Recently, I wrote an article on how the wreck of the Titanic will disappear within the next two decades. Today is the thirty-fifth anniversary of founding the ship underneath the sea. Therefore, it took scientists over seventy years to find the wreck. Why it took so long and what can we learn from studying the wreck of the Titanic?
The One Unfinished Journey
The constructors of Titanic claimed that even in the worst possible scenario the ship should stay afloat for at least two days after every collision. That would give the nearby ships time to arrive and save the passengers. However, the greatest ‘unsinkable’ liner sunk after less than three hours after collision with barely an iceberg. Today we know it was due to some construction issues.
First of all, the brittle fracture. It occurs in low temperatures, high speed, great impact, and high concentration of sulphur. Hull steal contains a lot of sulphur, Titanic was traveling rapidly, it was freezing outside. Therefore, all the conditions were present and after the collision, the hull steel and the wrought-iron rivets separated. Another important factors, that contributed to the sinking, were design issues. Titanic’s watertight compartments were poorly designed, and six of sixteen of them were leaking water after the collision. The slight correction of placement of those compartments would have put off the sinking for at least a couple hours, which would give the help more time to arrive.
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The Discovery of the Wreck of Titanic
Looking For Titanic
We might think that the entire shipwreck of the enormous liner is quite an easy thing to find. However, it is not that obvious. First of all, the exact sinking place remained unknown, so we need to explore a large area. To make things a little trickier, it is a deep-sea, extremely dark area. Additionally, the wreck becomes more and more damaged with time. All of that makes the search for Titanic almost like looking for a certainly shaped rock on the beach.
However, there were people who decided to fund the expedition. The typical way of searching for underwater objects includes sonars. In addition to those, Robert Ballard- a deep-sea explorer, discovered that the undersea currents carry pieces from sunken vessels. He estimated that the Titanic’s would be 2 km long and decided to look for it. In 1985 Ballard had only 12 days and one vehicle packed with cameras- Argo. He managed to find the trash trail and followed it to the wreck of the Titanic.
What Can We Learn From The Wreck?
The Condition of The Wreck of Titanic
A year after the discovery, Ballard came back to the ship. His team was the first of many to research the wreck. The first information scientists collected was quite basic. The wreck lies almost 4km below sea level, about 600km from Newfoundland coast. It is in two main pieces, surrounded by smaller parts, artifacts, and lots of debris. The newly discovered species eats it up quite rapidly, however, the bow is still in quite a good condition. Years underwater destroyed the wreck, but there were many attempts to raise it. Eighteen tons of Vaseline, half a ton of liquid nitrogen, even filling the wreck with ping pong balls! However, it is way too fragile and now protected by the UNESCO.
Memory of the Catastrophe
Many objects have been collected from the Titanic since 1985. Artifacts from the ship can be found mostly in museums in Canada, the UK, and the US. Some were donated by the survivors or their families, others were fished out from the wreck. The catastrophe remains in the folk memory and is quite vivid in pop culture. There is an over two thousand square kilometers exhibition reconstructing the grand floor, cabins, and many other rooms. It also has an enormous collection of artifacts. And of course about one of the highest-grossing, most awarded movies of all time- the James Cameron’s Titanic, inspired by the catastrophe.