13 Things You Didn’t Know About the Titanic
For the 100th anniversary of the Titanic sinking, we bring you surprising bits of trivia and Titanic facts you've never heard.
By Damon Beres
1. A full moon may have caused the fatal iceberg to cross paths with the ship
Scientists recently arrived at a new theory that the full moon months before could be to blame for the collision, which killed about 1,500 people.
Quoting astronomer Donald Olson of Texas State University-San Marcos, National Geographic's Richard A. Lovett wrote, "That full moon, on January 4, 1912, may have created unusually strong tides that sent a flotilla of icebergs southward—just in time for Titanic's maiden voyage."
This wasn't a normal full moon, though: "It was the closest lunar approach, in fact, since A.D. 796, and Earth won't see its like again until 2257," wrote Lovett.
Video: Watch interviews with Titanic survivors >>
3. New research says an optical illusion prevented the ship from receiving help
British historian Tim Maltin believes that the atmosphere on the night of the sinking created conditions that made it difficult for the crew to spot icebergs—and for other ships to spot the Titanic.
Smithsonian magazine reported, "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."
Video: Watch a video clip about the sinking of the Titanic >>
4. Researchers completed a map of the wreck site in 2012, using over 100,000 photos taken by underwater robots
The Associated Press reported in early March that a team of researchers completed "what's believed to be the first comprehensive map of the entire 3-by-5-mile Titanic debris field," a milestone that could lead to more insights as to what happened when the ship sank on April 15, 1912.
"An expedition team used sonar imaging and more than 100,000 photos taken from underwater robots to create the map, which shows where hundreds of objects and pieces of the presumed-unsinkable vessel landed," wrote AP reporter Clarke Canfield.
Though the site wasn't fully mapped until now, the Titanic's wreckage was first discovered in September 1985 by underwater explorer Robert Ballard.
Video: See footage of the Titanic wreck site >>
5. $95,000: The expected auction price for the Titanic's final lunch menu
The Telegraph reports that the actual menu will likely fetch big bucks when it hits the auction block. Millionaire Titanic passenger Benjamin Guggenheim (left), may well have eaten the meal, which included grilled mutton chops and smoked sardines.
6. More than 5,000 other artifacts will also be up for grabs
Collectors with deep pockets will be able to bid on everything from silverware to pieces of the actual boat, reports CNN. The collection of items had been priced at $189 million previously.
Video: Watch a documentary clip about how the Titanic sank >>
7. Did an 1898 novella anticipate the Titanic disaster?
The plot of Morgan Robertson's Futility bears an uncanny resemblance to the events surrounding the sinking of the Titanic, published 14 years before the voyage.
The book tells the story of the Titan: "The largest ship ever built, billed as 'unsinkable' by its British owners and the press, strikes an iceberg one April and goes down. Due to a lack of lifeboats, more than half the passengers perish in the North Atlantic," wrote The Portland Press Herald of the book's plot. Sound familiar?
Futility has since been renamed The Wreck of the Titan, and it's available for free on Google Books.
8. There's an app for that
Those looking for more of a 21st century experience will find tons of information in The History Press' "Titanic: Her Story" iPad app. It includes a photo slideshow, sinking timeline, and more. Other new-tech ways to follow the voyage: live tweets of the voyage in real time on Twitter from The History Press @TitanicRealTime:
9. You can take a cruise that echoes the Titanic experience
Leaving exactly 100 years after the Titanic began its ill-fated voyage, a memorial cruise will make its way to Halifax, where many Titanic victims were laid to rest, and later arrive at the spot in the Atlantic where the ship sank for a day of reflection. No guarantee on spotting an iceberg.
10. $2 million: How much it will cost to preserve the historic Belfast dock where the Titanic was built
According to BBC News, over $2 million has been set aside for work on the Thompson Graving dock in "the largest single investment ever made by the Department of the Environment in support of an historic monument." A new building will be constructed to safeguard the area against flooding.
11. It's still one of the biggest local attractions and shows no sign of stopping: “Tragedy plus time equals tourism”
That's what one Titanic expert and guide told the Associated Press, and the theory's now being put to the test as a new exhibit about the ship opens in Belfast.