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Titanic Sank Over A Century Ago, But The Story Lives On - 5 Possible Reasons Why Is It So Interesting Even Today!

Posted October 13, 2013 12:00 AM by CR4 Guest Author

On April 10, 1912, Titanic, the virtually unsinkable ship, embarked on its maiden voyage to never return again. It hit an iceberg deep in the night of 14th April and sank on 15th April, and around 1500 passengers perished. This maritime disaster has caught the imagination of people world over. So much so, that there have been numerous researches, movies, documentaries and television series dedicated to it. There have been other disasters in the past, but none have fascinated so many even after 100 years. Trying to decrypt the enigma behind this fascination or fuelling it further, we look at 5 interesting facts and probable reasons why the tragic story refuses to die down. (image source)

The debris speaks

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The skeleton of a ship twisted like a beer can thousands of miles beneath the ocean surface still speaks of the stories. Human imagination knows no bounds and when it is coupled with the mystique of history that has been passed on from generations of hearsay, it goes into a drive. The wreckage of the ship discovered 1985 almost 73 years after the fateful night. The fascinating thing is that even after these many years, the wreckage narrates the story of the events of the night. Apart from the wreckage, there have been numerous accounts of survivor stories. These have provided titbits to the imaginative to fit the pieces together and complete the puzzle.

First of its kind

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R.M.S. Titanic was a Royal Mail Ship and it was on official duty to deliver mail to the U.S.A. This RMS was quite different from the regular ones though. It was way ahead of its time and was designed to be a specimen of ultimate luxury imaginable then. It was one of the first ships to have telephone systems and electric lights in the rooms It had four elevators, a gymnasium and even a heated swimming pool. It had everything on board, so much so that it even had its own on-board newspaper. The newspaper printed news, advertisements, society gossip and the day's menu.

Spelling luxury

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Apart from the facilities the ship offered, it was designed to spell luxury. The grand staircase replicated numerous times would have given you a slight idea of how the ship interior must have looked like. The interiors of the ship were lavish to say the least. The woodwork consisted of hand carved woodwork, teak and maple wood. The bathrooms had all the modern fittings that could be imagined in 1912. It was fitted with double sinks, bath tubs and showers. It was designed keeping the elite in mind and it made sure to keep them happy.

Sea conditions

image source

One thing that is becoming evidently clear is that one of the reasons why the ship sank was that the sea conditions were too good for it. On 14th April, 1912, the sea was dead calm and there was no breeze and hence no waves. These conditions are hard to find in North Atlantic especially in the month of April and yet on that day these perfect conditions turned out to be too perfect for Titanic. It was a moonless night which added to the woes of the ship. It is noteworthy that most ships sink because of hurricane or storms and the weather conditions making it difficult. The waves would have highlighted the iceberg and the catastrophe could have been averted.

It's the people

image source

Human stories of courage and timely decisions have always made for folklore or great stories. One of the things that separate the Titanic disaster from the rest is the fact that the incident gave time to those on board to decide what their fate would be. The 1997 movie directed by James Cameron in one scene showed an elderly couple deciding to stay together and not boarding a lifeboat. This is a real life story of Ida and Isidor Strauss, the owners of Macy's. Then there is the story of J. Bruce Ismay, the owner of the company that built the ship, who decided to stay on board and help the passengers and then suddenly decided to abandon the ship. These tales go on to show us the predicament of those aboard pertaining to the possible ultimate decision of their life on the fateful night.

There is something mystical and enigmatic about past catastrophe. It could either be the not knowing and the scope of discovery or the tales passed on from generations. Whatever it is, Titanic has it all and this has made it a permanent feature in our psyche even after a century of the sinking.

Editor's Note: The author of this post is Peter Berg, an employee at I&M, leading manufacturers of electric hydraulic power packs. Peter is an ardent supporter of the Warriors and enjoys going to the games on weekends.

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#1

Re: Titanic Sank Over A Century Ago, But The Story Lives On - 5 Possible Reasons Why Is It So Interesting Even Today!

10/13/2013 7:03 AM

'...thousands of miles beneath the ocean surface....'

.

.

Does 0.00235 thousand really qualify as thousands?

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#2
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Re: Titanic Sank Over A Century Ago, But The Story Lives On - 5 Possible Reasons Why Is It So Interesting Even Today!

10/13/2013 3:52 PM

That's okay. If you follow the source of the first picture you will find it relates to a flooded mine somewhere that had nothing to do with the Titanic sinking or its debris.

Given the level of incompetence show here then multiplied over the last hundred years it could be possible the TItanic never sank.

In fact the odds are it's still in service and back then the issue was nothing more than a light bulb burned out. It's just that after having the report mistold wrongly a few hundred times....... well? A basic report about burned out light bulb could eventually turn into one of the worst disasters of all time if given enough media spin and over exaggerations!

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Re: Titanic Sank Over A Century Ago, But The Story Lives On - 5 Possible Reasons Why Is It So Interesting Even Today!

10/13/2013 4:20 PM
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#4

Re: Titanic Sank Over A Century Ago, But The Story Lives On - 5 Possible Reasons Why Is It So Interesting Even Today!

10/13/2013 5:30 PM

Can't the collective literature even decide between two stacks versus four?

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#5

Re: Titanic Sank Over A Century Ago, But The Story Lives On - 5 Possible Reasons Why Is It So Interesting Even Today!

10/14/2013 7:21 AM

The city of Belfast is justifiably proud of its shipbuilding traditions and its stong links to this unfortunate ship in particular. Any visitor there needs to allow a full day to visit the Titanic Belfast exhibition and take it all in; the attraction is world-class in its quality and accompanying amenities.

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Re: Titanic Sank Over A Century Ago, But The Story Lives On - 5 Possible Reasons Why Is It So Interesting Even Today!

10/14/2013 8:33 AM

I visited that museum last spring. I thought it was an absolutely stunning exhibit, and it is on its way to become the most popular museum exhibit in Europe. Already visitorship has exceeded the Vatican Musum, the Louvre, and the Ufitsi combined for instance.

As to why the sinking is so fascinating to people...its because of the fall out from the loss of all those rich people. Almost everybody was affected...Carnegie stopped building libraries, rails stopped getting laid all over North America, and basically it formed a watershed in history when (if I may be so bold as to borrow the words of a great writer) Atlas was shaken down to his very core. The political, economic situation changed so greatly that there was no checks and balances to prevent the situations which led to the first world war.

The sinking exposed the best and the worst of society at the time... Ben Gugenheim sat on the deck and said "Never let it be said a woman or a child died because Ben Gugenheim was a coward, and he and his valet calmly watched as as many as could get away DID get away. It exposed the worst in that there were insufficient spaces on the life boats for everybody and the poorest passengers had trouble getting on deck.

More to the point, it was a "pivotal point" in history. The JFK shooting, the Challenger explosion, the Twin Towers...everybody knows where they were when those events occurred, and every knew the world would never quite be the same again.

The age of the great ocean liners did not end with the Titanic, Derigibles continued to fly after the Hindenburg, and we STILL make skyscrapers without escape slides even in the face of deadly hate from those who would bring them down. (You know they only have to succeed once!) Pivotal events like the shooting of an obscure Duke in Austria by a disgruntled Serbian agent. Pivotal events like a beer hall which got surrounded by a hundred annoyed soldiers. Pivotal events like Canadian soldiers standing there at an airport in Cyprus totally underarmed, and yet they standing their ground. (They hold it still.) These high points of history are often not very important in themselves, but they are important for what they led to.

The titanic exposed a class structure which was, well, there, but kind of accepted as the status quo. A great coal strike nearly delayed the Titanic's sailing, and led to the rise of the Unions, and a better life for all. (eventually) Although this was concurrent to the disaster, it was also in the newspapers of the time. The end result, within a few short generations, was the collapse of cottage industries, the clean up of factories and a more classless society. The first world war and the Unions helped, the Titanic became a symbol of all that was bad in society. The split between the have and the have nots. It was also the symbol all that was good in society, chiefly the symbol of hope...not a shabby symbol. The poor who died on the Titanic were filled with hope for a new life, and they were actually housed better than usual, and people knew it even at the time.

I could ramble on and on about the value of symbols. However I note that there was a collapse of a garment factory in Bangladesh only recently, which shows to the world that all the good things that came out of the "Titanic revolution" in the beginning of the last century in Europe need to happen all over again in other parts of the world. The great cyclone which hit India last week killed only fifteen people...compare to the same event in 1999 which killed...what ten thousand! So its happening. So slowly, but it IS happening! The world is changing for the better.

(trying to end on a high note here) rant mode off...

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#24
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Re: Titanic Sank Over A Century Ago, But The Story Lives On - 5 Possible Reasons Why Is It So Interesting Even Today!

10/15/2013 4:47 AM

It's a shame there isn't a Good Rant button. Do have a Good Answer instead.

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Re: Titanic Sank Over A Century Ago, But The Story Lives On - 5 Possible Reasons Why Is It So Interesting Even Today!

10/15/2013 5:07 AM

I second that suggestion: a 'good rant' button would be great.

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Re: Titanic Sank Over A Century Ago, But The Story Lives On - 5 Possible Reasons Why Is It So Interesting Even Today!

10/15/2013 11:29 AM

Well, mark it off topic then.

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Re: Titanic Sank Over A Century Ago, But The Story Lives On - 5 Possible Reasons Why Is It So Interesting Even Today!

10/14/2013 8:34 AM

Oh, and Peter, regardless of my rant, I think every point you made was spot on.

I just have a different viewpoint thats all.

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#8

Re: Titanic Sank Over A Century Ago, But The Story Lives On - 5 Possible Reasons Why Is It So Interesting Even Today!

10/14/2013 9:18 AM

I am not sure there is anything left to be said after reading your composition Yufef. As humans we seek perfection every day. It is an elusive target. But we do well to keep trying, it brings satisfaction when simply some tiny bit of perfection in any discipline is accomplished. So it is with the Titanic, its story, its fate, its engineering, its human failures and bravery. It seems to take some tragedy to propel us ahead.

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Re: Titanic Sank Over A Century Ago, But The Story Lives On - 5 Possible Reasons Why Is It So Interesting Even Today!

10/14/2013 10:04 AM

I think it is so interesting to people because 95% of the scientists at the time said that there was incontravertible evidence that the ship could not sink. There was to be no more debate about it. They corrolated several decades of data and used models to prove it could not sink.

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Re: Titanic Sank Over A Century Ago, But The Story Lives On - 5 Possible Reasons Why Is It So Interesting Even Today!

10/14/2013 10:21 AM

funny, the chief engineer did not think that. No such thing as an unsinkable ship. The Press made a big deal about it, but the Engineers were as nervous as they always are.

The CE wanted to flood the aft compartment to level it. If he had done so, it would not have sunk. The captain disagreed, and the CE drank a bottle of Islay and went down with his creation.

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Re: Titanic Sank Over A Century Ago, But The Story Lives On - 5 Possible Reasons Why Is It So Interesting Even Today!

10/14/2013 11:04 AM

I am most intrigued by this blog- while the technical details are history my connection to this disaster is more personal and is in the rescue effort- The captain of the Carpathia, the ship that rescued many passangers and spread oil on the water- Captain Arthur Henry Rostron was my great uncle- My mothers mothers brother and his sea chest is still in the family

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Re: Titanic Sank Over A Century Ago, But The Story Lives On - 5 Possible Reasons Why Is It So Interesting Even Today!

10/14/2013 11:00 PM

I spent about four years shooing flies off that wreck supporting Trackers out of Summerside PEI. It is in Canadian Waters. Nobody can dive on that wreck without permission from the Dept of fisheries and oceans. We were chasing treasure hunters away about once a week.

The interest has abated a bit. But there are still draggers pulling up stuff to sell on Ebay. Bastards.

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Re: Titanic Sank Over A Century Ago, But The Story Lives On - 5 Possible Reasons Why Is It So Interesting Even Today!

10/14/2013 11:49 AM

I think the reason it's still so interesting, is that it stands as one of the greatest testaments, that human error can trump even the finest designs and technology.

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Re: Titanic Sank Over A Century Ago, But The Story Lives On - 5 Possible Reasons Why Is It So Interesting Even Today!

10/14/2013 2:20 PM

That was the human error where the lookout didn't see the iceberg in the fog?

Could have happened to ANY ship of the time. Just happened to be this one.

Mind you, in Belfast, they say "it was fine when she left here, then an English Captain took it." Usually there is a smile on their face when they say that, of course.

There was nothing wrong with that ship. Her identical twin sister sailed for many years afterwards, until a torpedo sent it down. Wearing hospital colours I might add! No errors happened in her construction. In retrospect, they figured they could have done some things better. Bulkheads all the way up, that sort of thing. But nobody ever said it was "unsinkable". Many of the lifeboats were only half loaded, so more lifeboats would not have helped. What would have helped? I imagine a lot of people have skull sweated over that very question.

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Re: Titanic Sank Over A Century Ago, But The Story Lives On - 5 Possible Reasons Why Is It So Interesting Even Today!

10/14/2013 2:40 PM

This is interesting.

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/Did-the-Titanic-Sink-Because-of-an-Optical-Illusion.html?c=y&page=1&navigation=previous#IMAGES

There are lots of theories:

http://news.discovery.com/history/steering-error-sunk-the-titanic-says-author.htm

Mine is more simple...I think it was a human error to claim that the ship was unsinkable, which led to a false sense of security, and they were sailing too fast, after, they had been warned of ice in the area.

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Re: Titanic Sank Over A Century Ago, But The Story Lives On - 5 Possible Reasons Why Is It So Interesting Even Today!

10/14/2013 3:02 PM

I've seen it first hand...

I was on throttles in the main engine room of a Navy destroyer, and we had just arrived in GITMO for training exercises.

Well, the hotshots up on the bridge, (including the captain), wanted to show off a little. I knew we were approaching the pier...and I also knew we were going too fast.

Their little plan was to make a fast approach to the pier, throw it in reverse at the last minute, and make a perfect stop alongside. Wrong!!!!!

Either they didn't know, or they forgot, that a damned ship doesn't have a transmission, and you can't stop it on a dime.

They went from full forward to full reverse. I did the best I could, but if you lose vacuum, you've got some really big problems...like flooding the boilers, destroying the turbines, etc.

SLAM!!!!!!!!!

A great start to our training, and we were judged against other ships.

Fortunately, I had the chief engineer behind me, and he knew that there was no way for me to stop that boat.

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Re: Titanic Sank Over A Century Ago, But The Story Lives On - 5 Possible Reasons Why Is It So Interesting Even Today!

10/14/2013 3:26 PM

They DID NOT CLAIM IT WAS UNSINKABLE! None of the crew or engineers thought it was unsinkable, in fact, they were more cautious than normal because they were on its maiden voyage. That was a news reporter who spread that story, which was about the many innovations which made it safer. The engineers of the day were working to eliminate the chain of events which result in disasters, and did a pretty good job. That well deserved pat on the back has come back to haunt them even now! As if that was a bad thing!

The crew was new, and not as familiar with the vessel. Some didn't know their way around. It was going full speed, true. Maybe they should have pulled the throttle back a bit. They had never steered anything that big before, and maybe a smaller, more nimble ship like the Californian might have deeked around the berg. The water was calm and didn't splash on the side of the iceberg like they were suspecting, but they DID see it, and only a few seconds too late. They sent up flares when they were going down, and other ships thought they were just partying because they didn't send up mayday flares alone.The other ships just moved along instead of coming to check on them. Was this the human error? In that case, it was human error on the other ship's part. Human error (except in very broad strokes did not sink the Titanic. The guy who cast off and decided to go for it shares just as much blame as the crew on board.) Human error alone DID NOT sink the titanic. It was happenstance. Basically, sh*t happens. There is a TV show called "mayday" which discusses disasters like this one, (though mostly involving aircraft) and the fact that there was a multitude of things that seem to go wrong when things go wrong. The trick is to eliminate more and more of the chain of disaster. Remove one link and you get a "close call".

The Olympic, her sister ship, had an extra belt of steel just below her waterline nailed over her plating after the inquest. Never needed it...but it became common for warships after that.

The best laid plans of mice and men gang oft aglay. I have got used to the fact that the universe is a hostile environment. Sometimes the bear bites back. Was it arrogance? Some have said so. Its hard to imagine a more arrogant individual than a British Officer at the turn of the last century! OTOH, he was entrusted with the greatest ship of its time. So, perhaps a little humility would have been out of place!

I just wish they had not seen it at all, and hit it dead on. Then only one compartment would have been flooded. And it would have gone back to Belfast to get repaired. Or Newport News....

Big ships often run into trouble. The paddle wheel steamer the Great Eastern found a rock in New York harbour. Just as a for instance. And we won't discuss the cluster xxxx of events which led to the Costa Concordia going on the rocks in Italy. Now THERE was human error on a grand scale. Most people don't know that if it had not been blown into shore, but had stayed out where it was, the death toll would have exceeded the Titanic. The Captain is fighting for his reputation. He SHOULD be fighting for his life.

Anyway, the entire inquest and results are here. They make for interesting reading.

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Re: Titanic Sank Over A Century Ago, But The Story Lives On - 5 Possible Reasons Why Is It So Interesting Even Today!

10/14/2013 3:46 PM

On April 14, a nearby ship, the Californian, sent a message at 10:55 p.m.: "Ice report: We are stopped and surrounded by ice." But the captain of the Titanic, Edward Smith, and First Officer William Murdoch did not heed these warnings, steaming ahead near full-speed.

http://www.livescience.com/38102-titanic-facts.html

And this is why we are still talking about the Titanic.

The book in my previous post mentions a dark family secret, in which a wrong turn was made. People will lie to cover their asses...

Without a black box, the speculation will never end.

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Re: Titanic Sank Over A Century Ago, But The Story Lives On - 5 Possible Reasons Why Is It So Interesting Even Today!

10/14/2013 4:16 PM

The bridge did not get that message. Is that the critical incident Yeah I could see that as a sort of broad stroked human error. But marconi wireless was new... and not relied upon as much as it was today. Only a few years before they would not have even had Marconi, and so there would have been NO human error involved. Failure to utilize new technology. Hmmm. You might have a point.

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Re: Titanic Sank Over A Century Ago, But The Story Lives On - 5 Possible Reasons Why Is It So Interesting Even Today!

10/14/2013 4:53 PM

When Philips received Evans' ice warning, he was almost deafened by the sudden interference in his headset and sent an angry response telling Evans to keep out of the airwaves. Philips also never passed this message to the bridge, but in his defence, Evans had not prefixed the message, with the letters, 'MSG' which stood for Master Service Gram and was customary for all messages intended for the bridge. Evans, feeling that he had done what was asked of him despite Philips' rude apparent rejection of the message, then switched off his wireless equipment and went to bed. This exchange was to prove serious, as it could have avoided Titanic's collision with the iceberg later on that night.

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Re: Titanic Sank Over A Century Ago, But The Story Lives On - 5 Possible Reasons Why Is It So Interesting Even Today!

10/14/2013 10:50 PM

Yup. A human error for sure. Pretty small one in the scheme of things, but one of a hundred things to go wrong that day.

A failure to employ the latest technology would be human error. However, ships moved through the area for centuries without marconi. The inquest did not single him out as the critical cause.

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#22

Re: Titanic Sank Over A Century Ago, But The Story Lives On - 5 Possible Reasons Why Is It So Interesting Even Today!

10/14/2013 11:54 PM

Anyone else remember singing a song about the Titanic as a child?

.

It was sad when that great ship went down.

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Re: Titanic Sank Over A Century Ago, But The Story Lives On - 5 Possible Reasons Why Is It So Interesting Even Today!

10/15/2013 12:25 AM

Classic fare for Scout camp sing-alongs around the campfire or in dining hall if it was raining.

Camp Squanto B.S.A., Plymouth, Mass.

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Re: Titanic Sank Over A Century Ago, But The Story Lives On - 5 Possible Reasons Why Is It So Interesting Even Today!

10/15/2013 11:27 AM

Yeah. The "LimeLighters" did a great version of that song. I'll check out the link later this evening when I am not down to the dregs of my coffee cup.

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#28

Re: Titanic Sank Over A Century Ago, But The Story Lives On - 5 Possible Reasons Why Is It So Interesting Even Today!

04/04/2015 1:29 AM

No one noted that the crow's nest watch had no binoculars. They forgot them as I recall, but didn't want to return for them. Any verification on this? Funny, when you put all of the reasons together, the whole story looks like Nature putting Man in his place.

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