10 Fascinating Titanic Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About
It's been 110 years since the Titanic sank in the frigid waters of the Atlantic. Although much of its ill-fated final voyage has become ingrained in pop culture, these little-known Titanic facts may surprise you.
A full moon may have caused the fatal iceberg to cross paths with Titanic
This Titanic fact might be the most surprising of all. Scientists arrived at a new theory that the full moon months before could be to blame for the Titanic’s collision with the iceberg, which killed about 1,500 people. Quoting astronomer Donald Olson of Texas State University-San Marcos, National Geographic’s Richard A. Lovett writes, “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,” writes Lovett.
Nearly five Titanics could be built with the money James Cameron’s Titanic has made worldwide
According to the California Science Center, the Titanic would cost about $400 million to build today. James Cameron’s Academy Award-winning film Titanic has earned over $1.84 billion worldwide since its release in 1997—enough to construct about 4.6 complete replicas of the ship. That’s not counting money earned from the 3D re-release of the film in 2012!
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 Maltin’s finding that “Atmospheric conditions in the area that night were ripe for super refraction. 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.”
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Researchers completed a map of the wreck site in 2012, using over 100,000 photos taken by underwater robots
The Associated Press reported in March 2012 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,” writes AP reporter Clarke Canfield. Though the site wasn’t fully mapped until that point, the Titanic’s wreckage was first discovered in September 1985 by underwater explorer Robert Ballard.
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$88,000: What Titanic’s final lunch menu fetched at auction
Everyone knew the menu would fetch big bucks when it hit the auction block back in 2015, but would you have appraised its value at $88,000 US? Millionaire Titanic passenger Benjamin Guggenheim may well have eaten the meal, which included grilled mutton chops and smoked sardines.
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More than 5,000 other artifacts went up for grabs in 2012
Collectors with deep pockets were able to bid on everything from silverware to pieces of the actual boat at a massive Titanic auction in 2012, reports CNN. The collection of items had been valued at $189 million previously.
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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.
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Halifax served as the hub for Titanic salvage efforts
Salvage efforts in the weeks following the disaster were launched out of Halifax. Although the bodies of many wealthy passengers were repatriated (at the families’ expense), more than 100 victims were interred in the city’s Fairview Lawn Cemetery. You can visit the grave site to this day.
Did you know you can see one of the Titanic’s deck chairs at this Halifax museum?
$2 Million: The cost to preserve the historic Belfast dock where the Titanic was built
According to BBC News, over $2 million was 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 was constructed to safeguard the area against flooding.
Even today, major ships still get “iced” by ocean bergs
Ships continue to struggle with icebergs to this day. In 2011, for example, “an iceberg tore a hole in the hull of a Russian fishing boat cruising around the Antarctic. The 32-person crew threw cargo overboard to lighten the ship while waiting nearly two weeks for rescue,” writes Lauren Everitt for BBC News Magazine.
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