Answered Did an Optical Illusion help sink the RMS Titanic?

RedFlame0627

RedFlame0627

Member
The Titanic was steaming through the North Atlantic ocean, and on the night of April 14th, they began steaming through the Labrador current, which brings icebergs down from the Arctic Ocean. Did the current cause an optical illusion that hid the iceberg from view?
 
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Arun Vajpey
IMO. this "false horizon" theory promoted by the likes of Tim Maltin was based on Fleet's report of seeing a "haze" in the distant horizon a minute or so before he saw the dark object ahead. Sam has explained the so-called "haze" very well in the article linked above. Hardly anyone else commented on the existence of any haze, including Captain Rostron. Most telling was a comment by survivor Lawrence Beesley on Lifeboat #13; I have taken the liberty of copying this excerpt from Sam's article:
The complete absence of haze produced a phenomenon I had never seen before: where the sky met the sea the line was as clear and definite as the edge of a knife, so that the water and the air never merged gradually into each other and...
Seumas

Seumas

Member
Isn't this Tim Maltin's big theory ?

I think Sam debunked it a few year ago but Mr Maltin continues to promote it.
 
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RedFlame0627

RedFlame0627

Member
I got this idea for Sam Pence from the YouTube Channel Historic Travels. The Titanic was steaming from warm waters to cold waters, which was believed to cause a Mirage called a Coldwater Mirage. In said mirage, if you look off in the distance, you see what you think is horizon. But the real horizon is below it. The horizon you see is called the False Horizon. Everything below the Horizon is complety camoflauged and you can't see it.
Doesn't that make sense?


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Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

Member
IMO. this "false horizon" theory promoted by the likes of Tim Maltin was based on Fleet's report of seeing a "haze" in the distant horizon a minute or so before he saw the dark object ahead. Sam has explained the so-called "haze" very well in the article linked above. Hardly anyone else commented on the existence of any haze, including Captain Rostron. Most telling was a comment by survivor Lawrence Beesley on Lifeboat #13; I have taken the liberty of copying this excerpt from Sam's article:
The complete absence of haze produced a phenomenon I had never seen before: where the sky met the sea the line was as clear and definite as the edge of a knife, so that the water and the air never merged gradually into each other and blended to a softened rounded horizon, but each element was so exclusively separate that where a star came low down in the sky near the clear-cut edge of the waterline, it still lost none of its brilliance.

As others have said, the so-called "Superior Mirage" theory has long been debunked as far as the Titanic was concerned. There are other related threads on ET.
 
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Aurélien WOLFF

Aurélien WOLFF

Member
note that on his video, he clearly state its his opinion, for me even without the false horizon, an iceberg would still be verry hard to spot in a clear dark night without a moon and I'm not sure the star would help a lot either.
 
Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

Member
Note that on his video, he clearly state its his opinion, for me even without the false horizon, an iceberg would still be verry hard to spot in a clear dark night without a moon and I'm not sure the star would help a lot either.
Sam Pence is right in that on a night such as the one that the Titanic encountered, the iceberg would have been harder than they thought to spot in time. But a "false horizon", "superior mirage" or any other kind of optical illusion had nothing to do with it. Even though there was no moon, the night was very clear and visibility apparently excellent. But one important factor was the "sea of glass" phenomenon, where the ocean was unusually still - the "flat calm" conditions that Captain Smith and Lightoller discussed about around 9 pm.

I have read that one of the things that helped the lookouts to spot an iceberg in the distance was that under usual conditions, there were small waves that generated a whitish foam when they struck the base of the part of the iceberg above the surface. On that particular night however, the unusually flat and calm nature of the sea resulted in the absence of such waves, thus rendering spotting the berg more difficult.

There is also the fact that human depth perception at night is relatively poor, especially in relation to a closing object. Training only helps to improve that to a limited extent.
 
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