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Author Topic: Gardner: Most compelling argument? Biggest missing piece?  (Read 86413 times)

Alan Williams

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Gardner: Most compelling argument? Biggest missing piece?
« on: June 21, 2010, 09:48:03 AM »


Just wondering what others see as the most compelling argument or reason or confirmed fact or single found object to cause you feel confident Gardner was the terminus of the flight? What most gives you the belief or gut feeling that the Electra came down out of the sky to Gardner where they lived for even a few days?

Also, just wondering what others see as the biggest obstacle to saying confidently the Electra landed at Gardner, to saying it was Gardner beyond a shadow of a doubt? What just hasn't yet been demonstrated? What's the biggest missing piece of the puzzle? What still nags at you about it?

(...and  who knows, maybe the uncertainty is one of the things we love about the mystery?...)

So to you, what's the one thing that just says, "Gardner had to be it"? ...and what's the one thing that just says, "If Gardner was it, wouldn't this have been demonstrated or found?"
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Gardner: Most compelling argument? Biggest missing piece?
« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2010, 10:44:40 AM »

Just wondering what others see as the most compelling argument or reason or confirmed fact or single found object to cause you feel confident Gardner was the terminus of the flight?

For me, that's like asking "which stone in the arch is really holding everything up?"  Or, perhaps better, "Which fiber in this rope is holding the weight of the anchor?"  But I'll play the game, sort of.  Here are big components of the Niku Hypothesis:


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What most gives you the belief or gut feeling that the Electra came down out of the sky to Gardner where they lived for even a few days?


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Also, just wondering what others see as the biggest obstacle to saying confidently the Electra landed at Gardner, to saying it was Gardner beyond a shadow of a doubt?

The failure to notice the wrecked aircraft:


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What just hasn't yet been demonstrated? What's the biggest missing piece of the puzzle? What still nags at you about it?

Possibly demonstrable: that the sextant box numbers are from the instrument maker and the Naval Observatory.  That is a question that might be answered by digging deeper into the N.O. archives.

Biggest missing piece: the engines and props.

Nagging questions:

There are other items on the "Join the search" page.
LTM,

           Marty
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Alan Williams

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Re: Gardner: Most compelling argument? Biggest missing piece?
« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2010, 01:47:32 PM »


Thanks for a couple of excellent responses, would love to hear more.

  ***

One of the most compelling things about this mystery is the twists and turns it takes as one discovers more. I've spent a couple dozen hours on the site and I'm half way through the book Finding Amelia and I'm impressed by the meticulous research. What an outstanding job.

As I'm reading or reflecting on what I've learned, I've sometimes thought I might have come up with a most "out of the box" question, only to find it has indeed already been asked. Thinking out loud, though, don't amateurs sometimes add valuable insights? For example, isn't it possible for the amateur who doesn't know much to sometimes ask the question that leads to a question and similar that leads a key answer?

Along that line, questions I've thought of (which have probably already been asked) include:

Could the aluminum discovered to have been used by islanders for jewelry making be analyzed to see if there might be a molecular/atomic signature similar to the aluminum being used by Lockheed in the 1930s? Same thing for the shoe heel and other objects. Could it be determined if the aluminum was heated for forming and if so approximately how long ago?

Could the sea water supposed to be down current from where the Electra engines are presumed be analyzed for decomposition particles consistent with Electra engines or Electra engine lubrication?

Could hundreds/thousands of soil/debris samples be taken randomly or on a grid pattern from the Seven Site be analyzed for traces of DNA consistent with AE? Are AE family DNA samples available in the laboratory now?

Could any cabinet or room or table or tools or clothes that might have possibly touched the original bones be located and be examined for trace samples of AE DNA or simply even one of AE ethnic origin? Would the discoverers of the bones possibly kept a souvenir that could be located?

Could any type of surface based detection system differentiate metal from rock and possibly be "tuned" to detect a subsurface object consistent with a 73 yro decomposing eight-hundred and some odd pound Electra engine?

Could the world's most sensitive search and rescue dogs be presented with some AE articles and allowed to roam the island for possible locations of bones/artifacts? (Granted, pretty far stretch 73 yrs later)

Where might there be more photos, civilian/military, of the island from the time closest to the lost flight to examine for clues?

Could artist's renderings of potential crash landing scenarios be constructed, some believed to be accurate and some clearly not, to be presented to survivors of island population for feedback?

On the next expedition can a large object consistent with the size and weight of the Electra be positioned where the Electra is imagined to have come to rest for the purpose of examining it later satellite/air photos and to study it's movement by tide/surge/storm activity?

At the lowest possible tide could air photos be taken of the reef where landing was presumed to later be forensically analyzed for marks consistent with blown-tire gear scraping groves in the reef or for metal deposits? (Roman ruins have been discovered revealed exclusively through air photo analysis, Oregon Trail wagon tracks are still visible in satellite images)

Is the depth/arrangement of objects found at Seven Site consistent with the presumed time frame? Can other types of studies be performed on the historical campfire such as ferric particle orientation or similar that would shed a clue as to the time of fires?

Was any type of organic matter, fruits/vegetables/leather/natural rubber, presumed carried on the flight that upon decomposing would have left a signature in the soil different enough from native materials that could be analyzed for?

What else?...
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Michael Robert Forbes

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Re: Gardner: Most compelling argument? Biggest missing piece?
« Reply #3 on: June 21, 2010, 04:35:53 PM »

Well sir ,

That is a very compelling list of questions!  The one regarding cadaver dogs caught my eye especially.  I have experience with cadaver dog owners and "they claim" that if the grave site is located in a moist environment, Cadaver dogs have been known to locate graves as old as 50 plus years. Now I would assume Niku would be considered a moist environment.  Great questions! 

Michael
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Alan Williams

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Re: Gardner: Most compelling argument? Biggest missing piece?
« Reply #4 on: June 21, 2010, 05:06:57 PM »


(I apologize for altering the spirit and intent of my original post and "getting off track". I now realize I should have started a different thread in the proper discussion area. Is it possible to move this to start a new thread? I remain very genuinely interested in the original questions)

  ***

After posting that list of questions, the one that I've fiddled with the most has been this one:

"At the lowest possible tide could air photos be taken of the reef where landing was presumed to later be forensically analyzed for marks consistent with blown-tire gear scraping groves in the reef or for metal deposits? (Roman ruins have been discovered revealed exclusively through air photo analysis, Oregon Trail wagon tracks are still visible in satellite images)"

Hm, I like this question ...so, to restate, how about at a predicted several year low-tide event, that is tide so low the entire reef is cleanly exposed, a series of aerial images were taken to be analyzed for indications of blown-tire gear altering the surface of the reef. And, consider, coral or other material may have long since filled-in any deformations, but wouldn't the new growth have a potentially different signature and appear differently under different types of analysis? Who knows, maybe the new material that filled-in was higher in some particular mineral due to ocean water conditions changing over time that could be detected under some type of spectral analysis. Again, Roman ruins that had remained undetected while people worked and lived directly on top of for two thousand years are just as plain as day when viewed in aerial images.
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Gardner: Most compelling argument? Biggest missing piece?
« Reply #5 on: June 30, 2010, 12:48:43 PM »

One of the most compelling things about this mystery is the twists and turns it takes as one discovers more. I've spent a couple dozen hours on the site and I'm half way through the book Finding Amelia and I'm impressed by the meticulous research. What an outstanding job.
Agree. Ric did an outstanding job on the book.  It should probably be required reading for all posters in the Forum.   :D

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As I'm reading or reflecting on what I've learned, I've sometimes thought I might have come up with a most "out of the box" question, only to find it has indeed already been asked. Thinking out loud, though, don't amateurs sometimes add valuable insights? For example, isn't it possible for the amateur who doesn't know much to sometimes ask the question that leads to a question and similar that leads a key answer?

I don't know what the statistics are on that.  TIGHAR is a mixture of amateurs (I'm in that class) and professionals (e.g., Tom King, Ph.D.).  TIGHAR started working on the AE case in 1988.  A lot of amateurs have asked a lot of questions, for good or for ill.

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Could the aluminum discovered to have been used by islanders for jewelry making be analyzed to see if there might be a molecular/atomic signature similar to the aluminum being used by Lockheed in the 1930s? Same thing for the shoe heel and other objects. Could it be determined if the aluminum was heated for forming and if so approximately how long ago?

See "History Detectives Report: A Piece of the Grail?"  My Wildly Amateur Guess is "no," but other EPAC members are optimistic.

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Could the sea water supposed to be down current from where the Electra engines are presumed be analyzed for decomposition particles consistent with Electra engines or Electra engine lubrication?

No.  Apart from the massive quantities of water that have flowed over and around the seamount, any signal from the engines would be swamped by noise from the wreck of the wreck of the Norwich City.

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Could hundreds/thousands of soil/debris samples be taken randomly or on a grid pattern from the Seven Site be analyzed for traces of DNA consistent with AE?

"If you've got the money, honey, TIGHAR's got the time."  I don't think you understand how expensive it is to get a team to the Seven Site to collect samples nor how expensive DNA testing is.   

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Are AE family DNA samples available in the laboratory now?

Yes.

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Could any cabinet or room or table or tools or clothes that might have possibly touched the original bones be located and be examined for trace samples of AE DNA or simply even one of AE ethnic origin?

No.  The original furniture and rooms are long gone.  The WPHC pulled out of Suva in 1952.  The Fiji School of Medicine is in new buildings.

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Would the discoverers of the bones possibly kept a souvenir that could be located?

Possibly.  Roger Kelley and I were the second TIGHAR team sent to Suva to look for the bones and the sextant box.  We couldn't find any leads to them.

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Could any type of surface based detection system differentiate metal from rock and possibly be "tuned" to detect a subsurface object consistent with a 73 yro decomposing eight-hundred and some odd pound Electra engine?

No.

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Could the world's most sensitive search and rescue dogs be presented with some AE articles and allowed to roam the island for possible locations of bones/artifacts? (Granted, pretty far stretch 73 yrs later)

"If you've got the money ..."  But I don't think you understand the size of the island or how long such a search would take.  I also doubt that any museum with AE's clothing would allow it to travel to Niku for such a search.  However, money talks.   

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Where might there be more photos, civilian/military, of the island from the time closest to the lost flight to examine for clues?

Anywhere in the world.

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Could artist's renderings of potential crash landing scenarios be constructed, some believed to be accurate and some clearly not, to be presented to survivors of island population for feedback?

This would have been done if the Solomon Islands were safe enough.  A TIGHAR researcher did visit Nikumaroro Village before TIGHAR knew about the bones file.

Of course, the survivors are probably very few by now.  The PISS colony folded in 1963.

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On the next expedition can a large object consistent with the size and weight of the Electra be positioned where the Electra is imagined to have come to rest for the purpose of examining it later satellite/air photos and to study its movement by tide/surge/storm activity?

All it would take is time and money.  Of course, if you take an Electra to the island and allow it to be destroyed by surf action, you're liable to contaminate the search area for the pieces of the real Electra.  And tick off the folks who created and manage the Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA).  But sufficient funds wisely applied might overcome even those obstacles.

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At the lowest possible tide could air photos be taken of the reef where landing was presumed to later be forensically analyzed for marks consistent with blown-tire gear scraping groves in the reef or for metal deposits? (Roman ruins have been discovered revealed exclusively through air photo analysis, Oregon Trail wagon tracks are still visible in satellite images)

Yes and no.  Yes, you may fund the aerial photography, if you wish.  You'll need quite a good aircraft, but it could be done; someone once bought a Consolidated PBY Catalina, hoping to use it to search Niku--it may still be available.  No, skid marks and scratches from a rough landing would not be visible, given the nature of the reef.  The ruins and wagon tracks provided a strong signal-to-noise ratio for photographic analysis.  One skid track wouldn't survive on the reef. 

But it's your money.  You get to invest it the way you see fit.

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Is the depth/arrangement of objects found at Seven Site consistent with the presumed time frame? Can other types of studies be performed on the historical campfire such as ferric particle orientation or similar that would shed a clue as to the time of fires?

If those questions can be answered, the professionals on the team will answer them.  So far, the kind of analysis available to TIGHAR has not answered those questions.  Nine new fire features were explored on Niku VI.  Time will tell what the material collected from them can reveal about their age.

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Was any type of organic matter, fruits/vegetables/leather/natural rubber, presumed carried on the flight that upon decomposing would have left a signature in the soil different enough from native materials that could be analyzed for?

No.  That type of organic matter could have come from any of the first-world folks who worked on the island.
LTM,

           Marty
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Alan Williams

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Re: Gardner: Most compelling argument? Biggest missing piece?
« Reply #6 on: June 30, 2010, 06:00:41 PM »

Marty, Thanks for the thorough and thoughtful response; insightful as usual, much appreciated. Yep, Ric's book should be required reading; we're leaving for a week of camping this weekend, I'm packing it now - will very probably read it again...
« Last Edit: June 30, 2010, 08:15:07 PM by Alan Williams »
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Thom Boughton

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Re: Gardner: Most compelling argument? Biggest missing piece?
« Reply #7 on: July 01, 2010, 01:16:42 AM »

Hmmm......it is all probably a bit different for me than for most.  For I am somewhat still a fence-sitter...although I now lean more toward the Niku side of the equation by nearly each passing day.  Which doesn't seem like much except for....at the start, and based solely upon what little bits of information that have been carried by the various news services since Tighar began into it all, I was an absolute and adamant non-believer.

Although I am an ex-professional pilot (when the industry took a powder in the early '80's, I gave it up and spent the following 25+ years with the FAA as a Controller) I never really looked at all below the surface of the matter until just recently.  And on the surface of it all, I just didn't buy the Niku theory in any form.

So...what has caused me to change my mind?

I have several thousand hours flight time, many of which are in BE18's (not quite an L10 by any stretch, but very vaguely similar) and I have also had a certain amount of training in celestial navigation and some experience flying in unpopulated regions (although in my case it was Canada and Alaska instead of any tropical venues.) 

After looking deeper into the matter, and actually seeing some of the area charts of that vintage and certain other navigational details pertinent to that particular day and time, it dawned upon me that....based upon those details I have seen, if I had been making that flight I probably would have wound up on Niku myself.  (This of course assumes fuel enough to get there.)  It just makes too much sense.

Add to this the overall history of the island, the skeletal findings and the associated sextant box, the timing and nature of the post-loss radio transmissions, and some (not all) of the smaller items that have been found in the neighbourhood since.  In view of all of this...I drank the Kool-Aid.

While I still will not say that it absolutely positively has to be there, my opinion is that this is by far the best of the available theories to date and has much more to support it than any of the others....including lost-at-sea (which in itself is a null-feedback excuse anyway.)

Still....if it turns up on the ocean floor near Howland, I won't be too terribly surprised.  But, were I a betting person...my money these days would go to Niku, hands down.




....tb
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Scott Erwin

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Re: Gardner: Most compelling argument? Biggest missing piece?
« Reply #8 on: July 01, 2010, 09:00:19 AM »

I, too have wondered about the possibility of analysis of the metal that was found.  I know, for example, that gold and other precious metals can be identified even down to the mine from which it came in some instances.

I do NOT know however if the same would apply to aluminum. 

Is it possible to compare the makeup of the discovered aluminum to another Lockheed that was under construction at a same/similar time for similar atomic signature?  Does such a Lockheed exist?  Would the materials have possibly come from the same "batch" so as to be relevant?
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Alan Williams

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Re: Gardner: Most compelling argument? Biggest missing piece?
« Reply #9 on: July 01, 2010, 01:36:02 PM »

Somewhere out there in the category of potentially "most compelling" I keep coming back to an obscure little item from Ric's outstanding book.

Of course, the debate surrounding whether 15 yro Betty sitting in her St. Petersburg home in 1937 actually heard AE and the potential that "Betty's Notebook" reflects what AE was saying could be endless. The item that has been nagging at me is that apparently whoever Betty heard reporting to be AE kept saying over and over and over, "NYC, NYC, NYC, NYC, NYC..."

So, as Ric points out, what if Betty was hearing AE and what if AE was actually saying, "Norwich City, Norwich City, Norwich City..."?

If I were AE and on a deserted island and FN was disabled and I didn't really know where I was but I knew there was one big honking pile of man-made remains called the Norwich City I believe I would be squawking the name of the thing endlessly. Now, would anyone hearing me make the connection? Would the typical inhabitant of the South Pacific really know where the SS NC was? Who knows? However, I'd bet that if I were in AE's shoes I'd be convinced that if I could successfully communicate two single pieces of information that would guaranteed rescue it would be 1) My name & 2) The name of the shipwreck where I am.

Well, I don't know, but that odd little item keeps coming back as strange enough and out of the blue enough to just possibly be a meaningful piece of the puzzle.
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Gardner: Most compelling argument? Biggest missing piece?
« Reply #10 on: July 01, 2010, 01:55:33 PM »

I, too have wondered about the possibility of analysis of the metal that was found.  I know, for example, that gold and other precious metals can be identified even down to the mine from which it came in some instances.

I do NOT know however if the same would apply to aluminum. 

Me, neither.

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Is it possible to compare the makeup of the discovered aluminum to another Lockheed that was under construction at a same/similar time for similar atomic signature?  Does such a Lockheed exist?  Would the materials have possibly come from the same "batch" so as to be relevant?

My Wildly Amateur Guess is essentially "no."  You would have to make all kinds of assumptions about how the factory used its stores of materials, even if the technology exists to fingerprint batches.  The "History Detectives Report" suggests that there is a piece from the wreckage of the Electra at Luke Field, but I personally doubt that it would be from the same batch of aluminum as other parts of the same aircraft, let alone from another airframe built at or near the same time.  Lockheed didn't just dip into an aluminum bin and pull out structural members, sheeting, cowl parts, etc., all derived from the same batch of raw materials. 

Such testing might be able to rule out samples ("We can tell that this alloy couldn't have come from a 1936 airframe") but I doubt very much that it could provide a fingerprint for NR16020 ("We know this piece of aluminum came from AE's airplane.").

I'd be happy to eat the recycled electrons that communicate this opinion if I'm proven wrong.
LTM,

           Marty
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Kevin Weeks

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Re: Gardner: Most compelling argument? Biggest missing piece?
« Reply #11 on: July 01, 2010, 02:16:09 PM »

I, too have wondered about the possibility of analysis of the metal that was found.  I know, for example, that gold and other precious metals can be identified even down to the mine from which it came in some instances.

I do NOT know however if the same would apply to aluminum. 

Me, neither.

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Is it possible to compare the makeup of the discovered aluminum to another Lockheed that was under construction at a same/similar time for similar atomic signature?  Does such a Lockheed exist?  Would the materials have possibly come from the same "batch" so as to be relevant?

My Wildly Amateur Guess is essentially "no."  You would have to make all kinds of assumptions about how the factory used its stores of materials, even if the technology exists to fingerprint batches.  The "History Detectives Report" suggests that there is a piece from the wreckage of the Electra at Luke Field, but I personally doubt that it would be from the same batch of aluminum as other parts of the same aircraft, let alone from another airframe built at or near the same time.  Lockheed didn't just dip into an aluminum bin and pull out structural members, sheeting, cowl parts, etc., all derived from the same batch of raw materials. 

Such testing might be able to rule out samples ("We can tell that this alloy couldn't have come from a 1936 airframe") but I doubt very much that it could provide a fingerprint for NR16020 ("We know this piece of aluminum came from AE's airplane.").

I'd be happy to eat the recycled electrons that communicate this opinion if I'm proven wrong.

that is my understanding as well. From my vague memory of metalurgy at that time, aluminum was still just being brought into it's own as far as a good strong alloy. It was referred to as duralumin I believe. it was the precurser to the "aircraft aluminim" we know today as 6061. i'm sure there is enough difference in the alloy to be able to tell a 1936 piece from a WWII piece.
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Mark Petersen

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Re: Gardner: Most compelling argument? Biggest missing piece?
« Reply #12 on: July 07, 2010, 03:47:26 PM »

Along the same lines, what is the most compelling evidence that the 7-site is the site of the castaway remains as mentioned by Gallagher?

What is the single biggest evidence or gut feel that points to the 7-site?

What is the compelling evidence that would suggest a site other than the 7-site for the castaway remains?

What unanswered questions remain about the 7-site (other than DNA evidence)?   
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Gardner: Most compelling argument? Biggest missing piece?
« Reply #13 on: July 07, 2010, 05:33:13 PM »

Along the same lines, what is the most compelling evidence that the 7-site is the site of the castaway remains as mentioned by Gallagher?

What is the single biggest evidence or gut feel that points to the 7-site?

Tom King made a nice list of reasons for thinking TIGHAR has found the castaway's last camp.  That was before Niku VI, so the list may be longer now.

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What is the compelling evidence that would suggest a site other than the 7-site for the castaway remains

TIGHAR's inability to find teeth and bones that almost certainly were missed by Gallagher's search.

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What unanswered questions remain about the 7-site (other than DNA evidence)?   

What happened to the contents of the sextant box?
LTM,

           Marty
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Mark Petersen

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Re: Gardner: Most compelling argument? Biggest missing piece?
« Reply #14 on: July 08, 2010, 12:56:25 PM »

Along the same lines, what is the most compelling evidence that the 7-site is the site of the castaway remains as mentioned by Gallagher?

What is the single biggest evidence or gut feel that points to the 7-site?

Tom King made a nice list of reasons for thinking TIGHAR has found the castaway's last camp.  That was before Niku VI, so the list may be longer now.

Thanks for the link Marty. That's a very nice writeup that will give me more to read :)

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What is the compelling evidence that would suggest a site other than the 7-site for the castaway remains

TIGHAR's inability to find teeth and bones that almost certainly were missed by Gallagher's search.

Are there any plans to extensively map and raid crab burrows?

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