This is perhaps my favorite image of the Arizona Memorial - a simple black and white photo taken in the rain by Brett Seymour - an incredible photographer associated with the National Park Service Submerged Resources Center (please don't snag this image - you need permission and I don't want to get those guys mad at me!).
If you didn't see it, take a look at this article in the Washington Post about research currently being conducted by NIST scientists to model the ships deterioration - in order to estimate if/when/how the ~500 gallons worth of heavy fuel oil will eventually leak from the ship - slowly (like it's doing now), increasing in volume over time, or catastrophically. From the article:
To assess that process on the Arizona, he and guest institute scientist Li Ma have built a finite element model. They took the ship's blueprints, carved out an 80-foot section from the middle and entered its dimensions into a computer. They then used special software to break the section into about 200,000 data blocks, or elements, and entered what they knew about the properties of the metal, corrosion and damage.
Scientists also entered into the model what they knew about external forces on the vessel: such things as pressure from the water, bottom, gravity and waves.
The result is like a single frame from a movie, Foecke said, and it then becomes possible to play the movie, by adjusting the data, and see how it might turn out.
This is a pretty interesting project, and I was fortunate enough a few years ago to hear someone from NIST speak about the model - it could really provide valuable insight into deterioration processes affecting the ship (a ship that my laboratory is rather attached to). I've got two manuscript drafts sitting on my desk - drafts that I desperately need to finish up that characterize the oil that is leaking from the ship, and microbial processes influencing the oil - and I've promised myself to get to these first thing in the new year. These manuscripts might even get us a cover photo in the journal (even one where the oil isn't airbrushed out of the image!) - that would certainly be fun. If you want to read more about efforts by the National Park Service to study this ship and preserve it - take a look at the USS Arizona Preservation Project 2004 website. While I recogize the ship's importance to the history of this country - I'm also pleased as a scientist to see it being used as a model for the study of numerous fascinating ships that are sitting in our waters undergoing decay (with possible environmental consequences). It's a fascinating study site - for so many reasons.