Science: Fallible Radar

Under certain rare conditions, magic-eyed radar goes blind. This sad fact was brought out last week at a Halifax inquiry into the collision of Canada's destroyer Micmac with the freighter Yarmouth County (TIME, July 28). The Micmac's radar scopes, said her crewmen, did not show the freighter, hidden in a fog bank dead ahead.

Canadian radar expert Lieut. Commander Harold D. McCormick explained the radar failure as a case of "substandard propagation." This means, he said, that when the air becomes warmer and dryer as altitude increases (an unusual condition), "it is possible for the waves from the radar transmitter to skip...

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