and the light of the cameras. So at the beginning we had to turn off the equipment for 40 minutes and wait for the fish to go."

    Thought the sonar wasn't good for the marine life in that they would avoid it. Is this a peculiarity of cod?
    • Re:Fishies! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by lazy_playboy (236084) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @01:45AM (#31745340)

      I don't understand your logic. Hot lightbulbs are bad for moths but they're still attracted to them.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by mjwx (966435)

      Thought the sonar wasn't good for the marine life in that they would avoid it. Is this a peculiarity of cod?

      Not really, the lazy sods are just using this as the excuse for getting the lines out and drinking for an hour on Russian government money.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by tokul (682258)

      Thought the sonar wasn't good for the marine life in that they would avoid it. Is this a peculiarity of cod?

      Cod are not mammals. They are stupid, don't care about sound (no echolocation gift from mother nature) and are attracted to light and disturbed ocean floor.

    • they talk out of their asses. literally

      here is a .wav of a herring fart talking, and a story about it:

      http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn4343-fish-farting-may-not-just-be-hot-air.html [newscientist.com]

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The good news of the TFS is that the North Atlantic cod may be coming back!

      • by treeves (963993)
        The bad news is, after spending time near this sub, they'll be coming back with two tails and three eyes.
    • http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn4343-fish-farting-may-not-just-be-hot-air.html [newscientist.com]

      this link perhaps explains the cod's behavior: herring use sound (farting) to "talk" to each other (coordinate schooling after dark). so that would perhaps explain the attraction to the sonar. i don't know how related cod are to herring, but even if not related, there is perhaps convergent evolution going on here (schooling fish in the north atlantic coordinating with sound)

      apparently some fish literally talk out of their as

    • by Sir_Lewk (967686)

      Sonar isn't bad for anything, numerous types of sea life actually use it themselves.

      Sonar at sufficiently high power levels is supposed to be bad for marine life (in particular, I think it is generally stated that it is bad for mammals). If the cod were attracted to the sonar, I think it would indicate that the sonar was not powerful enough to actually cause damage to the cod (if in fact cod can be damaged by sonar).

      • Sonar at sufficiently high power levels is supposed to be bad for marine life (in particular, I think it is generally stated that it is bad for mammals). If the cod were attracted to the sonar, I think it would indicate that the sonar was not powerful enough to actually cause damage to the cod (if in fact cod can be damaged by sonar).

        I think the cod would be fine unless they're very close to a powerful long-range sonar. I was a sonar operator on a frigate in the navy. When we went active the sonar would tra

  • by ildon (413912) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @01:08AM (#31745222)

    April first is a really unfortunate date to publish any article on the internet that isn't a joke. The whole day has basically been ruined by people taking April Fools too far.

    • by Sulphur (1548251)

      Next year, no April first.

      --

      Was Edward the Black Prince the result of drunken tattoos.

  • by EnglishTim (9662) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @01:17AM (#31745264)

    The image is obviously computer generated; it's just computer generated from a real dataset. (Although the dataset has been coloured to separate the sub from the sea floor and a model of the sub fitted to the data so that when rendered the sub will obscure the sea floor behind the sub)

  • Glomar Explorer (Score:5, Informative)

    by theycallmeB (606963) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @01:45AM (#31745342)
    Too bad the Glomar Explorer [wikipedia.org] has been refitted for deep sea oil drilling. The biggest problem she would have had with a wreck 248 meters down is that it might be too shallow, as the wreck Glomar Explorer was designed to go after was 4.9km down. The Russians would probably object to its use, though, given the ship's history.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The Russians would probably object to its use, though, given the ship's history.

      The political baggage of it's history would be the least of my worries, its the K-129 breaking in half during salvage and two nuclear tipped missiles sliding out of their silos and falling 2000m+ to the ocean floor that would worry me more if somebody decided to use the Glomar Explorer for another nuclear salvage job. The Glomar Explorer's record on it's single (barely) successful salvage isn't exactly confidence inspiring.

      • by BCW2 (168187)
        Actually it would work well for this if the operators don't jam the claw into the sea bottom and break it again.
    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      True what bothers me is that they are lieing and saying that 248 meters is deep.
      For a scuba diver yes but is less than the test death of most nuclear attack subs and a lot shallower than most what most ROVs and research subs can reach.
      It really is in pretty shallow water which scares me.

  • by Ihlosi (895663) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @01:45AM (#31745344)
    How do you do that? Snap a picture of what your sonar screen is showing?

    If you create an image of something using sound waves, the correct term would be "sonographed". "Photographed" implies that you used light to create the image.

  • deep ? (Score:5, Informative)

    by giampy (592646) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @01:49AM (#31745358) Homepage

    I really don't get how 248 m is considered "very deep". For a reference the Titanic lies at 4000m depth, and there are points in the pacific ocean where the depth is around 13000 m ...

    Maybe there is a reason why it says so, i just don't see it ...

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mjwx (966435)

      I really don't get how 248 m is considered "very deep". For a reference the Titanic lies at 4000m depth, and there are points in the pacific ocean where the depth is around 13000 m ...

      That's what I though, WWII German submarines could go to 250 metres. I'm certain that commercially available submarines could easily reach that depth. I think the problem is not depth but area. Scanning the sea floor for anomalies at 250 M for 50 sq KM would be time consuming under ideal conditions.

      • by cdrudge (68377)

        Is 50 sq km a larger area at 250m then it is at say 50-100m?

        • by mjwx (966435)

          Is 50 sq km a larger area at 250m then it is at say 50-100m?

          I do not get the point of this question. The problem comes in the time it takes a sonar signal to reach the bottom of the ocean, so you have some serious lag or end up using special apparatus like this team did. This causes the work to proceed more slowly (not to mention create more of it to do in the first place). When taking sonar images of the sea floor you can only go so fast, when dragging a submersible drone to do the same thing you normall

    • Re:deep ? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Mindcontrolled (1388007) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @03:23AM (#31745602)
      It's very deep in terms of sonar technology, I guess. The article talks about having to use ROV-mounted sonar equipment, so they apparently could not get good resolution reflections with a towed sonar from the ship. I suppose the thermal or haline layering of seawater creates too much diffraction at this depth to get a high-resolution sonograph from the surface.
    • by iamhassi (659463)
      Maybe soviets have a different definition of "deep"? "ah, I cant touch it with my toes, it's down there DEEP!"
      • by sznupi (719324)

        Unlikelly, considering their subs typically can dive considerably deeper than those from rest of the bunch.

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      In general the higher the desired resolution of a sonar image the closer you need to get to the target. Think of trying to take a photo of something in a smoke filled room - if you want a nice clear picture you need to get close.

      And as sonar images go that one is stunningly high resolution.

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      It's pretty deep if you want to make a high res sonar image of it from the surface.

      This company is probably more used to doing high res sonar images of harbours and cable landing areas.

  • and use it to boil the water out of the sub - hey presto it raises itself to the surface. Those sub reators are uber-reliable it probably still works.
  • In Soviet Russia, sub finds you!

    (Haven't read the article or the summary, so only the mods will tell if the oblig. joke is relevant.)

  • I'm unsure exactly what's newsworthy here. The Russians have known where the wreck lies since the day it was lost. Computer generated imagery from high resolution sonar has been around for over a decade, as have ROV's carrying said high resolution sonars, as well as the sonars themselves.
     
    Or, IOW, move along - nothing to see here but a 'news' story based on a self serving puff piece press release.

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      There's a pretty picture.

      It's not particularly news worthy, in a general sense, but it's a lot more "news for nerds" than a lot of stories.

  • It did not run aground on a shoal or beach. It sank.

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