The Titanic

The Titanic

I just watched a fascinating and insightful documentary on the Smithsonian Channel about what may have been the main culprit in the sinking of the Titantic in 1912.

According to British historian Tim Maltin, the series of errors made that fateful night may have been caused by a mirage. It seems the Titanic floated into a beautiful perfect trap created by Mother Nature who may have had the last word on the exaggerated notion that the world’s largest luxury liner was “unsinkable.” That popular description, by the way, – as history shows – was not promoted by the builder, White Star Lines. They used qualifiers like “practically” and “nearly” unsinkable. The public dropped the qualifiers.

An excerpt from the Smithsonian website says:

“An unusual optical phenomenon explains why the Titanic struck an iceberg and received no assistance from a nearby ship, according to new research by British historian Tim Maltin. Atmospheric conditions in the area that night were ripe for super refraction, Maltin found. This extraordinary bending of light causes miraging, which, he discovered, was recorded by several ships in the area. He says it also prevented the Titanic’s lookouts from seeing the iceberg in time and the freighter Californian from identifying the ocean liner and communicating with it.”

Many eyewitnesses including the S.S. Californian Captain Stanley Lord reported there were so many stars you couldn’t tell where the sea ended and the sky began. In both the British and United States inquiries, Lord – whose ship was not far from the doomed Titanic – was blamed for not heeding Titanic’s distress signals. No charges were brought, but Lord was discharged from his company. He died in 1962 at age 84 still trying to clear his name. Maltin’s research seems to support Lord’s claim that he did not see the enormous Titanic, but rather a smaller vessel due to miraging. Maltin says the Morse light from the Titanic could have easily been confused with all the flickering star lighting.

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