Wreckage of lost World War II bomber discovered in the North Sea

Engineers working on a sub-sea power link have found what is believed to be the wreckage of a World War II Royal Air Force bomber off the coast of Norway.

The engineers were conducting surveys of the seabed as part of the North Sea Link project to build a power cable between the U.K. and Norway when they found the plane wreckage. The discovery off the Norwegian city of Stavanger may help solve a decades-old mystery.

Experts consulted by the North Sea Link program identified the wreck as an RAF Short Stirling heavy bomber, which played a key role in delivering supplies from Britain to Norwegian resistance fighters during the war.

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The Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU) brought in World War II aviation enthusiast Bengt Stangvik to study the find. In a statement released by North Sea Link partner National Grid, Stangvik explained that several Short Stirlings disappeared without a trace on missions to Norway during the winter of 1944 to 1945. “Based on the location of this wreck, it is probable that it was on a mission to drop supplies to the resistance forces in western Norway,” he said.

Stangvik noted that, of 30 British aircraft that went missing on missions to the Norwegian resistance, 19 were Short Stirlings. The discovery off Stavanger is likely to be one of six Short Stirlings that are still unaccounted for, he said.

The Short Stirling was the RAF’s first four-engine heavy bomber during World War II, according to Stangvik, who said that the planes encountered problems flying above 15,000 feet when fully loaded. With other RAF bombers able to fly higher, German Luftwaffe nightfighters concentrated their efforts on the Short Stirlings during attacks.

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A spokesman for National Grid in the U.K., which is working with Norwegian electricity company Statnett to build the North Sea Link, told Fox News that engineers have made a careful record of the wreckage site. “We have noted where the wreckage is,” he said, adding that the cable route will bypass the remains. “We will go around it to ensure that the wreck is not disturbed.”

National Grid contacted the Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre within the U.K.’s Ministry of Defence to notify them of the find.

In the statement, JCCC team member Sue Raftree acknowledged the potential discovery, but could not confirm it definitively. “Discoveries at sea are relatively rare due to their very location. A number of aircraft are known to have been lost in the North Sea during the course of the Second World War but we need positive evidence before we can confirm,” she said. “We would class this aircraft as a war grave. It is protected under the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986 which covers crashed military aircraft in both UK territorial and international waters.”

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Nigel Williams, North Sea Link project director for National Grid, explained that sonar equipment is used to scan the sea bed at depths between 328 feet and 1969 feet. Any objects or structures detected are marked as “target points” and investigated using a remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) or a ‘drop cam,’ he added.

“When images of what appeared to be an aircraft wheel came through, you can imagine our surprise. It was only when experts investigated the images in more detail that we learnt there was a strong possibility it could be a British aircraft that served during World War Two,” Williams said, in the statement. “Sadly, it appears the pilot and the crew of this particular aircraft were never able to complete their mission.”

WORKERS UNCOVER FORGOTTEN WWII MILITARY AIR RAID SHELTER

The 447-mile North Sea Link, which is expected to become operational in 2021, will enable the U.K. and Norway to trade electricity.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

Jack the Ripper mystery: Researchers hit roadblock

 Image result for Jack the Ripper mystery: Researchers hit roadblock

Mary Jane Kelly's grave marker (Carl Vivian University of Leicester).

Mary Jane Kelly’s grave marker (Carl Vivian University of Leicester).

Researchers looking to identify the last known victim of Jack the Ripper have hit a low-tech roadblock that will likely prevent them from unleashing their DNA testing technology on any potential remains.

Experts from the U.K’s University of Leicester that identified the remains of King Richard III have embarked on the project to identify Jack the Ripper’s last known victim – Mary Jane Kelly, who was also known as Marie Jeanette Kelly.

The infamous murderer is thought to have killed at least five young women in the Whitechapel area of London between August and November 1888.

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The scientists were commissioned by crime author Patricia Cornwell to examine the feasibility of finding Kelly’s exact burial location and her remains as a precursor to possible DNA analysis. In a statement, the University explained that the effort to establish Kelly’s true identity follows contact with Wynne Weston-Davies who believes that Mary Jane Kelly was actually his great aunt, Elizabeth Weston Davies.

In his 2015 book “The Real Mary Kelly,” Weston-Davies claims that the woman known as Mary Jane Kelly was living under a pseudonym and was actually his great-aunt.

As part of ‘The Mary Jane Kelly Project’ researchers have already assessed Kelly’s burial location, visiting St. Patrick’s Catholic Cemetery in Leytonstone, London last year. The team studied the cemetery’s burial records and surveyed marked graves near Kelly’s modern grave marker.

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But finding Kelly’s actual remains poses a massive challenge, with the grave marker likely having little relevance to her actual grave. Dr. Turi King, reader in genetics and archaeology at the University of Leicester explained that the precise location of Kelly’s grave is unknown; making it highly likely that other remains would have to be disturbed in any exhumation. King noted that the communal gravesite where Kelly was buried was reused in the 1940s, making the researchers’ job extremely difficult, if not impossible.

“For the DNA testing to go ahead, it’s crucial that we know the remains we have are those of Mary Jane Kelly and given what we know, the likelihood of even finding her remains, let alone identifying them accurately, appears highly unlikely,” she told Fox News, via email.

To complete an exhumation application to the U.K.’s Ministry of Justice, researchers would have to make a compelling case for the exhumation as well as provide detailed information on the grave’s location, as well as determining whether other remains might be disturbed, according to King.

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The University of Leicester team estimates that, in order to locate Kelly’s remains, they would have to excavate an area potentially encompassing hundreds of graves.

“As information presently stands, a successful search for Kelly’s remains would require a herculean effort that would likely take years of research, would be prohibitively costly and would cause unwarranted disturbance to an unknown number of individuals buried in a cemetery that is still in daily use, with no guarantee of success,” said King, in the University’s statement. “Most human remains found during excavations remain stubbornly, and forever, anonymous and this must also be the fate of Mary Jane Kelly.”

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

‘The first Oval Office’: Museum will showcase Washington’s Revolutionary War tent

General George Washington's Revolutionary War field tent on display at the Museum of the American Revolution (Courtesy of the Museum of the American Revolution).

General George Washington’s Revolutionary War field tent on display at the Museum of the American Revolution (Courtesy of the Museum of the American Revolution).

A stunning artifact from the Revolutionary War – General George Washington’s field tent – will go on display when the Museum of the American Revolution opens its doors in April.

Dubbed “the first Oval Office,” the canvas tent will be the cornerstone of the Philadelphia-based Museum’s collection of approximately 3,000 Revolutionary War-era artifacts.

The museum’s opening on April 19 will be the first time in decades that the tent has been on public display.

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An iconic piece of U.S. history, the tent was likely made in Reading, Pennsylvania in early 1778 when Washington was camped at Valley Forge, according to the Museum. Deployed as a mobile field headquarters, the tent was used during many of the Revolutionary War’s key moments, such as the Siege of Yorktown, the war’s last major battle.

The Museum told Fox News that it obtained the tent when it acquired the Burk collection of Revolutionary War artifacts in 2003. In 1909 the Reverend Herbert Burk, an Episcopal priest in Valley Forge, purchased the tent for $5,000 from Mary Custis Lee, a descendant of Martha Washington. Burk, who wanted to create a museum dedicated to the nation’s founding, raised the tent’s purchase price from ordinary Americans.

Preparing to display the tent was a major undertaking for the Museum, which wanted to make the structure appear as if it were pitched in a field, but without putting tension on the centuries-old fabric. To solve the problem, structural engineers Keast & Hood designed an umbrella-like aluminum and fabric structure to display the tent.

ARCHAEOLOGISTS UNEARTH HISTORICAL TREASURE TROVE FROM 300-YEAR-OLD PHILADELPHIA TOILETS

To test the structure, the Museum brought in a team of tradespeople from Colonial Williamsburg to build a “stunt double” replica tent. “We used the replica tent on several separate occasions to test the structure, which took varying amounts of time,” explained a spokeswoman for the Museum, in an email to Fox News. “The installation of the actual tent took four days.”

Underlining the tent’s historical importance, the structure is situated in a dedicated 100-seat theater when the Museum opens to the public.

“A commander-in-chief needs a quiet place to think, and this tent was Washington’s only private space throughout much of the Revolutionary War,” said Dr. R. Scott Stephenson, the Museum’s vice president of collections exhibitions, and programming, in a statement emailed to Fox News. “When I started to read about how Washington would use this tent, the images that popped into my head were very familiar ones: images of John F. Kennedy in the Oval Office during the Cuban Missile Crisis, President Bush after 9/11. Thinking about the hard decisions that leaders have to make — and the emotions they must feel —  confirmed to me that this tent really did fulfill the role of the ‘First Oval Office.’ The decisions he made there would change the course of history.”

SHE WAS ONE OF GEORGE WASHINGTON’S SLAVES, UNTIL SHE MANAGED TO ESCAPE

The tent was last displayed “several decades ago” at Valley Forge National Historical Park, according to the Museum of the American Revolution.

Other Revolutionary War artifacts that will be on show at the Museum include a rare bible from the battle of Bunker Hill. The King James Bible is inscribed by American soldier Francis Merrifield, who thanks God for sparing his life in the bloody 1775 battle.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

Poignant farewells: Tragic Titanic letters up for auction

Dr. John Simpson's letter (Henry Aldridge & Son).

Dr. John Simpson’s letter (Henry Aldridge & Son).

Rare letters that provide a fascinating glimpse into life on Titanic and the liner’s fateful final moments are up for auction in the U.K.

A letter written by Titanic’s second officer Charles Lightoller provides an incredible snapshot into the ship’s sinking in 1912. Lightoller, the highest ranking surviving crew member, gives a first-person account of his farewell to crew members including the ship’s assistant surgeon Dr. John Simpson.

Titanic struck an iceberg at 11:40 p.m. ship’s time on April 14 1912 and sank just over two hours later with the loss of more than 1,500 lives, including Simpson.

“I deeply regret your loss, which is also mine,” Lightoller writes, in the letter sent to Simpson’s friend R.W. Graham of Holt & Co. in New York. “I may say I was practically the last man to speak to Dr. Simpson, and on this occasion he was walking along the boat-deck in company with Messrs. McElroy, Barker, Dr. O’Loughlin and four assistant pursers.”

“They were all perfectly calm in the knowledge that they had done their duty and were still assisting by showing a calm and cool exterior to the passengers,” he added. “Each one individually came up to me and shook hands. We merely exchanged the words ‘Goodbye, old man.’ This occurred shortly before the end and I am not aware that he was seen by anyone after.”

Lightoller’s letter was written on board S.S. Adriatic on May 1 1912 when he was returning to the U.K. after giving evidence at the U.S. inquiry into the loss of the White Star Line’s Titanic.

Another letter up for auction was the first written on board Titanic by Simpson. In the letter to the Adjutant of the First Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment, Simpson, a British Army reserve doctor, requests a transfer to the military’s inactive list so that he can perform his duties on Titanic. The letter was sent on April 9 1912, the day before Titanic’s fateful maiden voyage, and is written on the ship’s official stationary.

“The content of these letters is among the most important we have ever handled, to have an account of the last moments of the ship written by the ship’s most senior surviving officer on his return from the American Titanic enquiry is unprecedented,” Henry Aldridge & Son auctioneer Andrew Aldridge told FoxNews.com.

Related:

  • Titanic artifacts reveal gruesome discovery of tragic ship’s last lifeboat

  • Titanic treasures sold at UK auction

  • Did this iceberg sink the Titanic?

The letters have pre-sale estimates of $12,648 to $18,973 and $37,946 to $63,243, respectively and will be auctioned by Henry Aldridge & Son with other Titanic, White Star Line and ocean liner artifacts in Devizes, U.K. on Oct. 22.

A number of artifacts from the doomed ship were auctioned in the U.K. earlier this with the sextant used by the captain of rescue ship Carpathia selling for just under $97,000. Three photos and a handwritten note detailing the grisly discovery of Titanic’s last lifeboat were sold for $6,800.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

Hitler’s ‘device of destruction’ could fetch $300,000

 

NOW PLAYINGMost destructive weapon of all time for sale: Hitler’s phone

The telephone Adolf Hitler used to bark out orders that led to the deaths of millions is going on the auction block. The chipped red phone, with bits of its original black showing through, is engraved on the backside with the Fuhrer’s name and a swastika.

It could fetch as much as $300,000 when it goes up for sale Feb. 19. Alexander Historical Auctions in Maryland calls the Bakelite phone made by Siemens “Hitler’s mobile device of destruction” and says it was “arguably the most destructive ‘weapon’ of all time”; he is said to have used it during the war’s final two years.

Shortly after the Allied victory, a British officer removed the phone from the Fuhrerbunker, his son Ranulf Rayner, 82, tells CNN. “My father didn’t see it as a relic of Hitler’s glory days, more a battered remnant of his defeat, a sort of war trophy.” The auction house explains that as the Russians gave Rayner’s father, Ralph, a tour of the bunker, they offered him the black phone used by Hitler’s wife, Eva Braun.

He responded that his favorite color was red, and so they handed him Hitler’s phone instead. His other souvenir: a porcelain Alsatian “almost certainly personally presented to Hitler by Heinrich Himmler,” per the auction house, which says the elder Rayner saw it on Hitler’s desk.

The dog statue, made at the Dachau concentration camp, could fetch $35,000. “It’s a pretty nasty thing, just as sinister as the phone,” Ranulf Rayner tells CNN.

It’s not the only Hitler auction to grab recent headlines: Amid protests by Jewish groups, an Argentine bidder spent more than $650,000 on Hitler’s jacket and other memorabilia at a 2016 auction in Munich, per AFP.

Braun’s things were also recently sold.

This article originally appeared on Newser: One of History’s Deadliest Phones Will Be Sold

Ancient underwater potato garden uncovered in Canada

 Submerged rock pavement (shown here) would have allowed the indigenous people to control how far their tubers grew, making for easier harvesting. (Credit: Katzie Development Limited Partnership)

Submerged rock pavement (shown here) would have allowed the indigenous people to control how far their tubers grew, making for easier harvesting. (Credit: Katzie Development Limited Partnership)

This harvest came 3,000 years too late.

Hundreds of blackened potatoes were pulled out of the ground at a prehistoric garden in British Columbia, Canada.

Dating back to 3,800 years before the present, the garden was once underwater, in an ecologically rich wetland. And it shows signs of sophisticated engineering techniques used to control the flow of water to more efficiently grow wild wapato tubers, also known as Indian potatoes. [The 25 Most Mysterious Archaeological Finds on Earth]

Archaeologists led by Tanja Hoffmann of the Katzie Development Limited Partnership and Simon Fraser University in British Columbia uncovered the garden during roadwork on Katzie First Nation territory just east of Vancouver, near the Fraser River.

The site had been waterlogged for centuries, resulting in good preservation of plants and other organic materials like wooden tools that would have normally disintegrated over time.

In all, the researchers counted 3,767 whole and fragmented wapato plants (Sagittaria latifolia). Today, these plants are found in wetlands across southern Canada and the United States. Though they were not domesticated, the chestnut-sized roots had long been important to indigenous people, and they are mentioned in some of the first ethnographic accounts of the Pacific Northwest. Explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, for example, were offered wapato roots at a native village near present-day Portland, Oregon. Clark wrote in his diary that the plant resembled a “small Irish potato,” and after being roasted, had “an agreeable taste and answers very well in place of bread.”

The ancient tubers that were found in British Columbia had turned dark brown to black in color, and some still had their starchy insides preserved.

The garden had been covered in tightly packed, uniformly sized rocks, leading the researchers to conclude that this was a man-made deposit. Wapato plants can grow far underground, but an artificial rock “pavement” would have controlled how deep the roots could penetrate. This would have allowed the harvesters to more easily find the tubers and pull them out of the muck, Hoffmann and her colleagues wrote in their study, published Dec. 21 in the journal Science Advances.

Besides this waterlogged garden, the archaeological site also had a dry area where people would have lived. The researchers also found about 150 wooden tools that would have been used to dig out the plants.

Radiocarbon dates from the burnt wood found at the site suggest it dates back to 3,800 years ago and was abandoned 3,200 years ago.

The site could represent the first direct evidence of wetland plant cultivation in the prehistoric Pacific Northwest, according to the report on this discovery.

Original article on Live Science.

The long guns: History of US military rifles

U.S. Army Sgt. Andrew Barnett armed with the M14 enhanced battle rifle outside an Afghan border police observation point in Kunar province, Afghanistan (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jon Heinrich)

U.S. Army Sgt. Andrew Barnett armed with the M14 enhanced battle rifle outside an Afghan border police observation point in Kunar province, Afghanistan (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jon Heinrich)

The U.S. Army’s upgraded M4A1 combat rifle is just the latest development in a category of weapons that American soldiers have carried since the country’s earliest days.

Long Gun Beginnings

Even before there was actually a “United States” there was what could arguably be considered the first true “American rifle.” Known as the Pennsylvania rifle, the Kentucky rifle or simply the long rifle, it was designed for hunting and was characterized by an unusually long barrel, a unique development that was uncommon in the European rifles of the era.

Military history consultant and former United States Marine Corps Captain Dale Dye told FoxNews.com that, in the flintlock era, the long gun was the first to have grooves in the barrel. “These grooves, or rifling, along with the longer barrel, made the guns much more accurate than the British Brown Bess musket,” he said.

HISTORY OF REMOTE WEAPONS IN PICTURES

The long rifle wasn’t ever produced in large enough numbers to truly make a difference during the American Revolution, but its use by sharpshooters – such as members of Morgan’s Riflemen at the 1777 Battle of Saratoga established the reputation of the American marksman.

The first truly big leap forward in long gun design came with the Caliber .54, Model 1841 Rifle, which was the first to utilize a percussion ignition system. The Model 1841 is sometimes called the Mississippi Rifle due to its use by a Mississippi rifle regiment during the Mexican War between 1846 and 1848. The regiment was commanded by future Confederate States President Jefferson Davis.

Davis, who served as Secretary of War under President Franklin Pierce, also authorized the production of the .58 Caliber Musket, or Springfield Model 1861, the first rifled weapon to be produced for general issue by the U.S. Army. The Springfield Model 1861 would go on to be the most widely used U.S Army weapon during the Civil War.

HISTORY OF THE ‘JEEP’ IN PICTURES

The rest of the 19th century saw other innovations in rifle design including the Springfield Model 1873 “Trapdoor”, a single shot weapon that was not without its problems, and later the Model 1896 Krag-Jorgensen, a reliable but underwhelming bolt action rifle.

Truly American Rifles of the 20th Century

The real change came with the Springfield Model 1903 – an American take on a European classic.

“The Springfield was patterned after the (German-made) Mauser action,” said Dye. “It didn’t have an overly deep magazine, but it was accurate to 800 yards and could be fitted with a scope and used as a sniper version.”

HISTORIC TANKS IN PICTURES

The Springfield M1903 was the standard infantry rifle for all branches of the military during World War I, and was used widely during the early phases of World War II. It was replaced by what has been called one of the finest weapons of the 20th century, the M1 Garand, named after its inventor John Garand.

“This was the first successful semi-automatic used by any military,” Dye told FoxNews.com. “It is extremely rugged, extremely accurate.”

The M1 Garand, which will celebrate its 80th anniversary next year, was a significant improvement over the bolt action rifles of the day, which required that the weapon was manually cocked between each shot.

HISTORIC AIRCRAFT CARRIERS IN PICTURES

“This was really a game changer as it was semi-automatic and held eight rounds,” R. Lee Ermey, better known as the “Gunny”, former United States Marine Corps staff sergeant and host of the Outdoor Channel’s “Gunny Time”, told FoxNews.com. “It could be argued it helped win World War II.”

After the war the military planners sought to find a one-size fits all rifle, and the result was the M14, which was actually developed to replace four different weapons systems that included the M1 rifle, the M1 Carbine, the M3 “Grease Gun” submachine gun, and the M1918 Browning Automatic Bar (BAR). The upsized M1 had its fans, including the Marine Corps, which still issued one to each platoon in the Vietnam War.

“The M14 could hold its own against the bad guy gun, the AK-47,” added Ermey. “The problem is that it went with a smaller round than the M1, so it lost some of its punch.”

HISTORIC BOMBERS IN PICTURES

The M14 utilized the 7.62x51mm NATO round, or .308 caliber, which was too powerful for use in fully automatic mode as a replacement for a submachine gun, but yet too light to serve as a replacement for the BAR. In the end,  however, the problem wasn’t so much the gun, but rather the situation.

“It was a little too late for the changing tactics of the conflict,” said Dye. “The select fire didn’t work out as well as planned. It had too heavy a cartridge for close-quarter fighting, and it made for a heavy weapon. While you are willing to trade weight for firepower, the rifle was not ideal for the situation in Vietnam.”

The irony is that the weapon that replaced the M14 proved not to be ideal at first either. The M16 had a rough baptism of fire, largely due to the fact that it was erroneously billed as self-cleaning and issued without cleaning kits.

SHOT SHOW 2016 IN PICTURES

“It had a turbulent introductory period,” said Dye. “The problem for the M16 is that it was introduced while fighting was going on, and this didn’t allow for the familiarization period that small arms really need. As a result it cost lives, and that is what you don’t ever want to do.”

The other problem with the M16 was the fact that military planners switched the ammunition to one that produced more fouling, and this resulted in jams. The rifle, however, was refined with the M16A1 version.

“The Americans don’t have a good track record of backing up,” Dye told FoxNews.com. “With the M16 this meant improving it and it proved to be a reliable weapon.”

AUSA 2016: TANKS, TRUCKS AND MORE TECH

As the battlefield changed, the military adapted as well with the introduction of the M4 Carbine, a shorter and lighter variant of the M16A2. This has replaced the M16 in most U.S. Army and Marine Corps combat units as the primary infantry weapon today.

“Lightening the load has been the constant quest and the result is the slimmed down M16,” said Dye. “Engagement tactics said we didn’t need the long-range weapon for combat.”

The other refinement of the M4 has been its modular design, which allows it to be fitted with numerous accessories including bipods, laser pointers, telescopic sights and even grenade launchers. However, even in the M4A1 version the military may not have found the definitive rifle for the next battlefield. While the M4A1 may be more lethal at close range, there is still a need for taking out targets at distance.

“The next challenge is going to be that long range rifle,” said Dye. “This isn’t about arming everyone with it, or even making it a sniper rifle, but there is a need for long range shooting and that is going to be the challenge to find the next great long range weapon for the U.S. Army.”

Utah to spend $138,000 to restore Butch Cassidy’s cabin

NOW PLAYINGButch Cassidy: Non-violent criminal or first US gangster?

Utah state officials are going to spend $138,000 to restore a decaying wood cabin in Piute County that has become a tourist spot because it’s believed to be the boyhood home of outlaw Butch Cassidy.

The Utah Legislature has authorized $138,000 to disassemble the decrepit cabin outside Circleville and put it back together piece by restored piece, KSL-TV reported.

“It’s slowly degrading,” said Piute County Commissioner Darin Bushman. “It’s not on a real foundation and it’s slowly tilting and leaning and listing. And we just, we really wanted to preserve the cabin.”

ZION NATIONAL PARK MAY START LIMITING TOURISTS

The state is also working to build a parking lot big enough for 20 cars and four buses.

“We took some counts,” Bushman said. “We were getting between 60 and 90 cars a day stopping here, out on the highway.”

The cabin is currently owned by Afton Morgan, but many believe it is where Cassidy grew up. Cassidy, whose real name was Robert Leroy Parker, was born in Beaver in 1866 and the Parker family did live in the Circleville cabin. It is unknown if Cassidy lived there with his family of if he had already left to live the life of an outlaw.

“There’s a lot of rumors of that,” Morgan said. “But to the best of our knowledge, Butch came here when he was just a young boy. I’ve heard all the way from 8 to 12 years old.”

Fred Hayes, director of the Utah Division of State Parks, said his agency will develop information signs for the historic site. He said the division will do its best to get the history right, including the ongoing debate on whether or not the law ever caught Cassidy.

HOW MANY PEOPLE ACTUALLY DIE IN NATIONAL PARKS?

In the popular 1969 movie about the outlaw, “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” the gang of outlaws flees to South America and dies in a shootout in 1908. Morgan said he doesn’t believe the Hollywood ending.

“I don’t buy that story, nope!” Morgan said. “We have people from Panguitch and people from Circleville, and they claim they saw him in the ’30s.”

Inside the new effort to entomb Chernobyl’s wreckage

In this Monday, Nov. 14, 2016 photo an arch-shaped shelter, in Chernobyl, Ukraine, has begun creeping toward the exploded Chernobyl nuclear reactor in what represents a significant step toward liquidating the remains of the world's worst nuclear accident.

In this Monday, Nov. 14, 2016 photo an arch-shaped shelter, in Chernobyl, Ukraine, has begun creeping toward the exploded Chernobyl nuclear reactor in what represents a significant step toward liquidating the remains of the world’s worst nuclear accident.  (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development via AP)

In the aftermath of the world’s worst nuclear disaster in Chernobyl in 1986, which resulted in radiation that ultimately reached as far as Japan and the US, the Soviet Union slapped together a massive sarcophagus of metal and concrete as hastily as possible to contain further fallout at the site of reactor 4.

With no welded or bolted joints and a leaky roof that led to corrosion “hastening its demise,” it was never seen as a permanent solution, reports Live Science.

Construction began on its enormous replacement, the New Safe Confinement, in 2012. Now French consortium Novarka is using 224 hydraulic jacks to slowly slide the steel structure 1,070 feet to cover the ruins in Ukraine.

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(The site is too dangerous to build over.) “The start of the sliding of the Arch over reactor 4 … is the beginning of the end of a 30-year-long fight with the consequences of the 1986 accident,” says Ukraine’s minister of ecology and natural resources, per the BBC.

At 354 feet high, 531 feet wide, and 843 feet long, the $1.6 billion arch is taller than the Statue of Liberty and the largest man-made structure to ever move across land.

It should last 100 years and withstand a tornado. Next, robotic cranes will take the sarcophagus apart and vacuum cleaners operated by remote workers will remove radioactive dust.

The main sponsor of the project, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, plans to complete installation on Nov. 29, reports AFP. (Amid Chernobyl’s ruins, one thing of value remains.)

This article originally appeared on Newser: Robots and Giant Sliding Dome Are Finally Sealing Chernobyl

Great Molasses Flood of 1919: Why this deluge of goo was so deadly

 In 1919, a collapsed molasses tank sent a towering wave of the sticky mess through the streets, ensnaring everything from humans to horses to homes. The wreckage of the tank can be seen in the upper-right of the image.

In 1919, a collapsed molasses tank sent a towering wave of the sticky mess through the streets, ensnaring everything from humans to horses to homes. The wreckage of the tank can be seen in the upper-right of the image.  (Boston Public Library)

A bubbling flood of molasses that sent a towering wave of goo down the streets of Boston in 1919, catching everything from horses to humans in its sticky grasp, killing 21 people, injuring 150 more and flattening buildings in its wake. Now, scientists have figured out why the deluge of viscous sweetener was so deadly.

Cool temperatures may have caused the spilled molasses to flow more slowly, complicating attempts to rescue victims and to begin recovery and cleanup, researchers report in a new study.

On Jan. 15, 1919, shortly after 12:40 p.m. local time, a giant storage tank 50 feet tall and 90 feet wide on Boston’s waterfront at the Purity Distilling Co. collapsed in the city’s crowded North End, according to newspapers at the time. It released more than 2.3 million gallons of molasses. [The 10 Weirdest Spills in Nature]

The wave from the flood, which reached about 25 feet tall, oozed at more than 50 feet per second, the researchers of the new study said. It took just moments for the molasses — a standard sweetener at the time — to engulf Boston’s Commercial Street area.

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According to a report from The Boston Post from 1919, “Molasses, waist deep, covered the street and swirled and bubbled about the wreckage … Here and there struggled a form‍ —‌ whether it was animal or human being was impossible to tell. Only an upheaval, a thrashing about in the sticky mass, showed where any life was … Horses died like so many flies on sticky fly-paper. The more they struggled, the deeper in the mess they were ensnared. Human beings‍ —‌ men and women‍ —‌ suffered likewise.”

How molasses flows

Scientists began investigating the science of this disaster this year, after undergraduate students produced a video about the flood in May. “To gather relevant details about the flood and its aftermath, I’ve read hundreds of pages of historical accounts and contemporary newspaper articles, studied century-old maps of buildings in the area, and even called the National Weather Service to request historic meteorological data,” lead study author Nicole Sharp, a Denver-based aerospace engineer and fluid dynamicist, said in a statement.

The scientists also investigated the properties of blackstrap molasses, focusing on how temperature affected its rate of flow. “The goal is to take our knowledge and understanding of highly viscous spreading flows and apply that to the Boston Molasses Flood,” Sharp said in the statement. [The Mysterious Physics of 7 Everyday Things]

The researchers found that at the time of the collapse, the air temperature would have been around 41 degrees Fahrenheit. The molasses, however, had arrived from the Caribbean to top off the tank only two days before the flood, and was likely a balmy 50 to 68 degrees F when it was first delivered. Boston winter temperatures would have cooled the molasses down, but it would still likely have been a few degrees warmer than the surrounding air, Sharp said.

Once the tank collapsed, the molasses started flowing quickly over the waterfront. The scientists found that temperature could greatly influence molasses’s viscosity, or the degree to which it resists flowing.

“Temperatures dipped just below freezing the night following the accident,” Sharp told Live Science. “Based on our data, it’s possible the viscosity of the molasses increased by a factor of four or more due to that drop in temperature. That does not sound like such a big difference, but the high viscosity of the molasses was a major factor for rescue work.”

For example, “a group of men were trapped in a nearby firehouse when the molasses knocked the building off its foundation and caused the upper floor to collapse atop them,” Sharp said. “Reaching them took hours, and one of the men, George Layhe, grew so exhausted fighting against the molasses hour after hour that he ultimately drowned when he could no longer hold his head up.”

Tank failure

The tank had its share of issues even before the disaster.

“The molasses tank was originally built in December 1915 under the direction of a manager, Arthur Jell, with no technical background,” Sharp said. “The tank leaked throughout its short lifetime, and the response of United States Industrial Alcohol’s management to the comments and complaints about the leakage was to paint the tank brown so that the leaks were less noticeable.”  (United States Industrial Alcohol was the parent company ofthe Purity Distilling Co.)

“As an engineer, one of the things that struck me about the whole affair was the lack of professional ethics involved,” Sharp said. “We engineers have a professional and a moral obligation to ensure that what we design and build is safe. People’s lives and livelihoods are at risk if we fail. The Boston Molasses Flood is a reminder of what can happen when corners are cut and when warnings about a structure’s failing integrity are ignored.”

Sharp hopes to figure out what was going on in the tank prior to its collapse. “Two days before the rupture, warm molasses was pumped into the bottom of a tank of cold molasses,” she said. “Historical accounts say that the tank walls ‘groaned’ after such deliveries, presumably due to the mixing between the warm and cold molasses. That’s a problem I’d like to simulate using computational fluid dynamics, both to try and address the rumbling described by accounts and to have a clearer idea of what temperature the molasses might have been at the time of the disaster.”

The physics of the Boston Molasses Flood are relevant to other accidents that affect the public, including industrial spills or breaking levees. However, the main goal of this work is education.

“Ultimately, I hope that by shedding some light on the physics of a fascinating and surreal historical event, our work can inspire a greater appreciation for fluid dynamics among our students and the public,” Sharp said.

Sharp and her colleagues Jordan Kennedy and Shmuel Rubinstein, both at Harvard University, detailed their findings today (Nov. 21) at the annual meeting of the American Physical Society’s Division of Fluid Dynamics in Portland, Oregon.

Editor’s Note: This article was updated to correct the temperature of the molasses when the disaster happened.

Original article on Live Science.

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