MasterChef(US) Returns

The Culinary Trio Welcomes The Top 30 Photo: Fox
The Culinary Trio Welcomes The Top 30
Photo: Fox

You know summer is about here when Masterchef (US), returns to Fox. Now it is time for America’s best amateur chefs to step up to the plate and impress three important people: Joe Bastianich, Graham Elliot, and Gordon Ramsay. This is season 5 so we all know the drill by now. First they have individuals cook a meal for the judges to taste. Those that pass get an apron for the next level, the others leave. Then they assemble those that passed and make them do a challenge. It might be a cooking challenge or it might be a test of your basic culinary skills. Then they cut more leaving usually around 20 to compete in the Masterchef competition. Last year we saw Luca, who had been rejected a year before, pass muster and go all the way to the end and be crowned winner.

This is 2014 and things have changed. The powers that be decided to cut right to the chase so we do not see the first round and go directly to the final 30 awaiting the challenge to get the coveted white apron. And that is not all that has changed. Chef Graham Elliot has lost a lot of weight and looks great. He did it because of his family (he has a few little ones running underfoot these days). Good for him! Now it is time for some serious cooking and learning who the cheftestants are. The go to their assigned spots and strangely find a mirror under the cutting board. While one looks approvingly of himself, they are told put themselves on the plate. Time for the signature dish.

But there is a catch, of course, for the angel of death will walk by and taste their food. Those found wanting will go home. They did this last year but this time they stop the clock and tell Gavin to leave for his under seasoned food. Then the clock stops again and a gal who had a broken sauce also exits the kitchen. The clock runs down and the cheftestants are nervous. So after tasting the food as they passed by each station, the Culinary Trio pronounces judgment. Those called are given the coveted aprons. One of them is Courtney, who cooked an Italian style dish that Gordon liked. In her confessional, she tells us working many jobs led her to work in a gentleman’s club and is billed as an “aerial dancer” in the official bio. She has a lot of spunk and confidence. Hopefully she will be around a while on the show.

Fake Out
After handing out the aprons, there is a small group standing waiting to be told farewell. They look saddened by the prospect but fortunately it was a head fake. The competition is still on! Now they must cook using the exact same ingredients with the protein being chicken. We are off to the races again as they all frantically have to cook a meal that will judge whether they stay or go. Once again there is a catch for one of the Culinary Trio will be picked to cook alongside them. Astrid wants Gordon and so he suits up (so to speak) and joins them in the competition. He makes a minted Asian style dumplings dish that looks not only good but likely has terrific flavors as well. The nine are called up in threes to present their dishes.

First up we have “Little” Gordon whose dish is fine though not extraordinary. Leslie (the oldest of the competitors since he is 50 years old and stay at home dad), presents a stuffed chicken. Except it is a very large portion that Gordon chides him about. It passes muster and on we go to Corey. He made fried chicken with a potato souffle. Souffle! This kid is nuts to try that and the camera shows a rather poor looking specimen, Gordon tries to get it out but has to bang it hard on the plate breaking it in the process. The chicken tastes bad. No hard decision here so Corey heads out of the kitchen.

Astrid, Amy, and Michael are next. Astrid already has a knock against her for being unsanitary at her work station. For some reason she has a problem putting discards into the garbage bin nearby. So her floor area is covered, and I mean covered, with food scraps. She seems to think this is totally okay. In a real kitchen, they would toss her out for being filthy. Aside from attracting rodents, it can cause slips and falls. Yeah, just what a restaurant manager needs is a lawsuit from a server or cook staff slips and is hurt because some idiot decided to drop food scraps in the floor rather than the bin. Joe takes her to task and for a moment looks like she was going home. But she stays for the moment and then says that cleaning up is what staff is for. Astrid, learn from this quickly or Joe will send you home for real the next time.

Astrid’s seared chicken breast and hash are good. So she appears safe. Amy’s shrimp and chicken tacos look okay but the chicken is dry. Major ding for that. Finally Michael’s roast chicken is too salty so no brainer here either as to which two go home. Astrid takes her apron up to the balcony. The last three are Frances, Chandace, and Elise. Frances makes a spinach pasta with, Chandace a potato rosti, and Elise chicken pot pie. Chandace’s potato dish has raw potato in it. So she heads home while Frances and Elise get aprons. Gordon was not sure of Elise’s chicken pot pie at first. It did not look that great. And lets face it, a lot of people screw it up with mushy vegetables and dry chicken. Gordon liked it! So with a bit of head fake again making her think she was leaving, those on the balcony come down to join her as the final 22 is now complete.

Next week it is the competition for real with mystery box challenge and a double elimination. The previews show Leslie and Elizabeth getting heated during cooking. Leslie got into banter with Christian on the balcony during his cooking. And when they showed Leslie getting the apron, the camera panned up to show Christian and Victoria looking none too pleased. One of the early contestants last season (who did not make into the final cut) said that many of the cheftestants do mingle before the competition which would explain why there is already some animosity before the show gets going. Interesting to see how this develops over the season.

It is being shown on Monday night at 8pm as a lead into the latest 24 episode. Despite great promos, the ratings have not as good as hoped for that show. So they are hoping Masterchef will be a good lead in. Last year it competed with American Baking Competition on CBS. That show got mixed reactions and its ratings were mediocre. While not officially cancelled, it is not scheduled to be shown against MasterChef.

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Memorial Day

Gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery decorated by U.S. flags on Memorial Day weekend. Photo:Public domain
Gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery decorated by U.S. flags on Memorial Day weekend.
Photo:Public domain

In Flanders Fields
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Memorial Weekend Musings

 RMS Empress of Ireland 1908 Photo:Public Domain (Library and Archives Canada / PA-116389)
RMS Empress of Ireland 1908
Photo:Public Domain (Library and Archives Canada / PA-116389)

*The Empress of Ireland sank in the St. Lawrence River in 1914 after colliding with a freighter on 29 May 1914. It sank in just 14 minutes with a death toll of 1,012. It is one of the worst maritime disasters in Canada’s history but for a long time only lightly remembered. “Canada’s Titanic” as it is called was not well known outside of Canada, overshadowed by another ship’s tragedy–RMS Titanic. Today though people are starting to recall this terrible event and the lives lost according to news reports now that its centenary is approaching. Stories of the saved are being recalled and the dead remembered. According to The Province:

To mark the anniversary, the Maritime Museum of BC in Victoria has an exhibit of Klausen’s items. It is just one of the several Empress-related events across Canada. In Rimouski, the Pointe-au-Pere maritime museum, which has a pavilion dedicated to the Empress, will host a banquet and unveil a monument. Churches in Rimouski and nearby Ste-Luce plan to pay homage by ringing their bells in unison at 1:55 a.m., the time of the disaster.The Salvation Army, which dispatched 170 of its members on the ship to a rally in England, will hold its annual Empress ceremony Sunday at Toronto’s Mount Pleasant Cemetery as well as a reception May 31 in Rimouski. The organization lost 141 people, including Delamont, the Clarks and many of its Canadian leaders.

Sometimes it is easy to forget that Titanic, while a terrible tragedy, is not alone. There are other maritime tragedies out there that were just as impacting on families and organizations.
1. Empress Of Ireland, ‘Canada’s Titanic,’ Finally Getting Its Due After 100 Years (23 May 2014,The Province)
2.RMS Empress of Ireland (Wikipedia)
3. Empress of Ireland
4. Pointe-au-Père Historical Site

*Harland & Wolff is no longer constructing ships and works now with offshore structures that require heavy duty construction. Just recently though it set a world record by performing the world’s heaviest single point water load test. According to the Belfast Telegraph:

“The massive Samson gantry crane lifted an incredible 774 tonne load to certify Harland and Wolff’s latest spreader beam arrangement. Te actual test was over in a matter of minutes, however each water bag took 20 minutes to fill. The test was witnessed and certified by the Lloyds Ireland Surveyor Graham Knowles who was satisfied with the operation and pleased to participate in this unique world record.”

To say that is a lot of water is an understatement. Good to see old Harland & Wolff staying relevant in today’s changed maritime environment.
Source:Harland And Wolff Break World Record At Belfast Shipyard(23 May 2014,Belfast Telegraph)

*MasterChef is returning on Memorial Day this year. So we once again will go through the agony and triumph of watching the ‘cheftestants’ compete for the big monetary prize, cookbook, and glory. Over at Hell’s Kitchen, it is winding down but not fast enough. They ought to knock two out a week rather than stretch it out. We already know that there are fakers planted in the groups just to cause problems. Truthfully hard to see anyone worthy this season. More interesting is that except for one winner, no one ever gets the promised prize (there are various reasons for this) of becoming an executive chef for one of Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants. Kitchen Nightmares is already over and this season was short but intense. Gordon seems to have powered down the turmoil and focusing on getting them attentive to making fresh food. And being sanitary in doing so as well!

*Memorial Day is here so take a moment or more to remember in your thoughts all the brave men and women who gave their lives for this country. Their bravery and sacrifice must never be forgotten. Happy Memorial Day everyone.

Titanic News:Loraine Allison Update, Plaque For Titanic Lookout Reginald Lee,Historic Titanic Poem Comes Home

Mystery1. Loraine Allison Update
The Scientist ran a story about the Loraine Allison/Helen Kramer controversy. For those new to the story, please go to The Titanic Mystery Files: The Case of Loraine Allison/Helen Loriane Kramer and read the details. This article shows how forensic scientist Tracy Oost became associated with Loraine Allison Identification Project and obtained genetic samples for DNA analysis. DNA Diagnostics Center in Fairfield, Ohio conducted the analysis and determined that there was no possibility that Helen Kramer was Loraine Allison. Of course that has not stopped Debrina Woods or other supporters questioning the validity of the analysis. Wood’s claims their documentation “paints a completely different story.” Her website  states: “Regarding the premature, insensitive, irresponsible and INACCURATE Press announcements: NO WAY IS THIS MYSTERY SOLVED…

Except of course it is unless they can prove otherwise. So far Woods has produced nothing that contradicts the mDNA analysis. She claims to have support of some family members and even an Allison family member. Further at the website it claims:

We wish to thank everyone who has withheld judgments based on information supplied by the heavily biased hostiles involved (descendants of those my book will disclose as being implicated in much sinister wrong doing) and others, in attempting to discredit, confuse and suppress this story.

So her book will disclose sinister wrong doing likely by Allison family members and others. Tracy Oost says Woods needs to accept the fact the DNA test proves she is wrong. It seems unlikely, considering the tenor one reads at her website. More likely is that once the book is published she will seek maximum exposure on news shows and through Titanic organizations. And there is a hint that legal action is forthcoming from her against the Allison family and others associated with the mDNA analysis.
Source:Unsinkable Evidence (1 May2014,The Scientist)

Reginald Lee Photo: public domain
Reginald Lee
Photo: public domain

2. Plaque For Titanic Lookout At Grave
Reginald Lee, with Frederick Fleet, were the lookouts on duty aboard Titanic when the iceberg was sighted. He survived the sinking and was in lifeboat 13. He also testified at both the American and Titanic inquiries. But he passed away a year later from pneumonia and buried in Highland Road Cemetery next to his parents. But no one had ever put a plaque near his grave indicating his connection to Titanic. However The News reports that a plaque was indeed placed near his grave on the anniversary of Titanic’s sinking. The news article has a photograph of the plaque.
1. Plaque To Commemorate A Titanic Rowing Hero(20 May 2014,The News)
2.Reginald Robinson Lee (Encyclopedia Titanica)

3. Titanic Poem Returns Home
100 years ago two students at Blue Coats School wrote a poem about Titanic. That school is gone but memories of the poem lingered in some families who had relatives who attended the school and recited the poem. So a search was undertaken to find the actual poem or anyone who had information about it. And the work paid off because the poem was found in the sales office of Bellway Homes’ Bluecoats development, on the site where the school once stood. A reproduction of the poem now hangs on the main entrance of the Old Schoolhouse.
Source:Historic Titanic Poem Returns To Hang In Former Sheffield School(19 May 2014,The Star)

4.Not A Good Sign:Yacht Sinks On Maiden Launch
An 85-foot yacht on its maiden launch in Anacortes, Washington capsized. The yacht tipped over with six people on board. No one was injured though one person did get minor cuts and scrapes caused by having to pull him through a porthole that had to be cut open by axe. The yacht has since been righted and an investigation is underway to determine what happened. So far no word of a cursed mummy aboard.
Source:Capsized Yacht Pulled Upright; Sinking Cause Unknown (20 May 2014,Skagit Valley Herald)

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Memorial To Titanic Engine Room Heroes

Memorial to the Engine Room Heroes of the Titanic St. Nicholas Place, Pier Head, Liverpool, England Photo:Public Domain
Memorial to the Engine Room Heroes of the Titanic
St. Nicholas Place, Pier Head, Liverpool, England
Photo:Public Domain

Titanic Musings

Millvina Dean, British Titanic Society Titanic Convention, Hilton Hotel, Southampton, U.K. 1999 Photo:Stephen Daniels
Millvina Dean, British Titanic Society Titanic Convention, Hilton Hotel, Southampton, U.K. 1999
Photo:Stephen Daniels

1. How do you commemorate the passing of the last Titanic survivor? Skydiving, of course, according to Express & Echo. They report that two sisters, relatives of Milvina Dean, have pledged to do a charity skydive on the fifth anniversary of her death. Christina and Laura Squire (20 and 17 years old respectively) along with two friends plan to take the 15,000 feet plunge for cancer research. According to the news report, they were inspired to do the jump because family members and friends have battled the disease. As for their great aunt, Christina Squire says “We knew her as our Great Aunty. She lived such an amazing life and had so many stories to tell. We always had a chair next to the phone for when she called!” The skydive will take place on 31 May 2014.
Source:Last Titanic Survivor’s Devon Relatives To Do Charity Skydive To Mark 5th Anniversary Of Her Death(15 May 2014,Express & Echo)

2. Robert Ballard’s recent explorations of the Caribbean will be in an upcoming National Geographic Wild special Caribbean’s Deadly Underworld with Bob Ballard on 18 May. According to Mother Nature Network, Ballard says the Caribbean plate is active on four of its boundaries with earthquakes and volcanic eruptions capable of creating tsunamis. “ It is not a question of if these violent behaviors of the earth are going to occur but when and where,” says Ballard, noting that “the potential impact can vary as it has in the past in Haiti, for example, resulting in a tremendous loss of life and property.”
Source:Titanic Explorer Investigates The ‘Caribbean’s Deadly Underworld’
(16 Fri 2014,Mother Nature Network)

Godzilla Statue, Tokyo Photo:Wikiodaiba(Wikipedia)
Godzilla Statue, Tokyo

3. Godzilla is back and bigger than before say many reviews. But Netflix has put up many of the original Godzilla movies on its streaming side. So I spent the morning watching the original 1956 movie but it is the American not the Japanese version. The big difference between the two is the addition of Raymond Burr (later to become famous as Perry Mason) and how the movie unfolds the story. The original version has a different plot point (anti nuclear testing) while the American version was more of the monster movie (although it is suggested nuclear tests were responsible for its resurrection) The reason was to make it more marketable for U.S. audiences that may not want to watch an all Japanese movie. Burr’s character provides the narration for the movie (and thus avoiding lots of subtitles translating the Japanese to English). I have not seen this movie in a long time. I think the last time was years ago when Bob Wilkens had the old Creature Features show on a local station (that show long since gone).

I was pleasantly surprised at how well it holds up. Sure today we can do the special effects much better than back then. And it was a guy in a zipped up suit walking around. But the story was good and the destruction that Godzilla causes (pretty much leveling Tokyo) is done in a spectacular matter. And they make it clear Godzilla was no childs plaything but caused death and destruction in its path. And not just that it could level buildings with its atomic breath. I had forgotten the fact the creature is radioactive so anything it comes into contact gets contaminated like groundwater and people. The American version may not be as anti-nuke as the original but it makes clear Godzilla did not get its radioactivity from nature. And it of course opened the possibility other creatures might be out there as well (like another Godzilla perhaps?). So if you want to see the movie that started it all, either watch it at Netflix or you can purchase the dvd from Amazon that has both the U.S. and Japanese version on it. [Editor’s note: The original Godzilla (Gojira) movie was 1954 but the second American version (Godzilla! King of the Monsters)with Raymond Burr was 1956. According to Wikipedia, the 1956 movie “combined the original Japanese footage of Godzilla with new American-made footage of Raymond Burr as an American reporter covering the monster’s activities who would explain the action for an English-speaking audience with minimal dubbing.”]

4. I happen to watch court television. It usually is entertaining and sometimes informative. Small claims courts handle those cases too small for a regular court (usually for cases under $10,000 though states often cap lower around $5,000) and usually cases that deal with issues like car sales, loss of property, loans, tenant issues, evictions, and traffic accidents to name a few. It is a interesting assortment of cases that flow into these lesser courts and a long time ago the creators of The People’s Court picked up on it and turned into interesting television. Today you have a wide variety to choose from and different judges. Each one is different because of the format and how the judges review the cases. In these cases there are no juries and no lawyers either (unless one of the people involved is a lawyer). Unlike a real small claims court case there is almost no appeal because legally it is a binding arbitration since both parties give up that right to have it settled in this forum.

I tend to gravitate between The People’s Court, Judge Alex, and Judge Judy. All three have their own styles. Judge Judy is the most severe of all three. She wastes no time, cuts to the chase, and will not hesitate to tell your testimony is balderdash. Judge Alex tends to be a just a bit more relaxed (each case on his show is about 24 minutes and is the whole show), while People’s Court manages three or four in a hour and Judge Judy usually two (s0metimes three if one is dismissed right away). You get some cases at times that are  head scratchers. Like the one just recently on People’s Court.

A fellow buys a dump truck planning to use it for a new hauling business. But rather than right away heading off to DMV to register, he waits a year. He has all kinds of reasons for Judge Milian, who is grilling him why it took so long to do this and learn the title was defective. You see when you buy something, especially a car, one absolute requirement is the seller has clear title. Does not matter whether the car is new or used, sold by dealer or by private party. The title has to be clear. In this case the seller’s name did not match the name on the title. The seller says he bought it from a guy who is now deceased. Now had this been learned right away, normally a judge would cancel the sale, return the money, and the seller gets the car back. But this was peculiar because the plaintiff sat on it for a year and knew the title had a different name from that of the seller.

So on one hand you had a seller who knowingly sold a car with a defective title and a buyer who had to have seen it but failed to do anything about it for a year. And during that year that dump truck sat around somewhere. So now the guy wants to sell it but cannot since the title is defective. Leaving the judge with a thorny problem. A seller who wanted to pass on a problem and an idiot who sat on the problem for a year. So she decides to hold her judgment back and asks the seller to fix the problem and awards no money to the plaintiff. And she was going to bang her gavel on it but before she did explained to the plaintiff why he got nothing. She goes through the reasons including her disbelief that the truck was unused during that time. Then the guy decides to pop off by talking back to her about some local rules or something. She slams down the title on her desk, rules for the defendant, and tells the plaintiff to solve the problem on his own. So he walks out as he came in, with a vehicle he cannot register nor sell unless the seller can fix it (which he says will try to do probably to avoid the state coming after him for fraud). I suspect though there will be a dump truck found somewhere with long expired registration, tagged and towed, and eventually sold for scrap by the tow company.

Judge Judy would have laughed at his story and told him “You’re a fool!” and then dismissed his case.

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National Geographic Friday:Ballard’s Secret Mission

It has been a source of speculation that Titanic was located during the Cold War by the British Royal Navy or the United States Navy. Much of it has never been proven however Robert Ballard did locate Titanic as part of a plan to locate two sunken nuclear submarines for the U.S. Navy. And here is that story. Ballard’s Secret Mission by National Geographic.

Titanic Sinking Theories(formerly Titanic Alternative Sinking Theories)

This originally began as “Titanic Alternative Sinking Theories” but is more appropriate to state these are sinking theories that fall into three distinct categories. Since it sank in 1912, there have been numerous theories as to why Titanic sank. Some of them were based upon witness testimony at the two Titanic hearings and conjecture as to what might have happened. When the wreck was located in 1985, it solved some questions and raised others. The question has turned not to why Titanic sank (we know that of course, it struck an iceberg)but what factors contributed to its untimely demise. And that is where you get some interesting theories and ones that are well outside the box.

So to begin there are three distinct categories:




A)Plausible Theories
In order to be plausible, it must be based on scientific data, witness statements and other things that meet this criteria. It excludes otherwordly explanations (aliens, ghosts, curses, mummies etc) and conspiracies. However plausible theories may lack actual proof and be scientific conjecture. Others do offer proof through scientific tests. The point is that plausible theories have a rational basis in fact and science to be plausible.

Conspiracy advocates that collusion occurred between certain parties to bring about Titanic’s demise. The conspirators may be corporate villains or some secret organization pulling the strings of power to get the desired results.

Supernatural explanations involve portents of doom, curses, God, or cursed Egyptian mummy.

Plausible Theories

Side plan of the RMS Titanic from Engineering journal: 'The White Star liner Titanic', vol.9, 1911 Source:Public Domain(U.S.)
Side plan of the RMS Titanic from Engineering journal: ‘The White Star liner Titanic’, vol.9, 1911
Source:Public Domain(U.S.)

1)Titanic 300 Foot Gash/Sank In One Piece
Originally it was conjectured that the iceberg had ripped open a 300 foot gash although not all experts agreed. Edward Wilding (chief naval architect for Harland and Wolff), testified that it was not a continuous rip but that different openings along the hull allowed the water to enter to flood the compartments. Wilding was closer to the truth. Ultrasound scans of the hull found six slits or openings in an area covering 12 to 13 square feet. Also the openings followed the line of hull plates which meant rivets either popped or snapped off. As was later determined, many of the rivets in bow and stern were iron. Hull plates examined appear to be shattered on impact rather than bending. This it appears the ships hull was a contributing factor in its demise.

The wreck confirmed what some witnesses had said but discounted: that Titanic had broken in two. The front or bow section appears mostly intact but the stern badly damaged. One theory is that the front section had no air pockets by the time it went down so no implosions occurred. However the stern had air pockets remaining causing implosion as it went down resulting in the stern looking like it had been through a battle.

2) Pack Ice
Captain L.M.Collins, former member of Ice Pilotage Service, argued in 2003 that Titanic was not hit by an iceberg but low-lying pack ice. He based this on his own experience and witness statements given at American & British inquiries. His main points are 1)The lookouts did not see haze but a strip of pack ice; 2)Differences in iceberg height reported by the lookouts, Fourth Officer Boxhall, and others. Optical illusion created by cold sea and calm water created the illusion; 3)If Titanic had collided with an iceberg on starboard side, the hull and superstructure would have been more damaged and ship sunk faster.

While this theory has merit, most today believe the iceberg was low lying but inverted meaning bigger underwater than on top (which may have occurred if the berg flipped over at some point). Because it was bigger underwater and most of the damage was there, it explains why there would be less damage to the hull and superstructure.

3) Coal Fire
Robert Essenhigh, Ohio State University engineer, argued in 2004 that a coal fire led indirectly to iceberg collision. A pile of smouldering coal caused a problem resulting in them being put into furnaces. The increased speed due to the coal usage led to Titanic moving fast through the ice field. Essenhigh states records show fire control teams were standing by in Cherbourg and Southampton. He believes Titanic set off from Southampton with a coal bunker on fire or that coal ignited after leaving port. Since coal fires were common on coal fire ships and may be the reason for the U.S.S. Maine exploding in 1898.

In this theory, the coal fire would have weakened Titanic in that area (due to heat). And possibly that made that area more easy to be scrapped open by the iceberg. As for the increased use of coal, it was due to Captain Smith wanting to get to New York to beat Olympic’s arrival time.

3) Brittle Steel/ Rivet Theories
In 1997, Dr. H.P. Leighly, a metallurgical engineering professor at University of Missouri-Rolls announced that in an upcoming paper (January 1998 issue Journal of Metals) that Titanic steel was not as strong as modern steel. Co-authored with metallurgical engineering student Katie Felkins, the paper argued that analysis of 200 pounds of steel from the wreck showed it was 10 times more brittle than modern steel in freezing temperatures. Tests showed a high sulfur content, along with oxygen and phosphorus. Such levels, coupled with a low level of manganese contributes to brittle steel. Brittle steel, coupled with other factors, contributed to Titanic sinking.

Later tests on hull plate fragments showed average toughness under freezing conditions. If brittle steel did not play a role, then perhaps something else?

Rivet Theory
In 1998 a team of marine forensic experts began examining Titanic under the supervision of William H. Garzke Jr, a naval architect. Garzke said that a preliminary study of two wrought-iron rivets showed they had high concentrations of slag making then brittle and prone to failure. He believed the rivets popped and thus allowed the plates to separate letting water in. Dr. Timothy Foecke, a metallurgist with National Institute of Standards and Technology, did the analysis. Foecke said in his report “’The microstructure of the rivets is the most likely candidate for becoming a quantifiable metallurgical factor in the loss of Titanic.”

Foecke continued his research and in 2008, in collaboration Dr. Jennifer Hooper McCarthy, published What Really Sank the Titanic – New Forensic Discoveries. The book greatly expands upon what was announced in 2008. The findings were that steel rivets were fine but iron-wrought ones had three more times more slag than normal. The slag also was in large pieces. Since iron rivets were hand made, it is was likely done by inexperienced workers. However documents from Harland & Wolff indicates poorer quality material was also used to complete Titanic on time and used suppliers uncertified for this kind of work. Thus if the iron rivets had been of high average quality or steel rivets had been used in key areas, then fewer compartments would have flooded.

Needless to say, the Brittle Steel/Rivet Theory was not supported by many in the Titanic community. Many pointed out that Harland & Wolff used a formula (Siemens-Martin) to produce steel in armed merchant cruisers. It was commonly called “battleship quality” by yard workers. They point our that both Titanic and Olympic were built using well known and established shipbuilding design, just larger and with more strength. Harland & Wolff had a cost-plus arrangement with White Star that allowed them to add a percentage profit to final cost, so they had no need to cut costs by using poorer quality material.

Except of course that is what Harland & Wolff did to complete Titanic on time. While most of the ship has steel rivets, it is clear they also used iron rivets. And the use of those in areas where the iceberg impacted made it less strong. The scientific proof is there since the rivets tested came from Titanic. It does upset people to realize Harland & Wolff did cut a corner in this regard since they could add the cost the final bill. Whether it makes them negligent in Titanic’s demise is something else. It does put them uncomfortably in the same seat as those who thought launching a space shuttle on a cold morning would not be a problem. In the case of Titanic, iron rivets likely contributed to its demise though most of that falls on Captain Smith for traveling in high speed through an ice field at night and the Board of Trade for its inability to insure there were lifeboats for all.

As for Tim Foecke, he points out that his findings have been accepted by the scientific community and detractors have failed to come up with evidence that refutes the findings.

4) Atmospheric Conditions/Moon
1) In 2012, scientists at Texas State University reported in Sky & Telescope that a rare conjunction of Earth-Moon-Sun resulted in more icebergs than usual in 1912. A full moon on 4 January coupled with a spring tide and the combined effect of gravity caused the sea to rise exceptionally high resulting in more icebergs months down the road.

2)The March 2012 Smithsonian reported that British historian Tim Maltin believed atmospheric conditions made things very difficult that night for Titanic. A thermal inversion occurred that kept cold air below warmer air and the high pressure prevented fog from forming. The result was light refracts abnormally with some objects appearing higher and nearer than actually are resulting in a false horizon. That area between the false and true would be hazy. The iceberg would have been camouflaged under these conditions and not seen till to late. Titanic would appear too small and near to be an ocean liner from California, a reason why they did not think it was a ship in distress. Also the atmospherics would distort and disrupt any Morse lamp signals.

3) Closed Watertight Doors Made Titanic Go Down Faster
According to this theory, if the watertight doors had been opened Titanic would have sunk on an even keel and remained afloat longer. The problem is that there were no watertight doors between the first four compartments. So it would be impossible to limit water in the bow much (except by pumping it out). Calculations indicate keeping the watertight doors open would have hastened, not slowed the sinking. In fact, it would have sunk faster.

The Discovery channel documentary, Titanic: Secrets Revealed(1998), ran model simulations and found the theory wrong.

4) Expanding Joints Theory
This is not an alternative theory how of Titanic went down, but rather a technical debate on how the ship broke apart. The traditional belief is that Titanic became perpendicular before its final plunge. The actual breakup occurred at or near the surface. The ships expansion joint–designed to allow for flexing of the hull in a seaway–appears not to have been the cause for the break-up.

A History Channel expedition in 2005 proposed a new theory based on scrutinizing two large sections of Titanic’s keel. Roger Long, a naval architect developed a new break up scenario that was televised in 2006 (Titanic’s Final Moments: Missing Pieces). The major change was Titanic’s angle was no greater than 11?. Long believes the breakup began with the premature failure of the expansion joint, which caused Titanic to sink faster. The History Channel sponsored dives to Titanic’s sister ship Brittanic. The found the joints superior on Brittanic. The History Channel also commissioned a computer simulation at JMS Engineering. The results appeared in the 2007 documentary Titanic’s Achilles Heel. The JMS simulation partly refuted Long in showing Titanic’s expansion joints would work fine and would outperform design specifications. However since the joints were part of the superstructure, above B-deck, and at the top of the structural hull, the expansion joints really had no meaning in support of the hull.

B) Conspiracy Theories
1)The Titanic/Olympic Switch
Robin Gardiner in Titanic: The Ship That Never Sank? argues that Olympic, not Titanic was sunk. Olympic was the older ship and was nearly identical to Titanic except for detailing like the promenade deck windows. On 20 Sep 1911, the HMS Hawke collided into Olympic–caused by Olympic’s surge caused by her propellers-resulting in the Royal Navy demanding compensation. An admiralty board put the blame on Olympic for the collision and White Star was sued by the Royal Navy. That is history and now comes Gardiner’s theory.

He argues Lloyd’s of London did not want to pay the claim to White Star. With Olympic out of service and repairs delaying Titanic’s completion, White Star faced serious financial problems. So White Star decided to convert Olympic to Titanic. Since Titanic was hardly fitted out at the time, this was easy to do since few things were specifically identified to the original Titanic. This allowed for the easy switch of parts and accessories. At sea Gardiner speculates they would open the seacocks, a valve on the hull, to let water in to sink the ship. The quick switch resulted in a shorter sea trial. Since Olympics patched up hole could not take long periods of high speed.

Gardiner asserts that First Officer Murdoch was one of the few high-ranking officers aware of the plan. He was also to keep a watch out for the rescue ships. However instead of an iceberg colliding with Titanic, it was a rescue ship drifting on station without its lights on. Gardiner does not believe an iceberg could have inflicted damage to a ship that was steel double hulled. It was this rescue ship that was seen by Californian, the one that appeared to sail away. Titanic then remained in service for 25 years as Olympic.

As could be expected, this controversial theory was hotly challenged by most Titanic scholars and researchers. Gardiner’s methodology and evidence attacked as faulty and based less on finding the truth but writing a sensational story. Most author’s challenge the documentary evidence relied upon as faulty, incomplete, and even fabricated. To date, despite claims made by those who believe, no solid proof has yet to be found confirming the switch. Examination of the wreck confirms it is Titanic. Also since repairs were done at Harland & Wolff in Belfast, it would be hard to do a switch and keep it a secret. After all a large part of the worker force was from Belfast. With that many workers in the yard it would be hard not to notice a switch going on and it not getting out.

Submarine U-14(Circa 1910-1915) Image: Public Domain (U.S.Library of Congress,Bain Collection)
Submarine U-14(Circa 1910-1915)
Image: Public Domain (U.S.Library of Congress,Bain Collection)

2)German U-Boat Sank Titanic
Some have suggested a German U-Boat sank Titanic to collect on the insurance policy. Since the ship would be sunk in deep waters, it would never be learned a torpedo sank Titanic. And the lookouts would not be looking for a torpedo. Since it was late at night and it was hard to see anything, a torpedo could be fired unseen. Except that a torpedo striking a vessel is distinctive. It is an explosion that would have been noticed by a lot of people (and awakened them) unlike what happened. Those close to the impact felt while others further away felt nothing. A torpedo impact would be felt by just about everyone. It would also be easily proven when the wreck was found since torpedo impacts would be easy to spot. No such evidence was found.

One must distinguish the historical from the modern day. The original Illuminati were a secret organization in Bavaria in the 18th century. The espoused beliefs in republicanism, womens equality, opposed abuses of power, and separation of state and church. Radical ideas back then! They were outlawed by the Bavarian ruler and disbanded in 1785. Its more current use is to refer to organizations that somehow have links to the Bavarian Illuminati and conspire to control world affairs in various way. The Illuminati are often to central to many elaborate conspiracy theories by showing how they pull strings from the shadows. Many works of fiction, television, and movies have used Illuminati as plot devices.

The Illuminati come into play regarding Titanic thanks to the book “The Secret Terrorists” printed by Truth Triumphant Ministries, subsequently reprinted by the Tree of Life Resources. The book argues the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) is to blame for Titanic’s demise. Jesuits are a powerful and influential organization within the Catholic Church. It has established schools, universities, and has been confessors to powerful leaders. But it also acts as an enforcer and carried out religious killings (Jesuits pledge themselves to serve the pope). The plot regarding Titanic begins in 1910 when a secret meeting was held about creating the Federal Reserve Bank. Representatives of major banks were present including for the Rothschilds, which are agents for both the Jesuits and the wealth of the Catholic Church. These representatives established a cartel called the Federal Reserve and to ultimately bring about world domination by the Pope. The Jesuit Order controlled the Rotschilds, Morgans, and Rockefellers.

Those that opposed the Federal Reserve were Benjamin Guggenheim, Isidor Strauss, and John Jacob Astor. They stood in the way and had to be stopped. They were men of great power and wealth and along with others were aboard Titanic in 1912. Titanic became an instrument for getting rid of their opponents. They made sure the ship was considered unsinkable and would attract those of great wealth for its maiden voyage. Many Catholics aboard, particularly in third class, were considered expendable. The ship would be the means to kill them so no one would suspect they were murdered. Captain Edward Smith was part of the plan, who was a Jesuit (apparently you could be a lay person, be married, and keep the Jesuit title in secret) and worked for J.P. Morgan (Illuminati).

Frances Browne, S.J., known for his photographs of Titanic, is part of this as well. Apparently he was the most powerful Jesuit in Ireland and Smith’s master. His coming aboard was cover for meeting with Smith and briefing him on what needed to be done. Browne told Smith to sink Titanic in North Atlantic waters. This is why Titanic went at full speed, ignored ice warnings, and crashed into the iceberg. He did not act as a strong leader. Also the lack of lifeboats was on purpose to make sure those men of wealth they wanted dead would not survive. And all of this was done on the order of the Jesuits and Roman Catholic Church.

Okay that is the essential elements of the Illuminati/Titanic conspiracy. It makes for great reading and certainly one day a movie based on it.

Things to read:
1.Illuminati (Wikipedia)
2. Who Sunk the Titanic? (Illuminati News)
3. Illuminati, The New World Order & Paranoid Conspiracy Theorists (The Skeptic’s Dictionary)

C) Supernatural

Poster for the 1932 film The Mummy Image:Public Domain
Poster for the 1932 film The Mummy
Image:Public Domain

1)Mummy Curse
A mummy of ancient Egyptian pharoah or priestess (possibly a priestess of Amun-Ra) who died around 1050 B.C. The mummy ended up in the British Museum in the 1890’s after its discoverer (name unknown) or purchaser got possession of it and suffered serious misfortunes. However mysterious problems happened to visitors and staff at the museum. William Thomas Stead bought the mummy and stowed it in the underside of his car. He did not believe in the curse but feared its reputation would keep it off Titanic. Supposedly Stead revealed the mummy’s presence the night before Titanic sank.

According to the British Museum, they never received the mummy but only the lid of its sarcophagus. There are variations of this curse and unfortunately it has duped many people and at least one noted author.

2) No Pope
In their book,Titanic: Destination Disaster, John Eaton and Charles Haas wrote of workers reading Titanic’s hull number 390904 causing a major problem at Harland & Wolff. They write:

Yard number 401 also bore the builder’s hull number of 390904 — a number whose appearance almost caused construction work to stop. Perhaps it was first seen by a member of the drafting department straightening his tie in a mirror, or possibly by a yard worker catching a glimpse of the number reflected in a rain puddle. But regardless of the origin, the numerals, if hastily written and then read as a mirror image, spelled out to some the ominous words ‘NO POPE.’ And in the hearts of the pious, working-class Catholic employees in Belfast, there was deep indignation until a delegation of their men was assured by management representatives that it was all strictly coincidence, and that no malice had been intended. In spite of the assurance, and although work resumed, the builder’s hull number — for many then, and many today — spelled doom for the vessel.

Supposedly Harland & Wolff had to convince workers this was by coincidence and not a deliberate slap at Roman Catholicism. The tale is odd since people recognized the problem and acted upon it. Yet the tragedy still occurred implying that blasphemy brought a steep price (like the mummy’s curse). There is just one problem with this legend: Titanic’s hull number was not 3909 04. The official Board of Trade hull designation was 131,428 and the yard number 401. Try as you might, NO POPE is not spelled out with either the false or real numbers. There is also another problem with this legend. From everything known about Harland & Wolff back then, most of the workers were Protestant and not Catholic.

If have other theories that ought to be here, please comment below or send an email to
A copy of this will be posted to the website shortly.
This revises an earlier version, corrects some inaccuracies, and adds new information. (15 May 2014)