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Spies on the Roof of the World

Article #289 • Written by Alan Bellows

▼ Scroll to Continue ▼

In the closing weeks of 1964, the US Central Intelligence Agency was gripped by anxiety in the wake of troubling news. On October 16th, a great mushroom cloud had been spotted towering over the remote Chinese missile-testing range at Lop Nur. All evidence had indicated that Chinese scientists were at least a year away from squeezing the destructive secrets from the mighty atom, but this bombshell underscored the agency's dangerously feeble espionage efforts in the Far East.

Details regarding the twenty-two kiloton device were scarce, but the US regarded the development as an unwelcome wrinkle in the already precarious Cold War. Officials from India were also distressed, having felt the business end of China's military during a recent border dispute. In the interest of self-preservation, the two nations made a secret pact to combine their China-watching efforts. Photo reconnaissance satellites were still too primitive for practical spying, and high-flying surveillance planes were too conspicuous, but there was one alternative vantage point. The intelligence agencies hatched a nefarious scheme to keep a sharp eye on China's weapons tests from atop India's Nanda Devi, one of the tallest mountains of the imposing Himalayan mountain range. It offered an unobstructed view of China's distant test site, assuming one could manage to hoist a sufficiently powerful electronic eye to its summit.

Several months after the Chinese nuclear test, a young doctor at the University of Washington Hospital in Seattle was doing his rounds when he heard his name paged over the intercom. Upon his arrival at the front lobby, he was confronted by an sinister-looking man clad in dark glasses and a trench coat.

The peak of Nanda Devi
The peak of Nanda Devi

"Robert Schaller?" The enigmatic visitor pulled back the flap of his coat to reveal something inside. Jutting from an inner pocket was an airline ticket. "How would you like to go to the Himalayas?" the man inquired.

The CIA, he explained, was seeking a physician with experience in electronics and mountain-climbing, a combination of requirements which produced relatively few candidates. Schaller satisfied all of the criteria, having become obsessed with climbing over the previous few years. In exchange for his service and silence, the agency offered $1,000 per month; a considerable stipend at the time. Unable to resist the generous salary, the once-in-a-lifetime mountaineering opportunity, and the prospect of patriotic employment, he hastily agreed. His training was scheduled to begin almost immediately.

Over time Dr. Schaller's colleagues at the hospital grew curious regarding his recent rash of conspicuous absences. He often returned having lost a few pounds and gained a few injuries, but when pressed for an explanation he was evasive. His official cover story was that he was being trained as a scientist-astronaut, but he declined to elaborate. The true nature of his outings was a closely guarded secret, withheld even from his own family.

Each training mission began by venturing into a canvas tunnel which led to an airplane with blacked-out windows. Often Schaller traveled with an assortment of citizen-spy companions, including Tom Frost, a climber famed for his Yosemite exploits; and expedition leader Captain Mohan Singh Kohli, a mountaineer renowned for his Everest expeditions. Many of the others were unfamiliar to Schaller, but he reasoned that they were scientists or professors, considering their knowledge of nuclear technology. Over a period of months he and the other operatives became acquainted with the subtleties of leaping from helicopters, demolishing targets with plastic explosives, and handling the experimental atomic-powered hardware which was developed specifically for their mission. Also, to prepare for the climb ahead, the men were required to repeatedly drag the equipment up the formidable cliffs of Alaska.

A personnel helicopter moving men to the Sanctuary
A personnel helicopter moving men to the Sanctuary

In the fall of 1965, a year after the first Chinese nuclear bomb test, the crew of clandestine climbers assembled at the Sanctuary, a natural fortress of Himalayan mountain peaks which surrounded their objective: Nanda Devi. Previously only six souls had managed to summit the 25,000-foot behemoth-- known by the locals as "the Goddess"-- and of those six only three had survived the dangerous descent. Captain Kohli and his crew anticipated an even more complicated climb owing to the heavy surveillance package they were required to heft up the mountain with them. But nonetheless Schaller and his mountaineering compatriots were eager to embark on the historic ascent.

Together the dozen climbers and Sherpas slowly scaled the side of the Goddess. By day the extra equipment hindered their upward progress, but by night the atomic contraption provided a pocket of warmth for the adventurers. Nestled within the forty-pound generator was sufficient plutonium to power the surveillance package for a thousand years, thereby providing the US and India with uninterrupted observation of Chinese nuclear bombs and Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) tests.

For several days the crew clambered up the face of Nanda Devi as Dr. Schaller cataloged the journey with his camera and diaries. The gaggle of makeshift secret agents crossed the crevasse-riddled glaciers with the help of steel-spiked shoes and ice axes, gradually making their way to High Camp-- the last stop before the summit. The Goddess' perilous peak stood a mere 1,000 feet above them. But as the team settled in, the sky around Nanda Devi grew dark and restless. The frigid air mingled with moisture, and the stew swiftly thickened into a surly autumn blizzard.

Faced with the threat of being whisked away by the atmospheric tantrum, expedition leader Captain Kohli concluded that the team must turn back, postponing the mission until the spring climbing season. Kohli ordered that the surveillance package be lashed to the mountainside, much to the surprise and chagrin of his fellow climbers. He reasoned that the team could reacquire the equipment on the next ascent rather than hauling it up the mountain again. The team secured the antenna, two transceiver sets, and nuclear generator on a rocky outcropping, then hastily fled from the detestable weather.

Dr. Schaller on Nanda Devi
Dr. Schaller on Nanda Devi

The team returned the following spring, planning to retrieve their nuclear parcel and tote it the remaining distance to the mountain top. When they reached High Camp, Dr. Schaller and his comrades sought out the crag which had cradled their abandoned equipment throughout the winter. Their stash, however, was nowhere to be seen. A quick survey of the scene suggested that the stone ledge had been sheared from the mountainside by an avalanche, presumably embedding the generator and its seven cigar-shaped plutonium rods deep into the ice fields below. Met with this alarming discovery, the CIA operatives presumably embedded their breakfasts into their pants.

No one could be certain what would become of the core in the glacier's clutches, but there was cause for great concern. There were two equally alarming prospects: the nuclear fuel might fall into the wrong hands, leading to any number of diabolical designs; or the slab of migrating ice might slowly grind the plutonium into a paste and deposit it into the Sanctuary melt waters, shuttling the four pounds of radioactive material into the vital Ganges River.

For the next two years, the CIA sent scores of Geiger-counter-carrying climbers and specially-outfitted helicopters to comb the ice fields for any trace of the powerplant. Meanwhile, Schaller and his team scaled a neighboring mountain and successfully installed a similar explosion-observing, missile-monitoring apparatus. They then joined the search efforts to locate the misplaced plutonium, but aside from a few Geiger-counter clicks, there was not a trace to be found. The prolonged search did, however, afford Schaller the opportunity to finally summit the elusive Nanda Devi; he stole away from High Camp during the pre-dawn hours for an unauthorized climb. Ever the documentarian, Schaller snapped a photo of himself at the summit for posterity.

As the final Himalayan expedition drew to a close, the team's official government operative asked to borrow Schaller's photographs and journals to help him file the mission report. Dr. Schaller happily complied, but after several months the documents remained unreturned. His subsequent requests for the materials were rebuffed, the CIA citing the need for security. Additionally, the doctor was awarded the Intelligence Medal of Merit for his contributions, but the two agents who presented the medal in a private ceremony were not allowed to leave the medal with him. Even today, decades after the espionage operations, Schaller's requests for his documents are met with letters stating that "the CIA can neither confirm nor deny the existence or non-existence of records responsive to your request."

A Chinese soldier and his horse prepare to participate in exercises during a nuclear test
A Chinese soldier and his horse prepare to participate in exercises during a nuclear test

Dr. Schaller's marriage, strained by the secrecy of the covert missions, finally collapsed after thirteen years. But he went on to establish himself as a brilliant pediatric surgeon at a Children's hospital in Seattle. He remained silent regarding the clandestine climbing operations until 2005, when the expedition leader Captain Kohli released a book detailing their shared Himalayan adventures.

To the best of Dr. Schaller's knowledge, the Central Intelligence Agency never managed to reacquire their missing nuclear appliance. But a water sample from the Sanctuary in 2005 showed troubling hints of plutonium-239, an isotope which does not occur naturally. Years, decades, or centuries from now, the corpse of the rogue generator may yet rise from its icy grave and exact a radioactive revenge upon humanity. However, the CIA can neither confirm nor deny the existence or non-existence of a disaster approximating the aforementioned depiction.

Article written by Alan Bellows, published on 28 August 2007. Alan is the founder/designer/head writer/managing editor of Damn Interesting.

Article design and artwork by Alan Bellows. Suggested by Shad Larsen..
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117 Comments
Markr
Posted 28 August 2007 at 06:48 am

Seems the habit of losing radioactive material isn't a new phenomenon then ......


racuda
Posted 28 August 2007 at 06:49 am

Another DI article!


bythewaygnome
Posted 28 August 2007 at 06:58 am

When did using 4 pounds of Plutonium for a spy camera seem like a good idea?


Timmmm
Posted 28 August 2007 at 07:16 am

How else would you power it?


draz
Posted 28 August 2007 at 07:22 am

I wonder how they kept warm with the reactor without expsoing themselves to high levels of radiation, and radiating themselves?


Displaced in Florida
Posted 28 August 2007 at 07:36 am

The article mentioned six people to reach the summit before Dr. Shaller. And me, with the sixth post. Hmmmmmmmm...........D.I. indeed.


deco05ie
Posted 28 August 2007 at 08:00 am

well someone had to get the 6th post lol


MacGyver
Posted 28 August 2007 at 08:12 am

And the eighth...


Radiatidon
Posted 28 August 2007 at 08:12 am

Minor question. If the CIA kept all the photos and documents, then how did you get the picture above of Dr. Schaller on Nanda Devi? Gasp… Alan is a CIA operative?

Pulling open a drawer, he digs frantically causing a cascade of conspiracy documents to spill across the floor. Fumbles momentarily, then puts a tin-foil cap on his head. With an all-knowing smile The Don leans back in his leather chair.

…almost had me there… ;)

This story really did not surprise me, did enjoy it though. Never heard of it, but have had experience of lost or misplaced government equipment. For instance, during a test of a cruise missile at Dougway testing grounds in Utah during the 1970’s, the guidance system failed. The missile went down on the Idaho side of Bear Lake, into a really swampy area. We never did find it.

We lost trucks, jeeps, tanks, and even a heavy-lift crane in the salt desert, more of the ground eating them up than someone stealing them. The salt flats being an ancient lakebed and all.

Also have had my fair share of meetings with various Cloak – n – Dagger types.

Then there was the time some fools tried to sneak an F-16 avionics package, nose cone and all, off the base. Turned into a quick shoot-out with the military police. Aw yes, good ol’ espionage.


Schandlich
Posted 28 August 2007 at 08:24 am

I just was watching something about this on Sports Center of all shows. I think I remember one, if not all, of the surviving members blaming their recent bouts of cancer on this mission.


Nicki the Heinous
Posted 28 August 2007 at 08:34 am

I can neither confirm nor deny the existence or non-existence of my being intrigued by this article. Security reasons.


dr_toonie
Posted 28 August 2007 at 08:50 am

Well, that deserves a big "Oh Shit".


baconbits
Posted 28 August 2007 at 08:53 am

Incredible and DI article...
Hope the radioactive slury stays put until such time mankind might actually know what to do with it.


nukebass
Posted 28 August 2007 at 09:11 am

A pocket-size nuclear powerplant??? Jeez! That's what I call D.I.! I wonder if one day I'll have my laptop powered by such a thing... :-) Or even my mobile phone! LOL! Just kiddin' :-P


smokefoot
Posted 28 August 2007 at 09:17 am

"I wonder how they kept warm with the reactor without expsoing themselves to high levels of radiation, and radiating themselves?"

The reactor is encased in lead, which absorbs the radioactivity and gets warm. Actually, the device is a nuclear battery rather than a reactor - invented in 1913 and heavily used by NASA in the 1960's for space travel (and more recently too - there have been protests around launching nuclear powered space probes). A nuclear battery is much smaller than a reactor, but not very efficient.


Wcoltd
Posted 28 August 2007 at 09:18 am

Oh cool, I suggested this story be put up about 2 months ago. Its good to see it made it on the website. If you want to know the full story read
An Eye at the top the World by Pete Takeda


Radiatidon
Posted 28 August 2007 at 09:20 am

Radiatidon said: "For instance, during a test of a cruise missile at Dougway testing grounds"

Red Faced

Uh... that was Dugway testing grounds. Sorry.


ggnutsc
Posted 28 August 2007 at 09:37 am

I'm sure the CIA would have preferred that they wait out the blizzard... Even if they had all died there would have been nobody to tell the story that they can neither confirm nor deny. My guess is that the powerplant will show up someday and when it does, it will probably be surrounded by all of those socks that come up missing from the laundry.


Nicki the Heinous
Posted 28 August 2007 at 10:02 am

smokefoot said: ""I wonder how they kept warm with the reactor without expsoing themselves to high levels of radiation, and radiating themselves?"

The reactor is encased in lead . . . ."

Oh great. Lead. That's much better. Isn't lead poisoning behind the death of some famous polar explorers, due to their food supply being encased in lead-sealed cans? It's ringing a bell . . . . refresh my memory?


Kao_Valin
Posted 28 August 2007 at 10:39 am

I'm sure they didnt cook their food on the nuclear battery. Working with lead and having it enter your bloodstream are two different things.

I wouldn't be too surprised if the device was stolen, but the theives just left radioactive trails to throw the hounds off the scent. MAYBE, the CIA purposely had them leave the device there to be stolen so that when someone tried to reverse engineer it well... any number of things. Couldve blown up, couldve gave away coordinates, hell couldve been poorly constructed so that reverse engineering wouldve yeilded a useless device. Counter Intelligence is fun :).


Radiatidon
Posted 28 August 2007 at 11:12 am

Nicki the Heinous said: "Oh great. Lead. That's much better. Isn't lead poisoning behind the death of some famous polar explorers, due to their food supply being encased in lead-sealed cans? It's ringing a bell . . . . refresh my memory?"

Nicki, that was the Franklin expedition headed by Sir John Franklin. NOVA had a show on it called Artic Passage

It was a very interesting show. Especially when they dug up the first three bodies. Eerie in how well preserved they were.

The Don.


hangar
Posted 28 August 2007 at 12:19 pm

smokefoot said: "... Actually, the device is a nuclear battery rather than a reactor..."

It would be an RTG, I imagine.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radioisotope_thermoelectric_generator


Alan Bellows
Posted 28 August 2007 at 01:28 pm

Moments ago I tweaked the text to remove the term "reactor", since smokefoot rightly pointed out that this wasn't technically a reactor. Thanks smokefoot!

Radiatidon said: "Minor question. If the CIA kept all the photos and documents, then how did you get the picture above of Dr. Schaller on Nanda Devi? Gasp... Alan is a CIA operative?"

If I'm not mistaken, the photo was taken by a faraway Chinese spy device which was trained upon Nanda Devi at the time.


Nicki the Heinous
Posted 28 August 2007 at 02:04 pm

Alan Bellows said: "If I'm not mistaken, the photo was taken by a faraway Chinese spy device which was trained upon Nanda Devi at the time."

Then how did he know to smile? Don't dodge our questions with well-meaning wit Alan, we're onto you ;-)

Kao_Valin . . with a ready source of radiant heat on a cold mountain face, they may have been tempted to warm their crumpets on it.

Don . . Thanks I had that one on the back burner but it still hadn't come to me.


RichVR
Posted 28 August 2007 at 04:46 pm

ggnutsc said: "I'm sure the CIA would have preferred that they wait out the blizzard… Even if they had all died there would have been nobody to tell the story that they can neither confirm nor deny. My guess is that the powerplant will show up someday and when it does, it will probably be surrounded by all of those socks that come up missing from the laundry."

Ridiculous. It's well known that the missing socks pass through a wormhole in the dryer and are converted into wire clothes hangers, which appear in your closet.


supercalafragalistic
Posted 28 August 2007 at 07:04 pm

dr_toonie said: "Well, that deserves a big "Oh Shit"."

Completely agreed with above statement. I'm just glad G. W. Bush wasn't in office at the time.

I love the picture of the man and his horse. First of all the horse's face is far better protected than the man's-- and what a crazy outfit for a horse no matter the circumstances!!! I'd love to see some pictures of pigs, elephants, or labradoodles that work for any central intelligence agency. Remember how they used to have pigeons trained to carry letters? I'd like to see the pigeons equally costumed with such excessive regalia. That would be hysterical.


minibro
Posted 28 August 2007 at 09:58 pm

Why would they need a thousand years worth of power... I know the Chinese have been around for awhile, but sheesh ! Couldn't they have made a smaller, lighter device to last, say 50 years ?


boolean
Posted 28 August 2007 at 11:16 pm

"Met with this alarming discovery, the CIA operatives presumably embedded their breakfasts into their pants."

HAHAHA! Nice one Mr. Bellows =D

You know, with movies like "Whos your caddy" and "Epic Movie" being made, I'm surprised something like this does not get turned into a movie. DI indeed!


Dr. Evil.
Posted 29 August 2007 at 01:18 am

If the nuclear battery was encased in lead then presumably it would be fairly heavy? And if is is very warm, and it landed on a glacier, then would it not melt its way to the bottom of the ice river and remain dormant? Wouldn't it make its own cavern around itself from the heat radiating off it and be unaffected by the movement of the glacier?


nona
Posted 29 August 2007 at 04:59 am

That was fascinating! And that last paragraph was chilling (as well as being funny - an awesome combination). Nothing else to say, just thought I'd mention that on the basis that all praise is worthwhile.


Richard
Posted 29 August 2007 at 05:08 am

How about a little credit here? Don't we Americans want an intelligence agency with the creativity to think of something like this, the audacity to make the attempt, and the talent and courage to come so close to pulling it off?


morpcat
Posted 29 August 2007 at 06:41 am

Richard said: "How about a little credit here? Don't we Americans want an intelligence agency with the insanity to think of something like this, the foolishness to make the attempt, and the foolhardiness and stubborness to come so close to pulling it off?"

Fixed.

I jest; very impressive effort. Though, no backup mountain team? No emergency equipment retrieval team? No geophysicists scanning the area? Yet they can afford and reasonably consider using a nuclear-powered spy camera? Incongruous!


jimmydt
Posted 29 August 2007 at 08:24 am

morpcat said: "Fixed.

I jest; very impressive effort. Though, no backup mountain team? No emergency equipment retrieval team? No geophysicists scanning the area? Yet they can afford and reasonably consider using a nuclear-powered spy camera? Incongruous!"

Remember that this was 40 years ago in a country on the other side of the world in the middle of the Himalayas.


Nicki the Heinous
Posted 29 August 2007 at 08:31 am

morpcat said: "Fixed.

I jest; very impressive effort. Though, no backup mountain team? No emergency equipment retrieval team? No geophysicists scanning the area? Yet they can afford and reasonably consider using a nuclear-powered spy camera? Incongruous!"

jimmydt said: "Remember that this was 40 years ago in a country on the other side of the world in the middle of the Himalayas."

And that they were probably trying to be somewhat stealthy and covert about it.


Kao_Valin
Posted 29 August 2007 at 10:35 am

morpcat said: "Though, no backup mountain team? No emergency equipment retrieval team? No geophysicists scanning the area? Yet they can afford and reasonably consider using a nuclear-powered spy camera? Incongruous!"

For all we know, the backup plan may still be secret as there were two such missions happening in parallel. This one however was the one to fail. Of course, this is speculation, just thought I'd mention that.

The use of a nuclear powered device is well serving of the situation the spy device would be dealing with. Imagine hauling up a convoy of gas tanks every month. Wouldn't that be more suspicious than the one trip the mission was supposed to accomplish the task with?

I think any nation with the ability to snatch up that device once it burried itself in the glacier would have more likely spent the time and effort stealing plans to make it themselves. Alternately, the device might have been "left" there so the CIA could unofficially sell the device to another country. With all the cloak and dagger you never know who is playing who for a fool.


Displaced in Florida
Posted 29 August 2007 at 10:39 am

Interesting. This all originated in 1964. I am posting the 35th post. (now come the Math part that DI posters seem to love) 1964 plus 35 equal 1999!

With universal acceptance, Prince's album "1999" is the best after hours party album of all time!!!!.........Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm.......DI indeed!


Displaced in Florida
Posted 29 August 2007 at 10:39 am

Uh-Oh Kao-Valin, you just disrupted the logical flow of my comment by beating me to the "submit" button.


Touchy
Posted 29 August 2007 at 11:13 am

Captain Kohli was a dumbass. Just add this to the long list of CIA mistakes. What an awful organization.


Mike I
Posted 29 August 2007 at 11:38 am

"Met with this alarming discovery, the CIA operatives presumably embedded their breakfasts into their pants."

Alan, that is one masterful and eloquent sentence. As a long-time sufferer of ulcerative colitis, I commend you.


Steve Shirt
Posted 29 August 2007 at 12:21 pm

Plutonium is not particularly radioactive unless it a large enough amount of it is brought together in close proximity.

Quote from Wikipedia:

"The isotope plutonium-238 (238Pu) has a half-life of 88 years and emits a large amount of thermal energy as it decays. Being an alpha emitter it combines high energy radiation with low penetration (thereby requiring minimal shielding). These characteristics make it well suited for safe electrical power generation for devices which must function without direct maintenance for timescales approximating a human lifetime. It is therefore used in radioisotope thermoelectric generators such as those powering the Cassini and New Horizons (Pluto) space probes; earlier versions of the same technology powered the ALSEP and EASEP systems including seismic experiments on the Apollo Moon missions.

238Pu has been used successfully to power artificial heart pacemakers, to reduce the risk of repeated surgery. It has been largely replaced by lithium based primary cells, but as of 2003 there were somewhere between 50 and 100 plutonium-powered pacemakers still implanted and functioning in living patients."


Radiatidon
Posted 29 August 2007 at 12:24 pm

minibro said: "Why would they need a thousand years worth of power… I know the Chinese have been around for awhile, but sheesh ! Couldn't they have made a smaller, lighter device to last, say 50 years ?"

As a side note why they used an “Atomic Battery”, so to speak.

An engine requires gas vapor to run. In cannot and will not run on liquid. The colder the temperature, the less likely the fuel will emit vapors. Instead it starts to gel. The fuel you purchase at the pump (for those in colder climes) in the winter is different than that in the summer.

Winter fuel has anti-gel agents, which decreases your overall mileage per gallon. Also take into account that metal, plastics, and rubber become more brittle with the cold, increasing the chance of a breakdown. Otherwise a generator requires more maintenance than a battery.

It may seem strange, but in 30 plus below zero temperatures (not wind chill) it becomes extremely hard to light a fire. At 40 plus below, a match will not light gasoline soaked wood. That is, if you can even get the match to light. In order to ignite there has to be a vapor emitted. The lowest temperature for gasoline is –40 Celsius (-40 F). This is called the flashpoint, or the lowest temperature that gasoline will emit vapors. A fuel can ignite at the flashpoint but that does not mean it will free burn. The temperature will still have to be at the fuel’s burn point, meaning the fuel is warm enough to emit a certain volume of vapor to promote a free burn. Otherwise the fuel will Flash then go out. Depending on the type of fuel, the burn point is usually a few degrees higher than the flashpoint.

A solar array is very dependent on amount of available sunlight. Tall mountains have a tendency to block atmospheric currents creating storm nurseries, thus less favorable for solar powered devices. Which become useless if snow accumulates on the solar collection panels.

A chemical battery would have to be one without a liquid core. A truly dry cell produces very little power and has an extremely short lifespan, otherwise very inefficient for its size and mass. Chemical batteries are also affected by cold weather, producing less power as the temperature plummets.

So the power source decided on was the only logical one, and by far the most cost efficient. It requires no support personnel on site 24/7. Has all the fuel it requires without outside resources, requires very little maintenance, and supplies all the power the devices needed.


Kao_Valin
Posted 29 August 2007 at 02:16 pm

Displaced in Florida said: "Uh-Oh Kao-Valin, you just disrupted the logical flow of my comment by beating me to the "submit" button."

Heh sorry about that. It was an interesting thought process thought :).


alamosh
Posted 29 August 2007 at 05:12 pm

I didn't know horses were also equipped with anti-radiation gear. DI!


oldmancoyote
Posted 29 August 2007 at 07:15 pm

Excellent article! Once again the U.S. gov't has lost a nuclear device.I'm kind of surprised after all of his efforts to get his journals returned that the good doctor never met with an unfortunate accident.
How about an article on the thermo-nuclear weapon lost from a wounded B-47 off the East coast. Circa 1957 I believe.


supercalafragalistic
Posted 29 August 2007 at 11:26 pm

Kao_Valin said: "For all we know, the backup plan may still be secret as there were two such missions happening in parallel. This one however was the one to fail. Of course, this is speculation, just thought I'd mention that.

I agree with the logic of this comment. Not knowing first hand about the event planning talents and extent to which CIA executives will think through details and follow through with execution of an ironclad success plan that would involve twice the effort and twice the money--- it is hard for me to say if they would actually do a double mission as you suggest or not. If people like you or I were in charge and had access to an unlimited budget I'm sure it would have happened that way. Clearly, that would make sense for such a dangerous mission. However, after years of working in the corporate world I have seen first hand that many times the people in charge will make the least sensible decisions. This is because they got to where they are through means other than being the smartest cookie. Again, with no first hand knowledge of the chain of command at the CIA one can only speculate if their leaders were chosen based on intelligence, ability, and merit or due to office politics. I'd like to think that the former was the case in the 60's, but would guess the latter could possibly be true today.


FixitDave
Posted 30 August 2007 at 04:29 am

Another DI article and another cock up by the American government...


WCASD
Posted 30 August 2007 at 04:46 am

A physician? Didn't you mean a physicist?
physician =/= physicist


WCASD
Posted 30 August 2007 at 04:48 am

^^^Nevermind, =].^^^


RichVR
Posted 30 August 2007 at 05:56 am

Maybe this whole article is disinformation and the mission was a complete success. Some people are so gullible.


HiEv
Posted 30 August 2007 at 10:56 am

Is it just me, or are many people totally overlooking this line?:

"Meanwhile, Schaller and his team scaled a neighboring mountain and successfully installed a similar explosion-observing, missile-monitoring apparatus."

The mission was a success, it just took a third try.


HiEv
Posted 30 August 2007 at 11:00 am

WCASD said: "A physician? Didn't you mean a physicist?

physician =/= physicist"


No, he meant physician. See the lines saying he worked at a hospital and:

"Dr. Schaller [...] went on to establish himself as a brilliant pediatric surgeon at a Children's hospital in Seattle."

I guess they wanted him around in case anyone was injured or unable to handle the climb.


sentinentpuddle
Posted 30 August 2007 at 11:04 am

damn DIY camera !


Radiatidon
Posted 30 August 2007 at 11:15 am

oldmancoyote said: "Excellent article! Once again the U.S. gov't has lost a nuclear device.I'm kind of surprised after all of his efforts to get his journals returned that the good doctor never met with an unfortunate accident.
How about an article on the thermo-nuclear weapon lost from a wounded B-47 off the East coast. Circa 1957 I believe."

It was in the early part of 1958. A B-47 bomber and an F-86 fighter were out playing war games when they collided severely damaging both.

Possible radio communications between the two aircraft pilots follows:

We’ll do a fly-by. Be prepared to break right. (Static)

Sounds good. Uh, would that be your right or my right?

Static then harried voice of first pilot.

What do you mean your right or my… Crap!

Static and sounds of impact, you know, metal scrunching, glass breaking, people cussing.

The F-86 crashed but the pilot bailed out safely. The B-47 was still air-worthy and while the crew tried three times to land at Hunter Air Force Base in Georgia, the damage was too severe to guarantee that the Mark 15, Mod 0, hydrogen bomb would survive a possible belly skid.

Though the nuclear trigger was not installed, the 7,600-pound, 12-foot-long bomb contained around 400 pounds of high explosives as well as uranium. This still made the bomb a possible environmental hazard should the explosives ignite spreading the uranium, as well as making a big ol' nasty crater that could prove disastrous to other aircraft needing to use the runway. Not as devastating as a thermonuclear explosion, but still deadly for the limited area polluted by the radioactive debris created should the non-nuclear explosives ignite.

It was decided that the crew should ditch the bomb off the coast of Savanna; hopefully that nice, cushy Atlantic mud would keep the bomb casing from breaking. If it did break, well the local pet stores could probably sell exotic, glow-in-the-dark fish to help fund the clean up.

They dropped it from an altitude of around 7,200 feet. The crew reported no explosion when the bomb hit the water.

Possible radio communication: Say, she kinda skipped nicely for a bit there.

Though the area was scoured in a 3-square-mile-area in Wassaw Sound for 9 months, the bomb was not recovered.

Then in 2000 the bomb was discovered. It was found buried nose first in 5 to 15 feet of mud. Due to the age of the bomb, its location, an estimated cost of almost $11 million, and the high possibility of danger not only to the recovery team but also to the environment, its been categorized as irretrievably lost and left in its watery grave.

Possible rumors are that there is a tourist Glass-Bottom-Boat in operation off the coast of Georgia. They bill the tour as the only place in the Atlantic with mutated, glowing, monsters of the deep.


Nicki the Heinous
Posted 30 August 2007 at 01:01 pm

Don, you know everything about everything. Why are you not writing here yet?


Jeffrey93
Posted 30 August 2007 at 04:32 pm

I'm not sure how complex this device was/is, what I know is that it was a camera that was built to take pictures for 1,000 years.

Before these climbers got cold feet and decided to toboggan down the mountain....shouldn't somebody have thought about turning it on?

However this device was intended to work...could have been working when it went missing. And if you have images of where a device moved after you left it, it isn't really missing.

Who picked these geniuses? If I was going to leave a top secret CAMERA somewhere...I'd want it taking pictures of where it moves or who showed up to steal it....worst case scenario you burn a bit of time off of it's 1,000 year clock. Big whoop.


supercalafragalistic
Posted 30 August 2007 at 07:12 pm

Nicki the Heinous said: "Don, you know everything about everything. Why are you not writing here yet?"

Yeah! Why not? Could make for some delightful DI reading.


Jeffrey93
Posted 31 August 2007 at 02:13 am

Radiatidon said: "As a side note why they used an “Atomic Battery”, so to speak.

An engine requires gas vapor to run. In cannot and will not run on liquid. The colder the temperature, the less likely the fuel will emit vapors. Instead it starts to gel. The fuel you purchase at the pump (for those in colder climes) in the winter is different than that in the summer.

Winter fuel has anti-gel agents.....

.....So the power source decided on was the only logical one, and by far the most cost efficient. It requires no support personnel on site 24/7. Has all the fuel it requires without outside resources, requires very little maintenance, and supplies all the power the devices needed."

Are you actually explaining why a combustible engine wasn't used to power a spy camera perched on a peak that is at an altitude of 25,000 feet? Shall we go ahead and discuss why a nuclear battery was used in lieu of...say....a 25,000 foot high coal fired generating station? What exactly would be the problem with running an extension cord up to the camera?

Thanks in advance for the explanations Radiatidon.


Radiatidon
Posted 31 August 2007 at 08:23 am

Jeffrey93 said: "Are you actually explaining why a combustible engine wasn't used to power a spy camera perched on a peak that is at an altitude of 25,000 feet? Shall we go ahead and discuss why a nuclear battery was used in lieu of…say….a 25,000 foot high coal fired generating station? What exactly would be the problem with running an extension cord up to the camera?

Thanks in advance for the explanations Radiatidon."

From your previous posts, you seem to bait for an argument. My text in these posts is usually written under an hour. For material that I get paid for, I will spend some time to polish and tighten the grammar. So forgive me if some of my posts use crutch words, improper grammar, misspellings, or slang. Since I usually post due to a request for information, or to enlighten, I try to post without insult, yet with the typed word it sometimes depends on the reader’s mood on how they may take the meaning.

I know that your post was sent as sarcastic, regardless, you asked for an explanation and I offer it as such. Information for those who are curious why:

Since most people are comfortably aware of petrol run devices, I included that because there are those who believe that a small generator could suffice. I have had people ask why in my adventures out on the frozen tundra that I did not use one of those small Honda generators that run for days on a gallon of gas.

Not many people have had the first hand experience of artic cold and needing a magnesium flare or phosphate to start a fire when neither your matches nor your lighter will ignite. Or having to spit before you venture beyond your dwelling to see if it is safe to go outside. If the spittle “snaps” then go back inside since it is cold enough to freeze the moisture not only on your eyes, but can damage your lungs.

Why not coal? The amount of BTUs you can derive from coal can be outweighed by its mass. Though a cheap source of energy, the expense to transport it to undeveloped and hard to reach areas, costs more than the benefits. Add to that the extra expense of transporting and setup of a coal fire plant. Once again the time and maintenance issue rears its ugly head. Plus the exhaust from the plant would raise a red flag to those whom the camera was recording.

Why not a super-long extension cord? Simple, the natural resistance in a medium decreases energy flow converting a portion into waste heat. Otherwise electricity traveling through a wire encounters the natural resistance of the metal. This in turn converts a portion of the power into waste heat. A long enough wire without a substation to boost the flow would have little or no power at the appliance end. For example, water is like electricity. At a source you have a 1” line, a ¾” line, a ¼” line, and a 1/8” line. 300’ down the 1” and ¾” have good pressure, but the ¼” and 1/8” lines don’t compare. At 600’ the 1” still has good pressure but now the ¾” is suffering. Plus if you use a large pump on too small of a feed line, your pump either burns out or the pipe bursts because of too much pressure. So to help maintain pressure over extremely long distances you have pump substations to help maintain it.

Have you ever had a plug “melt” on an extension cord? I know of several where the individuals overloaded the cord. So your extension cord would have to be a very large and very thick cable, made of gold, and super-cooled without the substations to boost the electricity. Then you have to take in account that the mountain has a variable landscape, one that moves thanks to glaciers, avalanches, water… so your cord would not only have to be super durable, but also somewhat flexible.

To those who enjoy my posts, I thank you. To those who don’t, instead of reading what I write, go have a piece of pie with a liberal scoop of ice cream. At least you should enjoy that rather than wasting time reading my posts.


tarteauxpommes
Posted 31 August 2007 at 05:13 pm

I very much enjoy your posts, but can I have pie too?


oldmancoyote
Posted 31 August 2007 at 06:15 pm

Don, great analogy.However , they should have used Tesla's idea and sent the electricity wirelessly. (Tesla's Tower of Power, Alan Bellows,July 10,2007) Coulda made the trip up a lot easier.


tednugentkicksass
Posted 31 August 2007 at 10:47 pm

Jeffrey93 said: "I'm not sure how complex this device was/is, what I know is that it was a camera that was built to take pictures for 1,000 years.

Before these climbers got cold feet and decided to toboggan down the mountain….shouldn't somebody have thought about turning it on?

However this device was intended to work…could have been working when it went missing. And if you have images of where a device moved after you left it, it isn't really missing.

Who picked these geniuses? If I was going to leave a top secret CAMERA somewhere…I'd want it taking pictures of where it moves or who showed up to steal it….worst case scenario you burn a bit of time off of it's 1,000 year clock. Big whoop."

How the hell would you see those pictures? They didn't exactly have the abilities (as far as wireless communications) to send those images remotely. This wasn't a digital camera. I think the CIA probably put a little more time into planning this adventure than you did into your snide comments.


Tink
Posted 01 September 2007 at 12:41 pm

Damned Interesting how one can guess the maturity, social skills, and personality of our regular commentors! Subject matter of the articles often seem's to bring out the oddest emotions in folks. The majority of readers seem to appreciate any & all educational information offered in here. Others seem to resent clarification as a personal offront to their own mis-conceptions. A debate on theory can be fun, challenging and even heated; and it needn't fall into petty disregard for the feelings of the contribitors. Lets applaud those who have the education, life experiance, willingness, and time, to share that with us. And treat folks with the same respect that one would expect to be afforded to their own comments.
DI! Alan Bellows, thank you for another cool look at mystery history!


Floj
Posted 01 September 2007 at 01:32 pm

Wow! One thousand years of pie making power packed into a portable generator! Well maybe less to run an oven, but that'll still cover a lifetime of pie baking!

I also learned that a .1 Kg piece of enriched uranium could run your car for 112 yrs of average driving! That'd be really fun to get inspected... "you have uhhh zero emissions so... I guess you pass... hmm" A marble sized piece would be able to power your car for more than it's life time! Now if it weren't for that darn radiation.


Aperio
Posted 01 September 2007 at 02:42 pm

I think that would qualify as an undesirable "emission". Try driving through the US border north or south and the folks there will likely agree, while probably giving you more attention than you might want.

It is likely not beyond the realm of possibility that nuclear or similarly powered vehicles can ultimately be manufactured, but the instant gratification of return on initial investment just isn't there for any corporation currently developing the concept. Particularly when weighed against the investment in the existing infrastructure. Something that large tends to protect itself from anything that might threaten it. This trait extends throughout industry. Untold numbers of good ideas have been quashed to maintain the status quo, or at the very least been usurped by the Machine and those in ultimate control. --("Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.") Progress is often made by accident, oversight, or indirectly. Most often when the same concept arises in multiple locations at the same time. It is harder to keep information from leaking out from a larger number of sources rather than just one or two.


supercalafragalistic
Posted 02 September 2007 at 04:32 pm

I like that Radiation guy's posts. A lot of you guys and gals who read this site are super smart and very thoughtful people. It is a true pleasure to be a fellow reader and to be in such great company. Ever since the collapse of Friendster I've been kind of lonely out here in web-land. You all are damn interesting, and I like your damn comments. :)


uncle frogy
Posted 02 September 2007 at 06:27 pm

very good article interesting indeed. Unless the Plutonium power cell was built rather stout I would expect it would have been damaged in the avalanche that got it lost along with the stone outcrop it was fastened to. The article said there were also transmitters and other gear in the whole package, then the camera would not be using film. What would the other instruments have been. I would bet that the transmitter would be line of sight radio so unless it was up high enough it would do no good to set it up anyway. Glad I was not up on a mountain like that with a blizzard coming and have to make that decision.
Good news is as global warming melts the glaciers the lost plutonium will show up sooner ;-)


Radiatidon
Posted 04 September 2007 at 08:12 am

tarteauxpommes said: "I very much enjoy your posts, but can I have pie too?"

Thank you all for your support. Since various fellow posters have requested pie, please accept this slice until Sir Allen and his fellow writers grace us with another thought provoking article. May you savor it as much as I.

It is interesting how many good folks here like to include the word “pie”. Now don’t get me wrong on this, hey I have done it also. You could say that it is an inside joke.

I became curious about when the first pie came about. No one really knows, but over 4,000 years ago the Egyptians made pie-type pastries. The first pie recipe was a Roman rye-crusted honey and goat cheese pie. I don’t know about you, but to me that is cheesecake gone wrong.

These were only pies in appearance (so to speak) since the crust was made with olive oil and little or no fats. Otherwise they did not have neither the weight nor the to die for flaky crusts.

Later in Europe, mainly England, pies were mostly meat and/or vegetable in content. Rather than a confectionary delight, the pie-curst (think cement) was used to seal in the juices for a moister repast. This also was a somewhat hermetically sealed container to help keep the fillings from spoiling as fast. The main ingredients were flour, eggs, and beef fat (called suet), the crust was hard (hockey puck comes to mind), tasteless, and generally tossed aside. You could call it crusty Tupperware, go figure.

In England these pies (From the 1301 Oxford English Dictionary – “Pye: a baked dish of fruit, meat, fish, or vegetables, covered with pastry (or a similar substance) and frequently also having a base and sides of pastry”) were usually baked with the entire bird (minus the feathers) and called a “coffyn” (sic). In a macabre fashion the animal’s legs protruded from the pastry and were used as handles to carry the meal.

Though it is not truly known where the word pie originated from, common belief is from the magpie, a bird that collects a variety of objects and may have been a choice ingredient. Rather than cow pie, as some rather ill individuals may suggest.

The first known pie recipe in a cookbook was published by Guillaume Tirel, a French chef from the 14th Century. This recipe for a marinated and sautéed eel was popular during Christian Lent when it is forbidden to consume meat.

Even in colonial America the piecrust was tossed rather than eaten. As cooks experimented the crust evolved into a pastry that included a large portion of “sweet” fat (such as lard, butter, or vegetable shortening) that degraded the status from hockey puck to eatable delight. Today we enjoy delectable flaky crusts with an almost infinite variety of savory and/or sweet fillings.

Now if you will excuse me, there is a Peach pie just screaming to be bathed in home-churned (wooden churn, of course) vanilla ice cream sprinkled with a dash of cinnamon. Who am I to deprive this sweet peach its simple pleasure. Not to mention how it will add to mine. ;)


Floj
Posted 04 September 2007 at 12:08 pm

Hoho! Somebody really likes their pie! I have done some research on the pie-tastic history of pie, but never anything so extensive! Wow! From bombs and spies to ovens and pies (haha that rhymes... oops). Everything you can find on Damn Interesting is just Damn Interesting!

Now I agree that using a long extension cord would be impractical for the mountains. Moving such a cable up the mountain would be impossible on the ground. However, couldn't you use a transformer to move a high voltage in order to reduce the loss of current? Plus the extreme cold would keep the wire from gaining resistance from heating. It's just fun to think about... like pie.

Here's another, If you can accelerate a particle close enough to the speed of light, it could theoretically be more massive than the earth! (I just learned that today and thought it was cool) However it takes a little too much power to accomplish that velocity.

P.S. The thought of enjoying a slice of pie with a good scoop of homemade ice cream literally brings a tear to my eye! *happy sniff*


sh0cktopus
Posted 04 September 2007 at 03:56 pm

Floj, you could have accomplished your "extensive" research on pies at:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pie

Wow, Radiatidon, that was really gratuitous. Keep up the good work on non-pie-related posts, though. Your real life experiences are much more interesting to read about than anything, I repeat ANYTHING, to do with pie.


Jeffrey93
Posted 04 September 2007 at 08:22 pm

tednugentkicksass said: "How the hell would you see those pictures? They didn't exactly have the abilities (as far as wireless communications) to send those images remotely. This wasn't a digital camera. I think the CIA probably put a little more time into planning this adventure than you did into your snide comments."

Are you telling me that each and every time they wanted to see the pictures this camera took....over it's 1,000 year life...they would have to ascend this 25,000 foot peak? I think the CIA did put more time into planning this adventure than that.

They had photo reconnaissance satellites...did they send astronauts up there every time they wanted to see the satellite images?

6 people attempted this ascent previously and only 3 had lived. Were they going to do this monthly to retrieve the photos? Maybe they could have used a small generator and just hiked Jerry cans up there every time they went to get the photos.

The team secured the antenna, two transceiver sets, and nuclear generator on a rocky outcropping, then hastily fled from the detestable weather.

Antenna? Transceiver sets? Sounds to me like it was a remote device that could transmit the images.

trans·ceiv·er (trān-sē'vər)
n. A transmitter and receiver housed together in a single unit and having some circuits in common, often for portable or mobile use.

Maybe YOU should put a little more planning into YOUR snide comments as this device was clearly designed to transmit images.
Thank you.


briarthorn
Posted 05 September 2007 at 06:10 am

No worries the rogue plutonium shouldn't be a problem the G2 boys have informed me everything will be just fine in a few 100 years. Mumbling something like "Please just avoid the area."


Radiatidon
Posted 05 September 2007 at 07:29 am

Floj said: "However, couldn't you use a transformer to move a high voltage in order to reduce the loss of current?"

Good thought Floj, but unfortunately it doesn’t work that way. You see voltage is created when electrical current flows through a resistance. Otherwise voltage is the potential or pressure across a resistance. Imagine if you will, water in a stream. As the current flows, the water will meet up with various resistances such as boulders. As the current flows against the rock, a build-up of water bulges against it. That is the pressure. That build-up is actually slowing the flow or current of water resulting in energy lost. The more resistance the water meets the less current there is until finally the water ceases to flow downstream (waterfalls and/or slopes would be considered pumps/amplifiers to keep the current constant, so our imaginary stream is on a constant gradual slope). The water upstream will be lost to evaporation or absorption into the environment. (Note: there are two rivers in Idaho that suffer this fate. The big and lost rivers actually do not empty into any major body of water. Depending on the time of year and the moisture content that fell the previous winter determines how long or short these rivers will be each year) The same applies in electricity.

Now a step-up transformer falls into the ”TANSTAAFL” category. The transformer may increase the voltage, but it is also decreasing the current. Like water that means less flowing down the channel. Also the alternating current of electricity in the transformer wire windings creates a changing magnetic field. This in turn creates eddy currents that actually heat the transformers core creating waste heat. That heat was electricity. So a transformer will also lose energy not only to the resistance of its wire windings but also to magnetic eddy currents.

By the way, TANSTAAFL is “There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch”.

Floj said:"Plus the extreme cold would keep the wire from gaining resistance from heating. "

Once again a good thought. Unfortunately for the temperature to help cool the wire, the insulating material covering the wire would need to be something that not only keeps the wire from shorting-out, but also allow virtually no heat retention. We would also need to keep the wire colder than the surrounding environment can produce. Temperatures colder than –200 Celsius (-328 F or 73 Kelvin) would be needed to begin to get our wire less resistive and conductive enough to pass a noticeable current at the end on the mountain.

Floj said:"P.S. The thought of enjoying a slice of pie with a good scoop of homemade ice cream literally brings a tear to my eye! *happy sniff*"

Glad to have made your day Floj, by the way, good to hear from you again. ;)


prototypepariah
Posted 06 September 2007 at 03:21 am

it's about time for a new article no? it's a slow death the waiting....


thisismyseriousside!
Posted 06 September 2007 at 09:24 am

Another DI story Mr Bellows. Geez Don! You know everything about everything. You need to come along on our next family camping trip. You'd be a great addition around the campfire!! Between you and my father, it would be an endless and exciting "put another log on the fire, cuz did I ever tell you about the time..." story fest. THAT would be a damn interesting and AWESOME way to spend a weekend. And, you could bring the shark dogs along too. hehe!


Nicki the Heinous
Posted 06 September 2007 at 02:31 pm

You know, It seems that our DI writers wait to see at least 75 comments before they release another DI article for us to devour . . .

So, cheers to our next wonderful article! We are drooling in delicious anticipation!


puakz
Posted 06 September 2007 at 07:57 pm

Hello all the way from Singapore=) Stumbled on DI since somewhere between the 10th and 15th post methinks, but never registered till about 2 minutes ago just to request for a new article! XD

Encore, encore!

P.S. with the balanced perspectives of all these beautiful minds gathered from across the world DI would do great as a kinda Global Congress eh?


Nicki the Heinous
Posted 07 September 2007 at 07:24 am

Nicki the Heinous said: "You know, It seems that our DI writers wait to see at least 75 comments before they release another DI article for us to devour . . .

So, cheers to our next wonderful article! We are drooling in delicious anticipation!"

I knew it! My theory worked! ahahahaha


Inti
Posted 12 September 2007 at 08:55 pm

Another hypothesis overlooked by you all is the possibility that the device was not lost, but stolen by the Indians. It is even possible that the U. S. government is aware of this, but hides the fact to the public. In any case, I am always bewildered by the stupidity of the military, doesn't matter to which country they belong, they are always the dumbest. It is a shame, however, that the most intelligent people agree to work for them in greed and false patriotism.


Rockadilly
Posted 13 September 2007 at 09:07 am

Inti said: "It is a shame, however, that the most intelligent people agree to work for them in greed and false patriotism."

Gee mate, now that naff is a small-minded view of very noble men and women. Many are involved not for the money, but in hopes of contributing to the well being of their families and friends. Personally I’m glad that there are those willing to protect me and mine.

I bet wherever you live, that if it was not for the police or military you would abso-bloody-lutely not be enjoying the good life-style you have. So rather than cry about that sad doings of a few, be proud of the good of the many.

Turn on the telly and the idiot box is full of innocents being slaughtered by fiends, thugs, cults, etc. For some reason though, people like to pounce dead-on things like the American’s Guatamo Bay. I don’t endorse the shameful doings by some mentally sick yanks, but at least they weren’t cutting the bloody heads off the prisoners with a dull knife while proclaiming that it was God’s will. Then both they and their countrymen celebrate it.

There are a few members of DI that did work for the military. Like Radiation Donnie, he sounds like a very intelligent and noble gent. Even if he is a yank, just kidding Donnie. Are you narked at Donnie thinking he performed his work out of greed and false patriotism?

He has posted some very interesting information. Some of which is just as Damn Interesting as the usual fare we read. I notice that he tries not to argue or insult anyone and seems quite versed in what he writes. Personally I think you do him and others like him a great disservice with your banana bender statement.

Anyway that is my nickel (because two-cents just does not make it anymore in this senseless world). Gotta go now, the misses is wondering if I’m A over T since its way past bedtime in my neck of the world.

G-nite.


Inti
Posted 13 September 2007 at 12:13 pm

I must insist in my argument by mentioning a simple and current event in history: The resources expended in the invasion of Iraq which equaled at the moment of writing this sentence to $451,233,600,999 U. S. dollars (www.costofwar.com). This enormous amount of money has been expended in the destruction of a country and society. This money, however, is not lost in thin air, but reaches the pockets of a few that benefit from the disaster. Think about how many positive things could have been done with such vast amount of resources, especially in the progress of science. Now, am I right if I describe the most powerful and resourceful military in the world as "dumb"? I bet I am.


memory
Posted 16 September 2007 at 11:44 pm

Richard said: "How about a little credit here? Don't we Americans want an intelligence agency with the creativity to think of something like this, the audacity to make the attempt, and the talent and courage to come so close to pulling it off?"

It would be better if they weren't so consistent in the "not pulling it off" department. It'd also be nice if their successes weren't so consistently monumental disasters for their country. See Legacy of Ashes by Tim Weiner. The real question is if after 60 years of utter failure we Americans want an intelligence agency at all.


iq_two
Posted 17 September 2007 at 03:45 pm

Inti said: "Another hypothesis overlooked by you all is the possibility that the device was not lost, but stolen by the Indians. It is even possible that the U. S. government is aware of this, but hides the fact to the public. In any case, I am always bewildered by the stupidity of the military, doesn't matter to which country they belong, they are always the dumbest. It is a shame, however, that the most intelligent people agree to work for them in greed and false patriotism."

Its not the people in the military that are stupid, it's the politicians in charge that are the idiots.

And if the device was actually stolen, which is a good point, it could also have been stolen by te Chinese. The Indians were working with the U.S. on that one, and the Chinese had a good motive to steal it, to keep from being spied on for the next thousand years...


flyingPurplePeopleEater
Posted 25 September 2007 at 05:19 pm

Holy crap I'm glad someone wrote about this! I heard this same story from an Indian man in Kausani over a dozen years ago and I wasn't sure whether or not it was modern folklore! His story was a little different though - according to him the mission was abandoned when a large, cylindrical piece of equipment was lost and "rolled down the side of the mountain!"


cenoxo
Posted 25 September 2007 at 07:51 pm

WRT to the Chinese cavalryman, it's DI that some Chinese units still drill on horseback. See the third photo down at:

People's Daily Online, August 26, 2006
China-Kazakhstan drill in Phase II
http://english.people.com.cn/200608/26/eng20060826_297038.html


Hoekstes
Posted 02 October 2007 at 07:25 am

It's been more than a month since the article and I'll be the first to comment on Dr. Schaller's pants. He wears them quite high up and they appear to be rather tight. Didn't quite make the Kingsley Holgate look. See he started on the beard though. And the boots are ok. But then he had to wear check. Personally I hate Radiation guy's guts too (yes I'm misspelling your name on purpose). Pompous twat. But then I might just be "baiting for an argument". Fat chance of that given that this thread is as old as it is. Maybe then when that nuclear battery pops up one day.


Radiatidon
Posted 03 October 2007 at 07:01 am

Hoekstes said: "Personally I hate Radiation guy's guts too (yes I'm misspelling your name on purpose). Pompous twat. But then I might just be "baiting for an argument". Fat chance of that given that this thread is as old as it is. Maybe then when that nuclear battery pops up one day."

Hoekstes, well I’m glad you’re a South African also. So tell me, is that shantytown by the airport highway still standing, quite an eyesore. Or did the N2 Gateway project clean it up yet? Of course I’m sure that the discontent felt by the Afrikaans squatting there being relocated resulted in some problems.

Though on the upside Canal Walk and Table Mountain were interesting, though I found Robben Island rather bland. For anyone visiting Africa, Cape Town is really worth a visit, even if it’s just so you can relax from your African excursions. Though I must say that the traffic problems really need to be addressed. On the way to Simon’s Town I witnessed not less than 8 auto accidents. Loved the white sandy beaches, and I did enjoy the penguins. I found it strange since prior to that I had seen their brothers in a much colder clime.

Anyway Hoekstes, I rather not care that you misspell my name (who doesn’t), nor that you hate my guts. If I come forth as rather pompous, then I must apologize, as that is not my intent. I have traveled quite extensively and seen many interesting things. Including the nasty nitty-gritty of the underbelly of many cultures, Cape Town’s included. Rather than posting negative thoughts, why don’t you take the wife, jump into your Corsa utility, and grab a droë wors with some mates while waiting for your perlemoens and kreef. Enjoy the beach as you sip a lekker castle.


Plank
Posted 04 October 2007 at 01:42 am

Hoekstes said: "Personally I hate Radiation guy's guts too (yes I'm misspelling your name on purpose). Pompous twat. "

Radiatidon, please ignore this imbecile. It's halfwits like him that give us South Africans a bad name. These are the exact people we don't want in this country. We have major problems here and most people would rather point out other people's problems than focus on sorting out our own.

And to answer your questions, unfortunately the shantytowns are getting bigger and I would rather not even talk about the N2 Gateway project. Another failed initiative due to corruption and incompetence.

Radiatidon keep posting, you provide insight and relevance to most topics and I for one enjoy them. As for Hoekstes, rather keep your negative and asinine comments to yourself.


Radiatidon
Posted 04 October 2007 at 01:25 pm

Plank said: "Radiatidon, please ignore this imbecile. It's halfwits like him that give us South Africans a bad name.

And to answer your questions, unfortunately the shantytowns are getting bigger and I would rather not even talk about the N2 Gateway project. Another failed initiative due to corruption and incompetence.

Radiatidon keep posting, you provide insight and relevance to most topics and I for one enjoy them. As for Hoekstes, rather keep your negative and asinine comments to yourself."

Thank you Plank, I don’t judge any culture by the happenstance of a few. I have met many very intriguing and interesting people from Africa. I tend to finally ignore those who rather insult than educate.

If I come across as insulting or demeaning, then I failed in what I am doing, thus I am ashamed and apologize. I consider myself more of a book full of odd and interesting facts, and like a book I wish to share with others what I have learned. I don’t consider myself superior to anyone, as everyone has things to say that are just as interesting. I do enjoy reading all the comments people post, except the religious and political attacks. I find those, a rather waste of otherwise excellent talents.

I’m sorry to hear about the shantytowns. I found Africa to be a wondrous and exciting experience. Not because of the animals, they are interesting, but because of the people who exhibit such a glorious diversity of culture and history.

I was also pleasantly surprised to learn South Africa produces its own quality wines. The vineyards were another sight I enjoyed. I found it interesting how close in appearance they were to vineyards in other countries. One must travel to truly appreciate the diversity, yet similarities of the multitude of cultures with their own unique, but rich histories.

You, as well as Hoekstes, have every right to be proud of your country and its rich histories.

;)

The Don


Anonymousx2
Posted 18 October 2007 at 04:03 am

Last.


kjdsahf
Posted 09 November 2007 at 05:37 am

Unfortunately, there are many factual errors in this rendition not the least of which: being able to "view" the Chinese test site from the top of Nanda Devi is the equivalent of watching vehicles in Los Angeles while standing on Mount Shasta. It was simply a measuring device/transceiver and likely would have yielded no usable information had it functioned. This was NOT the only covert Himalayan climb - there were several along the frontier (as a mountaineer, we've heard the stories and one by one, whistleblowing has led credulity). There are several other errors and with more and more factual errors (like the gut tickling "steel-spiked shoes") applied to this tale, the further out it gets online. The Plutonium battery was lost in a glacial avalanche. These occur on such a grand scale in the Himalaya that finding the power source (likely in a deep crevasse or even in the upper bergschrund) is less than needle-in-a-haystack odds. Problem is, with climate change, glaciers have begun disgorging their contents at an alarming rate.


kjdsahf
Posted 09 November 2007 at 05:50 am

An experiment this outlandish and extreme is doomed to fail. The odds of success on such wackiness were so long shot that it shows either a)The amount of extra funding the CIA had; b)The stupidity they had; c)The amount of risk they were willing to take (people did die/obtain serious injury in the Himalayan operations); d)The amount of desperation felt when they learned that planting spies inside China was not the same as planting them in the USSR; e)The hysteria of the time. Likely a combination of all. Even with today's mountaineering standards and electronic gadgetry, the odds would be strongly against you.


dacoobob
Posted 26 November 2007 at 11:47 pm

Hoekstes said: "It's been more than a month since the article and I'll be the first to comment on Dr. Schaller's pants. He wears them quite high up and they appear to be rather tight. Didn't quite make the Kingsley Holgate look. See he started on the beard though. And the boots are ok. But then he had to wear check. "
That photo reminds me of my father, who still dresses just like that. He's also thin, bearded, and outdoorsy, just like the good doctor. Maybe I'm related to this guy...


dead_jc20
Posted 25 December 2007 at 10:38 am

cool article..i wonder how that device is doing right now under all that ice..i remember reading an article about this mission once years ago,interesting stuff...


Watcher
Posted 01 March 2008 at 12:08 pm

Just pondering aloud...

India at that time was a socialist country with open ties to the Soviet Union. This was their counterbalance to the Chinese. As a geo-political counterbalance to this (Indo-Soviet) relationship, the United States tended to side with Pakistan. Witness how just a few years later, when there was a civil uprising in East Pakistan the US Navy entered the Bay of Bengal to discourage India from entering the fray or perhaps to be in place, ready to step in if the command was ever sent. Would you be doing this with a friend you just lent a nuclear power plant (that was light years ahead of anything they could possibly have come up with on their own) to? As it turns out the command was not sent, India did intervene and Bangladesh resulted. One supposes that the US's restraint might have been because she decided not to oppose the creation of Bangladesh rather than for any sudden new-found love of India. Tensions clearly ran high. Now, Macarthyism in the States may have been over but the Cold War certainly was not. There was all the clandestine stuff going on in Indochina, there was Cuba, a relatively new but rather pointed thorn in the side, there were all the defections and counter defections going on and the ensuing paranoia in Europe. This was after all the hey-day of the spy thriller novel! This is also roughly when India was pointedly going around promoting its idea of a group of Non-Aligned (ie with either super power) nations and roughly the time when Kissinger famously referred to (the Indian Prime Minister) Indira Gandhi as "that bitch!". Safe to assume they didn't see eye-to-eye on a lot of things. So was the need of the hour so pressing as to override the prevalent hostility and suspicion? Second question, then why didn't they just go ahead and do it themselves?. Nanda Devi is pretty damned remote and inhospitable and its not like the Indians had satellites to watch over what was happening there. I'm tempted to think that the CIA could just as easily have gone and put up their camera on their own without the Indians being any the wiser.

Any thoughts?


Ralphabet
Posted 15 March 2008 at 01:13 am

Wow. DI article. And here I was feeling eco-guilty for the 2 disposable cameras I bought in a drug store a few years back....


Anthropositor
Posted 28 March 2008 at 11:59 pm

Watcher, one of these days, if you can manage it, it would be nice if you could give me something intrinsic to disagree with. It is nice to debate with a coherent person sometimes. Sort of a novelty.

McCarthyism did not end with McCarthy. The whole cold war thing, the domino theory that got us bogged down in Indochina while the French were still wiping the egg off their faces, the notion that the enemy of our enemy is our friend is still the guiding principle in our foreign policy. It was a disaster in Vietnam. It is a disaster in the middle east. No successful outcome was likely in either case.

The failure in the most recent case is in the notion that we can somehow expertly orchestrate a happy ending in a conflict with so many different fanatical factions involved. We are not even able to reliably make democracy work in America. Yet, somehow we have the notion that these people, who are just as ready to kill each other, or themselves, as they are to kill us, are just going to magically take to the concept of democratic government and make it work because democracy good, dictatorship bad. Do the math.

McCarthy was a political simpleton. Here it is a half century later, and what did we re-elect? And it is quite amazing how reasonable and complacent we have felt about our prospects this past half century, in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. ...What with the Cuban Missile Crisis, Mutual Assured Destruction and a raft of other short-sighted tactical national decisions, where far-reaching strategic decisions were in order, that recognized that our place was not as a colossus astride the globe. It took a while for Britain to learn that lesson, but they did.


Watcher
Posted 05 April 2008 at 10:13 am

Anthropositor, from what I am able to glean from having read several of your comments around this site I consider your compliments high praise indeed. Thank you.

I will try to oblige you on something to disagree on, I have a feeling it would be an interesting debate! Not just yet though since I rather agree with your developments above (#96).


Anthropositor
Posted 08 April 2008 at 09:07 pm

No help for it. We may have to settle for more agreeable conversation, orchestrating ideas instead of clashing with them.

Have you any notions about water?


Freak
Posted 09 April 2008 at 04:04 am

DI....


polock3406
Posted 14 August 2008 at 02:18 pm

HaHa..... 100th!!!! D.I. Indeed!!!!


smokefoot
Posted 14 August 2008 at 03:17 pm

Radiatidon said: "Have you ever had a plug “melt” on an extension cord? I know of several where the individuals overloaded the cord. So your extension cord would have to be a very large and very thick cable, made of gold, and super-cooled without the substations to boost the electricity. Then you have to take in account that the mountain has a variable landscape, one that moves thanks to glaciers, avalanches, water… so your cord would not only have to be super durable, but also somewhat flexible."

I have to disagree about the difficulty of using an extension cord - because much more difficult cords are already done without gold or super-cooling. Trans-Atlantic cables are powered over thousands of miles from only the ends. Every few miles the fiber optics require a repeater, but the electric power that the repeaters use is sent from one side of the ocean and crosses to the other without sub-stations to boost the power. Thousands of volts are sent in at a constant current - a large percent is lost due to the long transmission cable, but the cable doesn't melt because the power lost per foot is tiny - it is only due to the many miles of cable that the total power loss is large.

Something similar would work for the spy camera - send 1000 volts in with the expectation that at least 100 volt would be available at the camera end. The weight would be a problem, as well as avalanches breaking it, but melting cables would not, or lack of sub-stations.


Anthropositor
Posted 16 August 2008 at 10:02 am

WARNING! ACHTUNG! WARNING!
The following is off the regurgitated topic!
But it's okay. It has plenty of regurgitation in it, and even includes a lumpy misspelled bad word.
(Email reply)
Hi Muggz,
Not good to use a work Email for personal use.
1. Not really private whatever the illusion.
2. Can be construed (any time an employer wishes to) as an improper use of employer property.

Feeling really blue right now. Not much fit to fight the good fight at the moment, so instead let me illustrate something related to the above.

In the evolution of cell phones, executives everywhere, (private institutions and corporations and even public institutions like colleges and universities), who have phones provided to them by their employers, have suddenly been descended upon by the rabid dogs of the IRS, who waited quietly without a bark or growl, just waiting and drooling, until the practice was virtually universal.

Now, thoroughly anonymous thugs within the bowels of this "service" have descended like the Sword of Damocles on everyone "guilty" of this practice, saying, if the individual cannot demonstrate that a call was business related on their business phone, paid for by their employer, that this call is personal, and that the value of the call is income and must be declared as such, and TAXED. A multi billion dollar windfall for the government. And entirely unassailable tax LAW.

We can't blame this on any of our carpetbagging, earmarking, trough snuffling swine in public office. This is internal administrative money generating "creativity." But do you think anyone in the IRS is going to check the phone records of IRS employees, going back ten years, as the IRS is allowed to do? I'll give odds that won't happen.

So now, billions of hours and billions of dollars will be squandered in a mountain of extra paperwork for everyone with a phone provided by an employer. Logging the nature of every call.

"Hi honey, how was Tommy's visit to the doctor?" Log it! It's taxable.

"Did you hear what those Mutherfuggers at the IRS just did?" Log it! It's taxable.

Now son, I want you to get a big logbook, and note the time and date of sending me this Email address. Make it the most expensive logbook you can find. And save the receipt. It is a logically a deductible expense.

And son, I want you to go immediately go to your employer and confess to having sent me your work Email address and compensate them for their losses, and let them know that, aside from this message, I will not be corresponsing with you via this route. You will feel so much better when you have gotten this off your chest.

But now let us confuse things a bit more. How are things going on the job? Okay now, did this response, have any effect on your sending me your work address? That was your entire message.

Love,
Dad

Oops, that's personal.


BlackFoxOne
Posted 23 August 2008 at 07:14 am

Isnt it funny how Dictator Bush and the Mighty US Regime think THEY should rule the world. get over it folks, the US is NOT the world Police Department it thinks it is. Idiots.

RD
http://www.Privacy-Center.net


marcool
Posted 06 September 2008 at 08:48 pm

I am late. Nevertheless I cant help I have to comment this:
@Radiation.
"Temperatures colder than –200 Celsius (-328 F or 73 Kelvin) would be needed to begin to get our wire less resistive and conductive enough to pass a noticeable current at the end on the mountain."

Blessed ignorance of electric companies who keep sending un-noticeable currents for a ridiculous distances like hundreds of miles, when it is proven you can't do that even for 25,000 feet or so.
Gossip says that they use transformers to change the voltage... poor idiots (..."Now a step-up transformer falls into the TANSTAAFL "...).

The only valid reasons not to use extension cord in that case was weight of the cable, and a problem of securing it's path so it wouldn't be exposed to snow, avalanches etc. It would require a lots of workers and equipment... quite noticeable activity as for low profile spy mission.

But there is one more possibility of what happened to the equipment left on the mountain: Yeti has taken care of it :-)


Radiatidon
Posted 08 September 2008 at 08:33 am

marcool said: "I am late. Nevertheless I cant help I have to comment this:
Blessed ignorance of electric companies who keep sending un-noticeable currents for a ridiculous distances like hundreds of miles, when it is proven you can't do that even for 25,000 feet or so.

Gossip says that they use transformers to change the voltage… poor idiots (…"Now a step-up transformer falls into the TANSTAAFL "…)."

Hum, seems you never seen a power substation either in a city, county, or desert area. These are used both to step down the voltage from a High Voltage lines for local distribution and to boost the power on the High Voltage lines due to power losses related to environment changes and distance from power generation plants. Also power systems today utilize a grid approach for power distribution. Power stations dot the landscape and are tied into a national grid. That way when power increases due to air conditioners being used in a hot region, extra power is drawn from another area where it is cooler. That is also why when a power station fails; it can cause a cascade effect taking other stations down with it. This will cause power loss over thousands of miles before the safety breakers disconnect the failing section of the national grid, otherwise the entire system could shut down. This has happened in the past in the US. Most of the East Coast and portions of the Southern States have gone without power at various times when the safety cutoffs failed. Back in the 1990’s, most of California, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and portions of Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, and Arizona went dark thanks to an ice storm that caused a cascade effect taking out power stations on the grid across the west. Thanks to a failure of safety cutoffs.

Due to the nature of High Voltage, environment is a major factor in design and operation. Usually Long distance transmission is at voltages at 115kV to 1,200 kV. Higher voltages create corona discharges into the surrounding environment causing power loss and possible cable and system damage. Not to mention a “check me out” type of flashing neon sign that can be seen for miles.

Also power flowing over an AC line is proportional to the sine of the phase angle between the power source and the receiving end. Thus the maximum distance is restricted both cable size and the maximum load in proportional to the square of the total system voltage. This can be offset by the use of phase-shifting transformers and series capacitors along the HV power line. You also need to realized that the power flow is still affected by temperature variances along the entire length of the cable which can cause failure (breakage) anywhere there is an abrupt temperature variance in the metal of the cable.

smokefoot said: "I have to disagree about the difficulty of using an extension cord - because much more difficult cords are already done without gold or super-cooling. Trans-Atlantic cables are powered over thousands of miles from only the ends."

Now comparing a phone wire to a power wire is like comparing a rowboat to a rocket ship. Though both are used to move something from point “A” to point “B”, each is specialized in function, operation, and power requirements. Since telephone communication is reliant on high frequency and not voltage, less power is required to transmit the signal. Also the higher frequency but lower voltage phone signal actually moves through a cable better than the lower frequency higher voltage AC. Thus the phone signal can move through a longer cable with less power loss than high voltage AC. A phone signal may move a speaker magnet, but it will never run your air conditioner.

The Don


ironcross
Posted 12 September 2008 at 06:59 am

What a huge cluster-fuck. Here we have the greatest minds at the time deciding to leave 4 pounds of plutonium unattended in one of the harshest environments available because they were too damn lazy to haul it down the mountain. And global warming is real because the scientists sez so!


tiedyeguy
Posted 25 September 2008 at 12:17 pm

Just wandered accross this site and I love it! Radiatidon, great comments and keep up the info, this is great!


Niladri
Posted 30 September 2008 at 06:14 am

nice dr........hey.......why.......plutonium to nanda devi......polluting the river....n that is d holy river ganges of our country....


pari0477
Posted 12 October 2008 at 04:23 pm

Inti said: "I must insist in my argument by mentioning a simple and current event in history: The resources expended in the invasion of Iraq which equaled at the moment of writing this sentence to $451,233,600,999 U. S. dollars (www.costofwar.com). This enormous amount of money has been expended in the destruction of a country and society. This money, however, is not lost in thin air, but reaches the pockets of a few that benefit from the disaster. Think about how many positive things could have been done with such vast amount of resources, especially in the progress of science. Now, am I right if I describe the most powerful and resourceful military in the world as "dumb"? I bet I am."

Sorry to say but You are wrong Sir.
Its because our soldiers are there that we are safe here. We didn't ask for 9/11 and those who indicate that, are just sick people who do not understand that every other country in the world wants to see America and Americans go down including our so called European allies. Having lived in EU for about 3 years I can assure you of that jealousy of those people. Having lived in third world countries for 25 years I can definitely assure you of the jealousy that prevails in those countries.
Yes that cost is there but also please do not forget that most of that on the website you indicated is hyped and blown up.
We at the bottom level of the country's hierarchy really don't know much of the actual reasons and please don't forget that disclosing all the right reasons also is hazardous in view of the country's security.
Certain things hidden are better than disclosed.


pari0477
Posted 12 October 2008 at 04:28 pm

memory said: "It would be better if they weren't so consistent in the "not pulling it off" department. It'd also be nice if their successes weren't so consistently monumental disasters for their country. See Legacy of Ashes by Tim Weiner. The real question is if after 60 years of utter failure we Americans want an intelligence agency at all."

I prefer an attempt and failure rather than no attempt for the fear of failure. Its a myth that we have to be perfect all the time if we are in the govt. They are also run by humans like you and me and prone to failure. But what is more important is they are putting in the efforts to keep us safe. Yes the money earned is there for them, but also the risk of life is there. They could have chosen to sit here like you and me and live in the false sense of safety, but they choose to face danger's at the face value to maintain our sense of safety.


singledad1234
Posted 17 October 2008 at 01:43 pm

singledad1234
Posted 17 October 2008 at 01:46 pm

look up the speech that got jfk killed on youtube for gods sake wake up people wake up

they are trying to take over the economies of the world they want the nafta superhighway

they want the amero dollar they want the north american union

LOOK UP RON PAUL on youtube

look up the new world order look up the illuminati wake up for gods sake wake up
http://www.infowars.com http://www.prisonplanet.com


Lake Effect
Posted 22 November 2008 at 10:55 am

^ Isn't Ru Paul that black transvestite entertainer?
Definitely not Chinese.


krisnadia
Posted 30 November 2008 at 08:21 am

very good work.. :-)


wayno@oz
Posted 08 March 2009 at 08:08 pm

Fantastic article Alan! DI indeed! Just a quick question, is it possible to dig up any stories on the australian spy service A.S.I.O (australian security & intelligence organization)? They have been around in some form or another for a long time now and have very close ties to the C.I.A (pine gap anyone?) Even an article on Pine Gap i.e. its intended purpose vs. its real purpose, who funds it, who controls it and what happens in the event of a (highly unlikey)falling out between A.S.I.O and the C.I.A.


Mirage_GSM
Posted 03 July 2009 at 07:09 am

Who picked these geniuses? If I was going to leave a top secret CAMERA somewhere…I'd want it taking pictures of where it moves or who showed up to steal it….worst case scenario you burn a bit of time off of it's 1,000 year clock. Big whoop.

Well it doesn't make any sense to switch it on when it is not in the place where it is supposed to take the pictures. This way it would only snap pictures of mountains.
And I doubt any pictures taken during the avalanche would have helped much in finding it…
In any case, I am always bewildered by the stupidity of the military, doesn't matter to which country they belong, they are always the dumbest.

If you had read the article carefully, you would have noticed that this was not a military operation at all.
An experiment this outlandish and extreme is doomed to fail. The odds of success on such wackiness were so long shot that it shows either…

Well it was successful in the end, so it can't have been that long a shot.


Marcovitch
Posted 25 August 2014 at 06:28 am

Inti said: "Another hypothesis overlooked by you all is the possibility that the device was not lost, but stolen by the Indians. It is even possible that the U. S. government is aware of this, but hides the fact to the public. In any case, I am always bewildered by the stupidity of the military, doesn't matter to which country they belong, they are always the dumbest. It is a shame, however, that the most intelligent people agree to work for them in greed and false patriotism."

It was on India's best interests to have the device in place. Please read the article.


END OF COMMENTS
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