Tag Archives: National Geographic

Titanic News: Premier Exhibitions Bankruptcy Update, More Details On How Titanic Was Found

Premier Exhibitions Update-On May 25, 2018 the Bankruptcy Court granted the Equity Committee legal standing to pursue claims against current and former officers and directors of Premier Exhibitions. In short it means they have the ability to demand they pay damages to help reduce the outstanding debts of the company. Since they have retained counsel, it means they expect it will result in litigation to determine whether they are liable and if so, how much they will have to pay.
View original document here.
View materials on the case here.

Titanic Wreck Bow
Image: Public Domain (NOAA-http://www.gc.noaa.gov/images/gcil/ATT00561.jpg)

New Details on Secret Navy Mission Where Titanic Was Found-Some years ago it was revealed Titanic was discovered as part of a secret Navy mission that Ballard was on. He was sent on a mission to try to find out how two U.S. nuclear submarines had sunk. Using new submersible technology Ballard found those wrecks and the approximate location of Titanic. The National Geographic Museum in Washington D.C. reveals more of the details of that secret mission. “Titanic: The Untold Story” delves into the many details that have not been publicly revealed until now.

In 1985, Ballard’s mission was to dive to depths of 9,800 feet using a towed camera system called Argo to find and document the imploded remains of the Scorpion. The objective of the mission was to locate the submarine’s nuclear reactor and nuclear weapons and to gain evidence to help determine what led to her loss. After concluding his successful investigations of the Scorpion, Ballard used the final 12 days of his expedition to discover the RMS Titanic at a depth of 12,540 feet. The following year, while the public was enthralled and distracted by the discovery of the Titanic, Ballard returned on a second classified mission to the Thresher and Scorpion.

Visitors will view artifacts, materials and photographs from the U.S. Navy Archives, and see the submersible Alvin that dived to Titanic. They will also see a variety of Titanic related artifacts from the National Archives and movie memorabilia from 20th Century Fox.

Information about museum hours of operation and tickets can be found at https://www.nationalgeographic.org/dc/.

National Geographic Friday:Seconds From Disaster On Why Titanic Sank

One of the series I liked from National Geographic is their Seconds From Disaster series. They examine well known accidents using the latest in forensic technology to answer why the disaster occurred. They also did one for Titanic. Enjoy and share your thoughts on their examination in the comments section.


Cameron’s Deep Sea Challenger In Washington D.C.

Deep Sea Challenger making its way through D.C. city streets to National Geographic Society building earlier this week. It will stay for two days before heading off to Woods Hole  Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts. (Photo: Washington Post)
(Photo: Washington Post)

Deep Sea Challenger making its way through D.C. city streets to National Geographic Society building earlier this week. It will stay for two days before heading off to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts.

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Titanic Sunk By Optical Illusion! No, It Was A Rare Celestial Alignment! Competing Claims Hit Titanic Community As Centennial Of Sinking Draws Closer

Titanic Trials
Photo courtesy George Behe

Over the years there have been many theories as to why Titanic sank in 1912. Some are outlandish, such as a submarine or White Star switching Titanic for Olympic. The wreck weakened several beliefs, such as Titanic going down in one piece or that there was 300 foot gash. We have had theories about brittle steel contributing to its demise. Now competing theories appearing in The Smithsonian magazine and National Geographic once again take us into the world of speculative theorizing.

British historian Tim Maltin, after reviewing evidence gathered from weather records, survivor accounts, and previous studies believes “super refraction” prevented not only seeing Titanic in time but prevented the nearby California from really seeing clearly a ship in distress. The atmospheric conditions with air cooling from the bottom with warm air above creates a light inversion and a mirage making objects appear higher (and nearer) than they really are resulting in a false horizon. And the area between the real and false horizon would have haze. The result was that on a moonless night Titanic sighted the iceberg when it was too close. On the California, Titanic appeared too small and too near to be an ocean liner–an effect created by this unique super refraction. This would explain why California did not see the Morse lamp due to the distortion and later Titanic’s rockets. Titanic fired distress rockets 600 feet into the air but the distortion made them appear lower than the ship.

On the other hand, National Geographic has astronomer Donald Olson of Texas State University-San Marcos proposing that the large amount of icebergs in 1912 was a rare alignment of Earth-Moon-Sun intensifying the gravitational pull on the planet. The result are very low tides and very high tides (called a spring tide). Since icebergs do not travel fast, older icebergs were affected by the high tide and sent southward into Titanic’s path. And of course the rest is history.

Maltin’s claim provides more to California than Titanic. We already know Titanic was moving at night with no moon and in an area with lots of icebergs. Lookouts had no binoculars and did not see the iceberg until they were nearly upon it. Murdoch tried to port around the berg but doing so took precious time and ended up inflicting fatal damage to Titanic. Under this theory, Captain Lord appears vindicated. He claimed to not know it was Titanic, that distress rockets were not seen, and that the ship appeared to be too small. Speculation of a third ship between the two has never been proven. The theory of super refraction is fascinating. And it is possible under the right conditions but was it that way that night? The only answer is maybe since we have no conclusive evidence it did happen. Possibly experiments using those conditions might lead to answers.

As to the “supermoon” theory as some call it, that has less plausibility if for nothing else other astronomers argue back that the effect was not that great and likely did not contribute to large numbers of icebergs in the North Atlantic that year. Some speculate it was warmer water currents that may have been the cause.

It is not surprising these theories suddenly come out just before Titanic’s centennial takes place. With many people focused on Titanic, many will be drawn to them. Maltin has a book coming out about his theory and Smithsonian has a documentary called “Titanic’s Final Mystery” being televised on 15 April. So the news about this theory is more public relations than anything else. Olson has co-authored a report on this theory so again we have public relations drumming up interest.

Neither theory really gets into or changes the underlying facts. Whether you believe there was a super refraction or an unusual celestial alignment that created higher tides does little to change what happened that night. Nor does it excuse errors in judgment made by White Star, Captain Smith, or Captain Lord on Carpathia. It is speculative theorizing that sounds fascinating, possibly plausible, but in the end adds nothing to the story and 1,522 lives lost that fateful night.


1)Maltin’s Theory
Did The Titanic Sink Because Of An Optical Illusion?, Smithsonian, March 2012

2)Olson’s Theory
Titanic Sunk by “Supermoon” and Celestial Alignment?, National Geographic, March 2012