Across the frozen white wasteland

Exciting stuff happening at the North Pole this week:
Russian scientists hope to dive in two mini-submarines beneath the pole to a depth of more than 13,200 feet, and drop a metal capsule containing the Russian flag on the sea bed.
The symbolic gesture, along with geologic data being gathered by expedition scientists, is intended to prop up Moscow's claims to more than 460,000 square miles of the Arctic shelf -- which by some estimates may ontain 10 billion tons of oil and gas deposits. |CNN|

Let somebody else deal with the geopolitics. I'm fascinated by the idea that dropping a flag on the sea floor has something to do with the legitimacy of a territorial claim. Is the practice really that well entrenched in the international order? And does this mean that the USA owns the moon?

Also, I'm pretty darn sure that Admiral Peary planted an American flag on the pole back in ought nine. Does it really make for a stronger claim to plant a flag on the sea bed underneath the ice shelf? It's hard to figure which entrenched practice would make it so.

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