Allen Institute hits 20 years on the open science frontier

Twenty years after Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen created the bioscience research center that bears his name, Seattle’s Allen Institute is still pushing out into new frontiers.

But this weekend, the nonprofit institute — and its hometown — are taking a little time to celebrate.

All this week, the Allen Institute has been highlighting Open Science Week, which touches upon one of the core values that Allen had in mind when he launched the institute with a $100 million donation on Sept. 16, 2003. And Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell is giving the festivities an extra boost by issuing a proclamation designating Sept. 16 as “Open Science Day” in the Emerald City.


Tech executive faces tough job as OceanGate’s new CEO

A veteran of Seattle’s startup and investment scene, Gordon Gardiner, has been given the task of leading Oceangate through the aftermath of June’s controversial loss of the Titan submersible and its crew during a dive to the Titanic shipwreck — and eventually to the closure of operations.

Gardiner has been appointed as CEO and director of the privately held Everett-based company, which suspended commercial and exploration operations after Titan’s implosion in the depths of the North Atlantic Ocean. OceanGate’s previous CEO and co-founder, Stockton Rush, was among the five crew members who died.

The new CEO’s primary task is to lead OceanGate through the ongoing investigations and closure of the company’s operations, OceanGate said in a statement. The company already has shut down its Facebook page and X / Twitter accounts, and its website has been reduced to a single black-and-white page announcing the suspension of operations.

Fiction Science Club

Today’s archaeologists make Indiana Jones look ancient

As the world’s best-known fictional archaeologist goes after what may be his last ancient mystery in “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny,” new generations of real-life archaeologists are ready to dig in with 21st-century technologies and sensibilities.

Harrison Ford, the 80-year-old actor who’s played Indiana Jones for 42 years, has said “Dial of Destiny” will be his last sequel in the series. And this one is a doozy: The dial-like gizmo that gives the movie its name is the Antikythera Mechanism, a real-life device that ancient Greeks used to predict eclipses and other astronomical events. The Lance of Longinus, the Tomb of Archimedes and the Ear of Dionysius figure in the plot as well.

Indy and his mysteries will be missed. Sara Gonzalez, a curator of archaeology at Seattle’s Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, says her favorite movie about her own field is “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” the 1981 film in which Indiana Jones (played by Harrison Ford) made his debut. But that’s not because it’s true to life.

Gonzalez said researchers from the University of Washington’s Department of Anthropology, where she’s an associate professor, recently took a field trip to a local cinema where “Raiders” was playing.

“They have something called HeckleVision, where you can text onto the screen and see it,” she said. “There was this great, fun discussion, happening virtually live, with a whole bunch of anthropologists sitting and watching a movie that we love to deride. But we still kind of love the story and the angle, and we also love educating people about what’s real and what’s fictional about archaeology.”

That’s the subject of the latest episode of the Fiction Science podcast, focusing on the intersection of science and fiction.


Coast Guard begins investigation of Titan sub tragedy

The U.S. Coast Guard says it plans to recover debris from OceanGate’s Titan submersible, which was lost along with its crew during a dive to the Titanic shipwreck, as part of its investigation into the catastrophe.

“At this time, the priority of the investigation is to recover items from the seafloor,” Capt. Jason Neubauer, who is leading the marine board of investigation, said today during a Boston news briefing.

Debris from the submersible lies about 12,500 feet beneath the surface of the North Atlantic Ocean, about 400 miles from the Newfoundland coast and only about 1,600 feet from the Titanic’s bow. The sub, built by Everett, Wash.-based OceanGate, was on its way to the world’s best-known shipwreck when it lost contact with its support ship a week ago.

An international search-and-rescue operation made use of remotely operated vehicles to find debris from the Titan sub on June 22. ROVs also will be used to recover wreckage from Titan. “I’m not going to give the details of what the recovery has been to date, but the resources are on site and capable of recovering the debris,” Neubauer told reporters.


What’s next in the tragic tale of OceanGate’s Titan sub?

It’s too soon to answer all the questions raised by this week’s loss of OceanGate’s Titan submersible and its five-person crew during their dive to the Titanic shipwreck — but the questions are being asked nevertheless.

An international team led by the U.S. Coast Guard is still surveying the site in the wake of June 22’s determination that the sub, built by Everett, Wash.-based OceanGate, was destroyed due to the catastrophic collapse of its pressure chamber. A remotely operated vehicle identified debris from the sub scattered just 1,600 feet from the Titanic’s iconic bow.

Some of the ships and planes that were involved in the search have left the scene, 400 miles off the coast of Newfoundland, but others are continuing to survey a stretch of seafloor 12,500 feet beneath the surface of the North Atlantic. It’s a hard-to-reach region that now serves as the graveyard for two at-sea disasters.

“We will do the best we can to fully map what’s down there,” Paul Hankins, the director of the U.S. Navy’s salvage operations, said during the news briefing announcing the Titan’s destruction.


Searchers say Titanic sub and its crew are lost

After days of searching, the U.S. Coast Guard announced that the OceanGate submersible that went missing during a dive to the wreck of the Titanic was lost, along with its crew of five.

Coast Guard Rear Adm. John Mauger said during a briefing in Boston that a remotely operated vehicle found the sub’s tail cone early today about 1,600 feet from the Titanic’s iconic bow. As the search continued, the ROV came across a second debris field that included pieces of the pressure chamber.

Mauger said the arrangement of the debris field, 400 miles off the shore of Newfoundland and 12,500 feet beneath the surface of the North Atlantic Ocean, was consistent with a “catastrophic implosion of the vessel.” Next of kin were quickly notified, he said, and a survey of the site will continue.

“It is a difficult day for all of us,” Mauger said.


Searchers hear noises — but haven’t located Titanic sub

Searchers are continuing to hear what they describe as “banging” noises as they monitor underwater sounds for signs of an OceanGate submersible that went missing during a dive to the wreck of the Titanic.

A growing fleet of remotely operated vehicles is focusing on areas of the North Atlantic Ocean where the sounds appear to be coming from, but so far, no signs of the sub have turned up, said U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Jamie Frederick, a spokesman for the international search team.

“We’re searching where the noises are, and that’s all we can do,” he said today at a news briefing.

The five-person Titan submersible, built by Everett, Wash.-based OceanGate, went out of contact about an hour and 45 minutes into what was expected to be an hours-long dive on Sunday. Five crew members, including OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush, were due to head down more than 12,500 feet to survey the world’s best-known shipwreck and the surrounding seafloor.


Find out what it’s like to steer a submersible

The Titan submersible that has gone missing near the wreck of the Titanic isn’t the only sub in OceanGate’s fleet: Back in 2019, the company took me down to the bottom of Puget Sound in a sub called Cyclops.

Almost four years later, it’s eerie to be keeping track of a far more dramatic dive that has put the Titan’s five crew members in mortal peril. One of those crew members is OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush, who was my guide for the three-hour tour of Possession Sound, a pocket of Puget Sound not far from the company’s HQ in Everett, Wash.

At the time, OceanGate was coping with some logistical complications that forced a postponement of its first planned series of Titan dives to the Titanic, more than 12,500 feet beneath the surface of the North Atlantic Ocean. The company was also gearing up for stress tests of Titan’s hull. (Those tests ended up identifying structural shortcomings that needed to be addressed.)

In the meantime, Rush and his team took on underwater projects that were closer to home and within the technical capabilities of Cyclops 1, the five-person submersible that was a precursor for Titan. (OceanGate also has an older sub called Antipodes, which looks a bit like the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine.)

OceanGate used Cyclops that summer to take researchers to the bottom of Puget Sound for marine biology surveys conducted in collaboration with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. GeekWire photographer Kevin Lisota and I were invited to ride along on a sunny day in August.


Search for OceanGate’s missing Titanic sub widens

The search for an OceanGate submersible that went out of contact during a dive to the wreck of the Titanic has widened to take in an area of the North Atlantic Ocean that’s the size of the state of Massachusetts.

Everett, Wash.-based OceanGate confirmed in an email that the company’s founder and CEO, Stockton Rush, is “aboard the submersible as a member of the crew.” Other members of the five-person crew are veteran Titanic explorer PH Nargeolet; Pakistani-born business executive Shahzada Dawood and his son, Suleman; and Hamish Harding, a British aviation executive and adventurer.

Rush served as the pilot of the Titan submersible for most of its dives over the past two years — but Bloomberg News cited reports claiming that Nargeolet was the pilot for the dive that began Sunday morning.

OceanGate Expeditions’ mission control ship, the Polar Prince, lost contact with the submersible about an hour and 45 minutes into Sunday’s dive. The last “ping” from Titan reportedly came from an area just above the Titanic wreck, but there’s a chance the sub drifted elsewhere in the depths.

The U.S. Coast Guard, which is leading the search, said in a tweet that 10,000 square miles of ocean — just a little less than Massachusetts’ surface area — had been surveyed as of this morning, roughly 24 hours since the search began.

Search teams are looking for signs of the sub with the aid of surface ships including the Polar Prince and the Deep Energy, plus Coast Guard C-130 planes and Canadian P-3 Aurora and P-8 Poseidon aircraft. The P-8 is equipped with an underwater sonar detection system, and sonar buoys are also being deployed in the area.

“To date, those search efforts have not yielded any results,” Coast Guard Capt. Jamie Frederick said today during a news briefing.

Frederick said remotely operated vehicles were being brought to the scene for underwater deployment as part of a “full-court press” to look for the submersible. If the sub is located, a U.S.-Canadian task force “will look at the next course of action,” including rescue attempts, he said. “This operation is our top priority right now,” Frederick said.


OceanGate loses contact with sub during Titanic dive

OceanGate’s Titan submersible has gone out of contact during one of its dives to the wreck of the Titanic, 12,500 feet beneath the surface of the North Atlantic Ocean.

The U.S. Coast Guard is leading the search-and-rescue operation.

The sub was built by Everett, Wash.-based OceanGate and operated by a sister company, OceanGate Expeditions. In an emailed statement, OceanGate Expeditions said it was “exploring and mobilizing all options to bring the crew back safely.”

“Our entire focus is on the crew members in the submersible and their families,” the company said. “We are deeply thankful for the extensive assistance we have received from several government agencies and deep-sea companies in our efforts to re-establish contact with the submersible.”

OceanGate Expeditions says a Titanic dive typically takes 10 hours, and the Titan sub has 96 hours’ worth of life support. In a series of tweets, the U.S. Coast Guard Northeast said contact was lost with the five-person crew about an hour and 45 minutes after the dive began on June 18.

The Coast Guard said C-130 airplanes and a Canadian P-8 Poseidon patrol aircraft with underwater detection capabilities were taking part in the search.