There’s no denying the amount of technology developed as a result of WWII. Engineering advancements in our military, construction, automotive, and airline industries were staggering. And, interestingly enough, we have managed to come full circle, bringing technology back to where WWII began for the United States- Pearl Harbor, in Oahu.
With the invention of computers and the internet, those who only dream of seeing Pearl Harbor can now do so via a pc or mobile device. Through Pearl Harbor at Home, this on-demand digital resource shares historical and educational experiences with visitors and the community from the comfort of their homes. Combat photos, videos, and children’s activities are available for the armchair tourist. A simple search for virtual videos of Pearl Harbor will also yield tours available from The Joy of Museums, and collaborations from everyday folks wanting to share their Pearl Harbor virtual tours with the public.
Technology has also made it possible to capture the past like never before. 3D and even 4D technology are assisting in understanding how the submerged USS Arizona and USS Utah are changing with time. Through photogrammetry, underwater acoustic mapping, and Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR), 3D models and printouts will hopefully help preserve these important historical remains. Several agencies and companies have contributed free of charge to preserve the cultural heritage surrounding the monuments.
For the past seven years, a team with the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), sought to identify the unknown remains of 361 servicemen aboard the USS Oklahoma. DPAA staff, in collaboration with the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory, (and assistance from family members who provided DNA) were able to identify over 90 percent of the individuals. Some were siblings and even a set of twins (dental records were ultimately the determining factor in that case).
Now, family members from the other destroyed battleships hope the advancements in the latest so-called SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms), would help the lab distinguish between individuals even when it’s only able to extract tiny fragments of DNA. SNPs are the same type of DNA sample used by services such as Ancestry.com and 23andMe.
These technological advancements are allowing us to see the past like never before and finally provide families with the answers and closure they seek.