Titanic tourist sub goes missing in Atlantic Ocean, June 2023 #4

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Feynman may have had an extremely high opinion of himself, but as you note it was deserved and based on his long, long list of achievements. Not because his ancestors came over on the Mayflower and he inherited a lot of money.

And Feynman would have never confused facts with what he wanted to be true. As a practicing scientist, Feynman understood the difference between theorizing something and running experiments and tests to actually prove the theory correct. Rush just assumed if he thought something was true ("carbon fiber would make a good pressure hull"), then reality would bend to his will.

This reminds me of the clip from a young Feynman's physics lecture at Cornell: "It doesn't make a difference how beautiful your guess is. It doesn't make a difference how smart you are; who made the guess, or what his name is. If it disagrees with experiment, it's wrong."


The most humane, the sincerest and the saddest part of Feynman’s life was his relationship with his first wife, Arline, who died young. His achieved the most after her death, but I wonder if a part of him died with Arline. IMHO, after that, he must have taken the personal losses of the astronauts’ families close to heart. In his dissenting opinion, Feynman describes the toxic connection: first, NASA management drastically underestimates the risks of catastrophic failure, then sells their unrealistic opinion of flights safety to laymen, of which one, Christa McAuliffe, falls the victim. If Feynman was so harsh on rocket scientists (who, btw, were far from inadequate), just imagine him commenting on Stockton Rush’s arrogance, cavalier attitude to his escapades and safety-blindness. (Unafraid to argue with Niels Bohr, Feynman couldn’t care less about the Mayflower, he’d just leave Rush in the dust).

But Feynman had no filter in other areas, that’s why he’d periodically get in trouble. This is where I see some parallels with Rush.
 
Thank you very much for linking this movie. It is interesting to compare all three situations from the leadership angle. 1. The Challenger. At that time, the critical decision was left with the wrong team (the managers). However, NASA is still a team structure. A spacecraft consists of many parts; at any point, things can go wrong. When the spaceship disintegrated, it wasn’t “oh, darn, these O-rings”. It took Rogers commission over 5 months to arrive at their conclusion. Given how many times the launch had been postponed, I suspect that post-accident, different scenarios were entertained. Ultimately, Lawrence Mulloy, a manager, took the most flak. His attitude was, “we have been postponing it for too long, and we don’t have any data about O-rings performance at low temperatures. They have held so far. So let us make the decision to go ahead, and if we are wrong, it will be my head on the table.” A wrong decision, sadly, but in Mulloy’s stance, I can still see that old generation of leaders who are unafraid of responsibility. On the screen, he is humanely grieving. Also, you can see how everyone still feels about the Challenger and the crew. No engineer says, “me, me, me was right”. Everyone blames himself for not having done more. The only problem with that old leadership is perhaps excessive response to pressure from above in the context of financial constraints, but it is not the worst thing that can happen.

2. The Columbia leadership is a huge step down. Communication is bureaucratized, rigid and fractioned. Everything is politics (“improper lines of communication”), but the chief enforcer is a poor politician. I don’t know by what parameters Linda Ham was chosen to lead, but is a mismatch for the role. Being blunt and unapproachable, Linda, sadly, serves to dehumanize the outcome. Did she personally contribute to the disaster? I don’t think so. Perhaps the astronauts were doomed either way. But at least the management ought to have publicly acknowledged the risk and considered trying to save the crew instead of denialism. Why didn’t Linda participate in this movie? I think being interviewed about the disaster is hard for a person who feels the empathy but can’t project it onscreen. Another explanation - a new generation of leaders shies away from responsibility.

3. In comparison to NASA, the Titan is a tiny one-man show with a glitzy, conceited leader. Instead of teams, Rush leads students from a local community college, the only person with experience being fired and sued. The whole story revolts around Stockton Rush’s own inflated, vindictive ego. Responsibility? Nada, zero - the submersion “is safer than crossing a street”, he says. A private grandiose entrepreneur, Rush feels absolutely no empathy for the passengers because he’d die too.

I would describe the Challenger and the Columbia catastrophes as “we don’t know, but we haven’t had a problem with it before, so let us take the risk,” situations. With Rush, it was “I absolutely do know” one.

Interestingly, i can see some superficial parallels between Rush and Richard Feynman, both being extremely self-conceited, but first, Feynman was a Nobel prize winner, and second, he accused NASA of showmanship in bringing Christa McAuliffe to that flight.
The main point I thought was not really to compare NASA to Oceangate as they are two different operations. Oceangate is a private company.

The point was to show that many times it helps to understand how decisions are made and why. Like the author of the Challenger book in the Retro clip said, many people did not understand the position of Larry Malloy or Linda Hamm.

Yes, Stockton Rush seemed to be someone who did not care about safety. But I think that he really thought nothing would go wrong. Oceangate had postponed numerous dives before due to safety concerns. But I do agree that unlike NASA, Rush was warned for years about the design of his submersible and seemed to deny those safety concerns. Maybe he really was crazy like submersible operator Karl Stanley thought, or maybe he was so naive that he believed nothing could go wrong because he knew more than everyone else. I do not think it helped that the Titan submersible had successfully dived to the Titanic before.

It is probably best to wait until the investigation is complete and the accident board can figure out what actually caused the implosion(if they can figure it out).
 
The main point I thought was not really to compare NASA to Oceangate as they are two different operations. Oceangate is a private company.

The point was to show that many times it helps to understand how decisions are made and why. Like the author of the Challenger book in the Retro clip said, many people did not understand the position of Larry Malloy or Linda Hamm.

Yes, Stockton Rush seemed to be someone who did not care about safety. But I think that he really thought nothing would go wrong. Oceangate had postponed numerous dives before due to safety concerns. But I do agree that unlike NASA, Rush was warned for years about the design of his submersible and seemed to deny those safety concerns. Maybe he really was crazy like submersible operator Karl Stanley thought, or maybe he was so naive that he believed nothing could go wrong because he knew more than everyone else. I do not think it helped that the Titan submersible had successfully dived to the Titanic before.

It is probably best to wait until the investigation is complete and the accident board can figure out what actually caused the implosion(if they can figure it out).

I see Stockton Rush as a combination of a tunnel vision, obsessiveness, obstinacy and grandiosity. Perhaps coming from "Stockton" and "Rush" gave him insecurity. MOO - I don't think he flaunted the family names to sell the product. I think that the names set the bar too high for him. Sadly, it doesn't appear that Stockton Rush was too successful in his prior endeavors. I also have questions about his basic knowledge of physics, but i am not a physicist myself, it is just mere logic that makes me wonder. Perhaps the submersible was Stockton's last chance to prove to himself, his friends and family, that he was worthy of the legacy. I think he hoped, beyond all reality, that the sub would work, but it was also his ultima Thule and his last stand. If he abandoned the project, he'd walk straight into infamy, and perhaps debt-laden infamy, too, and this he could not accept.

ETA: the shuttles are not a one-man idea, enterprise or decision. Lots of technology, engineering and craftmanship goes into shuttles. I still have hard time blaming anyone for either the Challenger or the Columbia, because it is rocket science and the astronauts are aware of the risks. From the managerial standpoint, any flight is "a pyramid of signatures." (Remember Douglas refusing to sign and Kilminster, his boss, doing it?)

In Titan, one person is the physicist, the engineer, the owner and the signature. Could he manage? Yes, if he had Henry Ford's brain. But Stockton had the brain to make a cart, and thought he made an automobile. Technically, no one but him and his company are at fault, either. The industry seems to have ostracized him.
 
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An article in the Wall Street Journal about the personal sub industry in the wake of OceanGate.

It's behind a paywall, so I won't quote from it. Suffice to say that the industry has stalled since the Titan disaster. U-Boat Worx, one of the two primary companies that build these craft, has had to lay off half of its employees.

Apparently the well-heeled yacht owner used to consider a personal sub to be a de rigueur accessory. Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen owned a $50 million one. However, following the incident a lot of these rich folks had second thoughts, even though the sub builders tried explaining that their "classed" subs were safe and in a whole different category than the OceanGate vessel.
 
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Who is Larry Connor?​

Real estate and technology entrepreneur Larry Connor successfully completed three dives in just five days to the deepest ocean depths in the Mariana Trench this month.


Larry Connor is an entrepreneur and founder of The Connor Group, a luxury real estate company based in Dayton, Ohio. His net worth is $2 billion, according to Forbes, while Connor Group’s real estate portfolio is worth $5 billion.

Connor is a known explorer, having previously voyaged to the Mariana Trench and International Space Station, told news outlets he wants to prove that a deep-sea submersible can be made safely and such a trip can be done "without disaster."

“I want to show people worldwide that while the ocean is extremely powerful, it can be wonderful and enjoyable and really kind of life-changing if you go about it the right way,” Connor told The Wall Street Journal.

The date of the intended dive has not yet been announced.


If interested, full article at link...

 

Who is Larry Connor?​

Real estate and technology entrepreneur Larry Connor successfully completed three dives in just five days to the deepest ocean depths in the Mariana Trench this month.


Larry Connor is an entrepreneur and founder of The Connor Group, a luxury real estate company based in Dayton, Ohio. His net worth is $2 billion, according to Forbes, while Connor Group’s real estate portfolio is worth $5 billion.

Connor is a known explorer, having previously voyaged to the Mariana Trench and International Space Station, told news outlets he wants to prove that a deep-sea submersible can be made safely and such a trip can be done "without disaster."

“I want to show people worldwide that while the ocean is extremely powerful, it can be wonderful and enjoyable and really kind of life-changing if you go about it the right way,” Connor told The Wall Street Journal.

The date of the intended dive has not yet been announced.


If interested, full article at link...


What could possibly go wrong?
 
Connor is a known explorer, having previously voyaged to the Mariana Trench and International Space Station, told news outlets he wants to prove that a deep-sea submersible can be made safely and such a trip can be done "without disaster."
Good for him, I guess.

However, people have been taking submersibles down to the Titanic for 40 years. I don't know that I would call it "safe" exactly, but a mission to the Titanic in a properly designed and built sub has an excellent chance for success. I don't know what exactly this new vessel is supposed to prove. Or is just some self-aggrandizing, thrill-seeking behavior from a billionaire?
 
According to the article, he isn't even going to Titanic in a new submersible of his own design. He's using a pre-existing design by one of the most highly-regarded submersible builders in the world. He's not building anything. He's not designing anything. He's just taking a sightseeing trip in one of these:


He's basically just using the Titan tragedy to say, "Look at me! Look at me!" Fine, whatever. Going down to Titanic has never been a particularly big deal when done correctly.
 
I'm intrigued and sending well wishes once the dive takes place.
Follow your dreams -- they know the way




“I want to show people worldwide that while the ocean is extremely powerful, it can be wonderful and enjoyable and really kind of life-changing if you go about it the right way,” Connor told The Wall Street Journal.

Connor plans to venture to the ocean depths with Triton Submarines co-founder Patrick Lahey. The duo will plunge into the ocean in a Triton 4000/2 Abyssal Explorer — a two-person submersible.

According to Triton Submarines’ website, the vessel is the “world’s deepest diving acrylic sub.” The “4000” represents the number of meters it can dive. The Titanic sits at about 3,800 meters.

“Patrick has been thinking about and designing this for over a decade. But we didn’t have the materials and technology,” Connor said. “You couldn’t have built this sub five years ago.”




 
 
Well, that's a relief. That log was heartbreaking and devastating. I remember transcribing it at the time for others.

I mean, it's upsetting someone would fake it, but I'd rather that than the crew to have suffered.
 
New story from Wired
The Ocean Sciences Building at the University of Washington in Seattle is a brightly modern, four-story structure, with large glass windows reflecting the bay across the street.

On the afternoon of July 7, 2016, it was being slowly locked down.

[...]

In the building’s high-pressure testing facility, a black, pill-shaped capsule hung from a hoist on the ceiling. About 3 feet long, it was a scale model of a submersible called Cyclops 2, developed by a local startup called OceanGate. The company’s CEO, Stockton Rush, had cofounded the company in 2009 as a sort of submarine charter service, anticipating a growing need for commercial and research trips to the ocean floor. At first, Rush acquired older, steel-hulled subs for expeditions, but in 2013 OceanGate had begun designing what the company called “a revolutionary new manned submersible.” Among the sub’s innovations were its lightweight hull, which was built from carbon fiber and could accommodate more passengers than the spherical cabins traditionally used in deep-sea diving. By 2016, Rush’s dream was to take paying customers down to the most famous shipwreck of them all: the Titanic, 3,800 meters below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean.

Engineers carefully lowered the Cyclops 2 model into the testing tank nose-first, like a bomb being loaded into a silo, and then screwed on the tank’s 3,600-pound lid. Then they began pumping in water, increasing the pressure to mimic a submersible’s dive. If you’re hanging out at sea level, the weight of the atmosphere above you exerts 14.7 pounds per square inch (psi). The deeper you go, the stronger that pressure; at the Titanic’s depth, the pressure is about 6,500 psi. Soon, the pressure gauge on UW’s test tank read 1,000 psi, and it kept ticking up—2,000 psi, 5,000 psi. At about the 73-minute mark, as the pressure in the tank reached 6,500 psi, there was a sudden roar and the tank shuddered violently.
 
Spherical shapes are supposed to be better at withstanding water pressure because it's evenly distributed as I understand...

I'm not sure I'd ever fully trust acrylic at that kind of depth, but you're absolutely correct about the physics of using a sphere. This is only a very simple sketch, but it shows how the pressure is evenly spread over a spherical surface--and also how dangerous pressure points form on the flat surfaces of a tube:

titan.jpg
 

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