Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

The role of physics in the sinking of the Titanic

Date:
April 1, 2012
Source:
Institute of Physics (IOP)
Summary:
A century on from the sinking of the Titanic, science writer Richard Corfield takes a look at the cascade of events that led to the demise of the "unsinkable" ship, taking into account the maths and physics that played a significant part.

A century on from the sinking of the Titanic, science writer Richard Corfield takes a look at the cascade of events that led to the demise of the "unsinkable" ship, taking into account the maths and physics that played a significant part. His article appears in April's issue of Physics World and online in physicsworld.com, a website of the Institute of Physics.

At 11.40 p.m. on Sunday 14 April 1912 the Titanic, bound from Southampton to New York, struck an iceberg just off the coast of Newfoundland and became fully submerged within three hours, before dropping four kilometres to the bottom of the Atlantic.

There have been many stories recounting why the ship struck the iceberg and why two-thirds of the passengers and crew lost their lives: the lack of lifeboats; the absence of binoculars in the crow's nest; the shortcomings of the radio operator. However, in this article, Corfield takes a more in-depth look at the structural deficiencies of the ship and how these contributed to its demise.

Corfield highlights the work of two metallurgists, Tim Foecke and Jennifer Hooper McCarty, who combined their own analysis with historical records from the shipyard in Belfast where the Titanic was built and found that the rivets that held the ship?s hull together were not uniform in composition or quality and not been inserted in a uniform fashion.

This meant that, in practice, the region of the Titanic's hull that hit the iceberg was substantially weaker than the main body of the ship Foecke and McCarty speculate that the poorer-quality materials were used as a cost-cutting exercise.

As well as the actual make-up of the ship, it also appears that the climate thousands of miles away from where the ship actually sunk may have had a hand in events. At times when the weather is warmer than usual in the Caribbean, the Gulf Stream intersects with the glacier-carrying Labrador Current in the North Atlantic in such a way that icebergs are aligned to form a barrier of ice.

In 1912 the Caribbean experienced an unusually hot summer and so the Gulf Stream was particularly intense; the Titanic hit the iceberg right at the intersection of the Gulf Stream and the Labrador Current.

"No one thing sent the Titanic to the bottom of the North Atlantic. Rather, the ship was ensnared by a perfect storm of circumstances that conspired her to doom," writes Corfield.

The article is available at: http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/print/49023


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Institute of Physics (IOP). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Institute of Physics (IOP). "The role of physics in the sinking of the Titanic." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 April 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120401194413.htm>.
Institute of Physics (IOP). (2012, April 1). The role of physics in the sinking of the Titanic. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120401194413.htm
Institute of Physics (IOP). "The role of physics in the sinking of the Titanic." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120401194413.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Gulfstream G500, G600 Unveiling

Gulfstream G500, G600 Unveiling

Flying (Oct. 20, 2014) Watch Gulfstream's public launch of the G500 and G600 at their headquarters in Savannah, Ga., along with a surprise unveiling of the G500, which taxied up under its own power. Video provided by Flying
Powered by NewsLook.com
Japanese Scientists Unveil Floating 3D Projection

Japanese Scientists Unveil Floating 3D Projection

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 20, 2014) Scientists in Tokyo have demonstrated what they say is the world's first 3D projection that floats in mid air. A laser that fires a pulse up to a thousand times a second superheats molecules in the air, creating a spark which can be guided to certain points in the air to shape what the human eye perceives as an image. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-Fuel Impala

Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-Fuel Impala

3BL Media (Oct. 20, 2014) Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-fuel Impala Video provided by 3BL
Powered by NewsLook.com
What We Know About Microsoft's Rumored Smartwatch

What We Know About Microsoft's Rumored Smartwatch

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) Microsoft will reportedly release a smartwatch that works across different mobile platforms, has a two-day battery life and tracks heart rate. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins