How the break-up occurred

Kyle Naber

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The problem with that account is that it comes from a newspaper report from the 'The Manchester Guardian', and it has been pointed out to me several times on this forum that newspaper reports don't count.

Fred Barrett was in lifeboat 13. Here are other survivor accounts from lifeboat 13 that were also mentioned in the newspapers.



Doctor Dodge
"A series of loud explosions, three or four in number."

Mr. Littlejohn
"There were two or three explosions"

Mr. Tenglin
"Shortly afterward came two explosions"

Miss Dowdell
"Then there was one great explosion. I guessed it was the boilers."

Mr. Burgess
"Explosions of the boilers"

Ruth Becker
"There was an awful explosion of the boilers bursting and then the ship seemed to break right down the middle."

Mary Glynn
"There was a terrific explosion, which threw the water in a turmoil, and fragments of the ship were hurled high into the air. I supposed the boilers had exploded."



.
Isn't that what it would sound like as an entire ocean liner split apart?
 

Bill Vanek

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I will present what I call the "Hinge Theory". I know that others have already introduced this concept. But I couldn't find the articles again, so I just looked at the debris field and the survivors' accounts, and started over.

PRINCIPLES TO KEEP IN MIND

PRINCIPLE ONE: Events happening slowly in water generate very little friction to stop large objects from moving.

The biggest lesson from that principle is that as the Titanic was sinking, it was also drifting in the direction that it had last been going--from Northeast to Southwest. That’s Newton’s First Law regarding objects in motion staying in motion. It’s quite understandable that a ship of this size and speed would have had a momentum that was more responsible for its location changes than the ocean current. “All Stop” on the engine order telegraph did not stop the ship; it stopped only the propellers.

The second lesson is that any movement of one large piece of the ship would cause bounce, wobble, teeter-totter, roll, etc., in another piece. For every action, there would be a reaction that could be sensed in some way (seen, heard, felt) by people. It’s Newton’s Third Law about actions and reactions. Water would allow the momentum of the ship parts to have larger-than-expected effects.

A less obvious point is that the ship was the source of all movements of the water. The ocean itself was ‘mill-pond still’ that night. So, any eyewitness accounts of “a big wave” or “water rushing toward us” or “the stern spinning around” meant that the ship itself had caused those phenomena, not the natural environment. Stated in terms of Newton’s Second Law: the ship was the source of force which accelerated the water’s mass.


PRINCIPLE TWO: Consider the “power sources” for all things that happened.

The most obvious power source is gravity, which of course pulls down on all objects. But things that are lighter than water (ship compartments with air inside, if they are below water level) are forced upward via gravity trying to pull water into their place—which we perceive as buoyancy. Gravity downward, buoyancy upward: these opposing forces on such huge masses had high energy potential. They were the two primary sources of movement during the sinking.

Carrying further the idea of potential energy: the elastic bending of man-made structures away from their as-built geometry stores energy that, at the moment of relief, results in things moving rapidly and loudly. And when something finally breaks free, its movement will be influenced by the last thing that was attached to it. In simplistic terms: it took energy and noise to make the ship’s structure, so energy applied to unmaking it would cause reactive motion and noise.

Another power supply was burning coal. Fire might be uncontrolled and causing problems, or controlled and doing work, as it was doing in the bottom of all the boilers. As long as boiler feedwater and fire continued, there would be steam power. And steam meant electric power being generated. So the duration of the ship’s lights staying lighted informs us about electrical power, which therefore informs us about steam, which tells us that we had feedwater flow into hot boilers as the power source. That information is of little importance in this treatise, though.


PRINCIPLE THREE: During such a catastrophic, high-stress event, and in the dark, people will get their stories messed up. A lot has already been written about this topic, so the only thing that I’ll point out is that Newton’s Laws and the derived principles mentioned above are what must be used to interpret what people actually saw and heard…or thought they saw and heard. So, taking a primary focus on Newton’s Laws, water, and a heavy ship, here is my theory regarding how the ship broke and sank.


There has been a lot of questioning about whether the breaking was top-down or bottom-up. Why couldn’t it have been both? Who says that the break had to go all the way through the ship, all at once? I believe that there was not a complete parting at first, with the reinforced center section in the region of deck D not failing initially.

The top-down failure was seen and heard by many. They saw the ship open up, and heard the rapid “bang-bang-bang-bang” that was probably decks snapping away from the so-called “forward tower section”, as we’ve come to call that large chunk of debris. One man called it “four reports”, while another called it a “volley of musketry”. It stands to reason that it was the top four decks breaking in sequence, and then that break path stopping. It happened ahead of the third funnel initially. Later the ship broke below the after expansion joint, and further aft, creating the “aft tower” piece.

Likewise, there is ample physical evidence that the keel failed, as well as computational modeling that the double bottom failed in buckling mode. I contend that the two keel pieces folded outward/downward, away from the ship, and remained connected to the ship and to each other for some short time. Now, if the two large keel pieces had had no other influence on them, their buckling would have been instantaneous, as buckling usually is; however, there was the rest of the hull that had to break, buckle, compress, and tear. Furthermore, there were the ship’s internals (as just one example, the row of single-ended boilers) that were in the way. All of that metal had to be forced forward, because in compression it was an overlapping failure between the stern and bow. So the crushing wasn’t instantaneous, but took many seconds. All of this corresponds to what people heard. The loudest, sharpest noise—so loud that it sounded like an explosion, or chinaware breaking—would have indicated the first snapping/breaking of strong steel hull plates; and it would have been followed by the noise of crushing in the region below decks D and E, and with ripping sounds from above those intact levels. An observer topside would have heard the upper decks coming apart; someone inside the ship would likely have heard the louder effects down low; and people in lifeboats would have heard it all. These two vertical fractures could have happened at the same time and yet not connect to each other. There was a bottom-up break at the forward end of the single-ended boilers, and there was a top-down break, forward of the No. 3 funnel’s riser, but there was no impetus for breaking the center yet; it was the neutral axis of the bending hull. So, “breaking” did not mean “parting”. People have used those two words synonymously, but breaking open and breaking in half are two different things.

There are several things that may be understood from such a scenario. The first is that Titanic was broken into pieces and was still held together around its girth. It would fulfill how some of the witnesses asserted that it did not break up, and others who were just as certain that it did, at this point in the disaster. It was a “both/and” situation, not “either/or”.

Also important is that the stern would have dropped, but stopped, due to pivoting about a relatively intact and flexible center at the deck D region. The stern section did not fall from a high angle and splash into the ocean. Although the rudder and screws were visible, the aft half of the ship was still partially in the water, and buoyant there, due to the ship going down by the bow. If the stern didn’t part off, but cracked loose at the top and bottom, its pivoting movement would be limited. Any remaining intact portions of upper decks would provide a bit of tensile strength against such a pivot, but the primary limitation on movement would have been from the compression action occurring below deck E. Decks and walls had to buckle and break; the fixed engines would have pushed the boilers forward into the coal bunkers, etc.; and strong hull plates would have had to either buckle by cracking and folding outward, or would split and misalign enough to allow the stern and bow portions to “telescope” into each other. All of this compression-oriented demolition would not be instantaneous, and would result in lots of noise. Colonel Gracie summed it up: “it was partly a roar, partly a groan, partly a rattle, and partly a smash, and it was not a sudden roar as an explosion would be; it went on successively for some seconds, possibly fifteen or twenty.” And this compressive portion of failure would not be readily seen because it would be happening on the black hull of the ship, below deck E, with a lot under water. The lights went out in the forward half at this time, indicating the cutting of the main electrical supply. People off the ship who could discern its silhouette against the stars might readily notice the top portion opening up—although it would have to be people directly abreast to see the openings clearly enough to characterize them as if “cut with a knife.” Anyone viewing from an angle would see a silhouette that looked hog-backed (hump-backed) and apparently contiguous. But nobody was able to see what was happening down low on the ship. Everyone’s vision was limited in some way, which would explain the differing descriptions given for the condition of the ship at this time.

A limited movement of the stern would also mean that a huge wave would not form. A small wave would have formed, but its passage past each lifeboat would have been inconsequential compared to what was happening to the breaking ship and screaming passengers at that time.

The stern’s momentum would have had a huge influence on the bow piece—with nothing but water to hinder movement. The heavy stern pivoting down and forward, below deck E, would push the bow forward, and up, in reaction. This movement and reaction would explain survivors’ impression that the bow “seemed to start forward, moving forward and into the water at an angle” and how it ‘came up again’—not because of its own buoyancy, which was mostly gone, but by the power source of the stern’s mass times velocity being absorbed by crushing into the bow section. This rising of the bow, along with a momentary plunge happening amidships, would have been quite amazing to any observer—hence the exaggerated accounts of it, such as Thayer’s sketches. From my experience with vibrating machinery and piping, I know that large objects that move are perceived by an observer as moving a lot more than they actually do. I once measured and found an 8:1 ratio for perceived versus actual.

With the breaking, the ‘action/reaction’ effects would continue in the ship. A bobbing effect from the just-described momentum action could certainly have occurred, causing the bow to sink back down below sea level, and the stern to bob up and down depending on what breaking and crushing was happening in the break-up zone. A brief V-shape appearance could have happened as part of the bobbing and moving, depending on an observer’s position.

The two broken keel pieces might have somewhat restored themselves, being pulled to nearly their original orientation, during such bobbing, or might have fallen off; but they would almost certainly come off by the next compressive motion due to bobbing or twisting, at the latest. All I can guess is that they would have torn loose very soon in the break-up motions.

The break-up zone would begin to primarily tear due to tension and twist from the bow continuing to sink and the stern still being mostly buoyant. Upper decks would incur more widespread destruction, being above the neutral axis of bending. Asymmetry in the structural failures could cause more action on one side of the ship than the other, such that up/down and sideways motions would be seen in silhouette as “writhing”, or seen/felt as listing and righting again. The two huge forces of buoyancy and sinking continued to ‘fight’ each other, and the greatly weakened structure would become even more prone to various movements. Eventually, the central region of the stronger hull band and what remained of the internal D and E decks would have to break. That significant fracture would account for the second loud noise that has been mentioned, and could account for Joughin’s, “she gave a great list over to port and threw everybody in a bunch”.

As the last ligaments were tearing loose because of the bow sinking, the stern would become steadily more free of the influence of the bow. Regardless of the amount of list, its fantail end would settle back down, and its forward end, detaching from the sinking bow, would come back up somewhat. And the last ‘tug’ on the stern from the final connecting piece breaking would influence the stern’s movement. All of this explains how the stern appeared to right itself on an even keel (forward to aft, not port to starboard), spin lazily around a half circle of rotation, move over the place where the bow had just gone down, and finally sink as a piece of broken ship normally would—by turning up on end and going down steeply. The main point of this paragraph is that the final movements of the stern illustrate the aft part of the ship being fully free of the fore part. The ship did part completely while still on the surface.

The debris on the ocean floor supports this theory when viewed from Northeast to Southwest like a physical timeline. First there is the deckhouse debris, and then the two pieces of the double bottom, which together mark when the top-down / bottom-up splitting happened. Debris begins to increase in quantity as the ship drifted Southwest and was slowly pulling itself apart. Boilers and an engine dropped out once their remaining connections were ruined and the two ship halves pulled apart sufficiently. It seems that the ship had gotten turned pointing approximately NNW by this time, because when it finally pulled completely apart, the so-called “forward tower” chunk and a second reciprocating engine fell out, marking that location slightly to the Northwest of the first engine piece and boilers. Now separated, the bow began planing Northward toward its final resting place, and the stern disappeared within minutes, dropping with practically no impetus for spinning.

To understand the locations of items on the ocean floor, a piece of wreckage must be evaluated in regard to its ratio of hydrodynamics to weight. The higher that ratio, the more horizontal movement that would occur during the vertical drop. A light item like a lump of coal would be influenced a good bit by the Labrador current, and would move farther horizontally on its way down. A dish is heavier than coal, but might flutter like a piece of cardboard that has been tossed out of a high window, delaying its downward motion, and thus having more current-related drift than a clock or a wine bottle. The two keel pieces are an interesting example of parts that were definitely joined when at the surface, but ended up some 500-700 feet apart on the ocean bottom; so there was clearly some hydrodynamic and friction effect at play due to their shape, even though the pieces were very heavy. The bow was a similar example of that. By contrast, a boiler, an engine, the huge “towers” of debris, and the deckhouse debris probably went nearly straight down, with only minimal effect from the current. It is sheer conjecture to think that the deckhouse debris now sitting to the Northeast was “slung” a few thousand feet horizontally from a rapidly spinning stern section. (Of all the points on the compass that it could have been slung, why there? What a coincidence that would be.) It is far more likely that the deckhouse hunk was ejected overboard at the initial, violent fracture of the ship.

Gravity and buoyancy were the two primary power sources determining the ship’s movements, along with the inertia, momentum, and breaking reactions as the ship was forcibly changed from its as-built shape. The variety of these forces resulted in the wide-ranging survivor testimonies and debris that we are able to examine today. But the debris field is a more reliable witness than any of the people who were under such stress in the dark that night, so their statements must be reinterpreted to align with the physical evidence. This theory could tie all of that evidence together.
 
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Kyle Naber

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Also important is that the stern would have dropped, but stopped, due to pivoting about a relatively intact and flexible center at the deck D region.
Are you proposing that the stern began to settle, but stalled before it fully fell back due to some intact decks in the middle?
 

Bill Vanek

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Nope. Picture the band around D and E decks staying intact, and the decks inside remaining primarily intact, as a pivot point between the top and bottom of the ship. The top would be subject to tension; it would pull apart; and once something split apart, it would have air where a weld or rivet had been, and could exert no more resistance to the stern pivoting down. BUT, below decks D and E, the pivot would be the opposite: the hull, decks, machinery, etc. would have to crush together. The more of that movement that occurs, the less air there is; machinery, boilers, bulkheads, frames, and decks all must crush together. All of that steel that was "in the way" would have to break with loud noise, but would act like a 'crumple zone' on a car, for wrecks. At some point in the pivot action, the stern would run out of room to move forward into the bow half. It is that forward movement that I believe nobody has reckoned with before, and which I think caused the bow half to move forward/down at first, and then pivot up out of the water (all of these movements were testified about). Everyone has tried to explain those movements in terms of buoyancy and flooding patterns--or even explain things away ("it was impossible for the bow to rise above the surface again" was said by a few people on this website). Jack Thayer's sketches are exaggerated; heck, the first one shows the ship going up over the iceberg, so that the first clue that the sketches were sensationalism by Thayer, the artist helper, or both. So the sketch of the bow pointing up at 45 degrees, and the stern pointing the opposite way at 45 degrees, with nothing but water in between, never happened. But the concept did happen: the bow poked up through the water's surface once, after having sunk under. That's the factual part of the sensational reports. I think that I've theorized how that could have happened.

Thanks for your comments and questions.
 
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Looking for some real (or maybe not) forensic discussion, go to Youtube and search for "the front fell off full version." You'll go to a discussion the likes of which...well, just watch.

--- David G. Brown
 

mitfrc

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Mr Vanek, first of all I thank you for the enormous effort you put into that post. It was altogether quite detailed and followed most of the principles of physics governing the situation. However, in regard to the idea of the stern pushing the bow back up, I feel that you are disregarding the impact of the acceleration of gravity once the separation has begun. As long as the hull is forming a coupled system, but only gravity and buoyancy are acting on both sections of that coupled system, the acceleration of the stern, while it might produce a concentrated force on the bow, cannot, by definition, exceed the acceleration of the bow. Both are being acted on by gravity only. So the idea of the bow rising does not make sense, because the bow is being accelerated downwards (continuous across the entire length) by the same force accelerating the stern. The stern certainly pivoted so the forward section went down, and that quite possibly pushed the rear of the bow further down as well. However, it could not rotate the ship's bow back up because the ship's bow is also being accelerated by gravity, having no buoyancy left to resist it. There is no anchor or hinge around which the bow can rotate -- as you note, there is only water.

However, the situation is worse when we consider that in a sinking geometry the added mass of the bow would be substantially greater than its mass--which means that the stern, in a rotating geometry, would be providing comparatively little additional force to the enormous kinetic energy the bow had already begun to accrue as it accelerated downwards. This enormous increase in kinetic energy while sinking in a water column from added mass is part of why Titanic suffered such heavy damage on impact with the bottom.
 
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Bill Vanek

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I think that I must not have explained myself well enough. While gravity is certainly acting upon the bow piece all the time, and having steadily more effect on it as it fills with water and loses buoyancy, its velocity is very low. Plus, there is still buoyancy amidships. That is, the bow is approaching being dead weight; the stern that is out of the water is dead weight; and yet the ship is still on the surface, illustrating what we know to be true: its middle is still buoyant. That middle is the only thing really holding up the ship at such a point. It is like a teeter-totter: supported in the middle, and mostly balanced end to end, but slowly going down by the bow, and up at the stern. It is at this point that the loading amidships would break the ship. Above the neutral axis of bending, it would be tension, and would do nothing to resist the stern; on the contrary, the snapping apart would impart an aft motion to the aft half of the ship, and a forward motion to the forward half.
But that is only part of the story. If the ship did hold together in the region of decks C to E, and the bottom keel buckled out, the weight of the stern (basically, half the weight of the whole ship) would go down due to gravity...but there would be an axial component to that movement, pushing the bow forward on the 15- or 20-degree angle that it was pointing down at the moment. And the rest of the stern's velocity component is downward. If we go down on one end of a teeter-totter, the other end goes up.
We have to ask ourselves what in the world would be strong enough to raise up the half-flooded forward half of a ship. People on this website have been offering many flooding- and buoyancy-based reasons--none of which are strong enough to raise a flooded ship. The answer is that the stern is the same weight; it is in balance (initially) with the bow; and it moves suddenly, down and forward. That would be sufficient energy to push the bow forward (on its angle) and trim it back to the surface for 10 seconds or so. Then it would sink back again, never to return. Getting back to gravity: gravity is pulling on all the steel of the bow half with the same force as all of the steel of the stern half. Buoyancy in the center represents a fulcrum. The equation changes when the potential energy (due to elevation) held in the stern is turned into crushing energy down low on the ship.

Picture a crusher that smashes old cars into blocks. It takes a powerful machine to do so--and for simplicity, let's assume only a horizontal crush, with no vertical smashing device. All of the horsepower goes into deforming the car. Now picture a failure scenario that changes everything halfway through the operation: the wall opposite the smashing machinery starts giving way. There is suddenly less reaction force to hold that end of the car. Not only would the crushing machinery keep applying force, but the car and the failing wall would move in the same direction. This analogy explains the forces at play during the 15 or 20 seconds of crushing action that the stern would have been doing at Boiler rooms 1 and 2. It would be breaking hull plates, decks, walls, and hull frames. It would be a dynamic system, where it was quasi-static just beforehand. There was practically no velocity downward by the bow initially. So thousands of tons of stern moving suddenly would be the biggest power source in the whole teeter-totter, and would cause a reaction.

Have you and a friend ever balanced on a teeter-totter? I did so, back in grade school. We would sit for minutes at a time--either level or not--but balanced. It was only when one of us moved that something would happen. If I would have carefully stood up on my end, and if it were humanly possible to drop my body onto my end without ever letting it get away from exerting its weight (that is, never losing contact during my fall), my mass times my velocity would have struck my end of the system, and that energy would be used to lift my friend's side somewhat, because there was only air resistance to his movement--despite the fact that he weighed 90 pounds and gravity was pulling on him. He would have no momentum for me to overcome when I did all the initial moving. Even though gravitational attraction were acting evenly on the two of us, that is not what we should look at once the movement begins.

In a balanced system (as was the Titanic at that moment), the change came from the 'new' movement introduced. The only thing that would keep the bow from rising would be the water friction--which I will grant would be significant against the flat decks. Nevertheless, there were more tons going down on the stern end of the balance than there was water friction on the bow end.

Remember: the bow had just sunk enough to get water up to the boat deck where a man was trying to cut loose a collapsible boat that was lashed there. The ship suddenly thrust forward and down; water washed over the boat deck; people were washed from the boat deck, and many ended up down where the sunken well deck was; and the man (who held onto a winch) looked down from the boat deck and saw people flailing around in the flooded well deck. So the bow did rise up enough to be seen, forward of the well deck, even if the well deck never came up all the way. It did happen; we have to try to understand how it could happen; and the only thing powerful enough would have been the stern (and not buoyancy or shifting water inside the bow).

I must go to sleep now. Tomorrow we can take this up again, as needed. Good night to you.
 
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Kyle Naber

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I think that I must not have explained myself well enough. While gravity is certainly acting upon the bow piece all the time, and having steadily more effect on it as it fills with water and loses buoyancy, its velocity is very low. Plus, there is still buoyancy amidships. That is, the bow is approaching being dead weight; the stern that is out of the water is dead weight; and yet the ship is still on the surface, illustrating what we know to be true: its middle is still buoyant. That middle is the only thing really holding up the ship at such a point. It is like a teeter-totter: supported in the middle, and mostly balanced end to end, but slowly going down by the bow, and up at the stern. It is at this point that the loading amidships would break the ship. Above the neutral axis of bending, it would be tension, and would do nothing to resist the stern; on the contrary, the snapping apart would impart an aft motion to the aft half of the ship, and a forward motion to the forward half.
But that is only part of the story. If the ship did hold together in the region of decks C to E, and the bottom keel buckled out, the weight of the stern (basically, half the weight of the whole ship) would go down due to gravity...but there would be an axial component to that movement, pushing the bow forward on the 15- or 20-degree angle that it was pointing down at the moment. And the rest of the stern's velocity component is downward. If we go down on one end of a teeter-totter, the other end goes up.
We have to ask ourselves what in the world would be strong enough to raise up the half-flooded forward half of a ship. People on this website have been offering many flooding- and buoyancy-based reasons--none of which are strong enough to raise a flooded ship. The answer is that the stern is the same weight; it is in balance (initially) with the bow; and it moves suddenly, down and forward. That would be sufficient energy to push the bow forward (on its angle) and trim it back to the surface for 10 seconds or so. Then it would sink back again, never to return. Getting back to gravity: gravity is pulling on all the steel of the bow half with the same force as all of the steel of the stern half. Buoyancy in the center represents a fulcrum. The equation changes when the potential energy (due to elevation) held in the stern is turned into crushing energy down low on the ship.

Picture a crusher that smashes old cars into blocks. It takes a powerful machine to do so--and for simplicity, let's assume only a horizontal crush, with no vertical smashing device. All of the horsepower goes into deforming the car. Now picture a failure scenario that changes everything halfway through the operation: the wall opposite the smashing machinery starts giving way. There is suddenly less reaction force to hold that end of the car. Not only would the crushing machinery keep applying force, but the car and the failing wall would move in the same direction. This analogy explains the forces at play during the 15 or 20 seconds of crushing action that the stern would have been doing at Boiler rooms 1 and 2. It would be breaking hull plates, decks, walls, and hull frames. It would be a dynamic system, where it was quasi-static just beforehand. There was practically no velocity downward by the bow initially. So thousands of tons of stern moving suddenly would be the biggest power source in the whole teeter-totter, and would cause a reaction.

Have you and a friend ever balanced on a teeter-totter? I did so, back in grade school. We would sit for minutes at a time--either level or not--but balanced. It was only when one of us moved that something would happen. If I would have carefully stood up on my end, and if it were humanly possible to drop my body onto my end without ever letting it get away from exerting its weight (that is, never losing contact during my fall), my mass times my velocity would have struck my end of the system, and that energy would be used to lift my friend's side somewhat, because there was only air resistance to his movement--despite the fact that he weighed 90 pounds and gravity was pulling on him. He would have no momentum for me to overcome when I did all the initial moving. Even though gravitational attraction were acting evenly on the two of us, that is not what we should look at once the movement begins.

In a balanced system (as was the Titanic at that moment), the change came from the 'new' movement introduced. The only thing that would keep the bow from rising would be the water friction--which I will grant would be significant against the flat decks. Nevertheless, there were more tons going down on the stern end of the balance than there was water friction on the bow end.

Remember: the bow had just sunk enough to get water up to the boat deck where a man was trying to cut loose a collapsible boat that was lashed there. The ship suddenly thrust forward and down; water washed over the boat deck; people were washed from the boat deck, and many ended up down where the sunken well deck was; and the man (who held onto a winch) looked down from the boat deck and saw people flailing around in the flooded well deck. So the bow did rise up enough to be seen, forward of the well deck, even if the well deck never came up all the way. It did happen; we have to try to understand how it could happen; and the only thing powerful enough would have been the stern (and not buoyancy or shifting water inside the bow).

I must go to sleep now. Tomorrow we can take this up again, as needed. Good night
to you.
Correct me if I’m getting this all wrong, but you’re saying the force of the stern coming down on the bow caused the bow to progress forward with such velocity that it lifted up for a moment? The same phenomenon that occurs when you hit the accelerator suddenly on your car?
 

Bill Vanek

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I like your car accelerator example. So I'll say 'yes' to that as part of my answer. But that part is only the "forward" part--the thing where witnesses felt the ship thrust forward under their feet, in the direction of its sunken angle at that moment. However, the "up" direction was different. The bow going up would be the reaction to the stern going down. The buoyant place in the center of the ship was the fulcrum (although it was a squishy fulcrum). The down action of the stern was one component of its movement, and its forward component was smaller. The small forward component of stern movement thrust the bow at its angle--hence the boat deck suddenly flooding. But the downward component of the stern's movement would have then raised the bow, in reaction, up to the surface--hence the testimonies that the bow rose again. Yet it didn't stay above the surface; it was only a one-time thing. That short event would make sense, considering that the stern breaking and pivoting downward would be a one-time thing. (The break-up activity after that would be much more oriented toward pulling apart axially, and also via twisting, as the bow sank.) The keel breaking in compression would allow the stern to drop (that's the downward component of movement) and crush in toward the bow (that's the axial component, like your accelerator example). Just as a fun guess, maybe the downward energy was like 90% of the total available, and the axial component 10%. Regardless of the actual numbers, there was a lot of potential energy released when the ship broke, and my point is that the potential energy turned into kinetic energy, moving the bow.
 

Bill Vanek

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mitfrc,

You're talking about a different time compared to me. Your words, "once the separation has begun" and "the enormous kinetic energy the bow had already begun to accrue as it accelerated downwards", talk about sometime else. Those happened minutes later, in my theory.

Also, if the ship in the plane of deck D, plus or minus a deck, stayed basically intact at the initial break (the simultaneous top break and bottom break), that would be the pivot point for controlling the stern's movement. That was a physical pivot point.

The bow still had some buoyancy. Any part still having air AND being below the water's surface had buoyancy. So the fulcrum for the reaction was the buoyant middle. So I'm differentiating between the center of rotation of the stern's movement (a physical, metal location) as compared to the fulcrum between the stern and the bow for whole-ship movement (the squishy buoyant location amidships). I think that you're considering those two different things together in my language, but I was not.

Also, once water got into the bow, it did not make it "heavier". Water simply took away buoyancy. As an experiment, take a bucket and hold it by the handle. Let's say it weighs 8 ounces. Now fill it with water. It'll weigh something like 8 pounds. Climb down into a swimming pool, and let that bucket with its water go below the surface. The only force on the bucket that you will feel is the 8 ounces of weight of the bucket, not the 8 pounds of water that is inside of it. That water is irrelevant; it is not adding to the weight of the steel of the ship. So if Titanic's 20,000-ton stern moved down, all it would have to lift on the other end of the teeter-totter is the 20,000 tons of bow. Not until the water contained in the bow broke the surface would it be seen as weight; and that would indeed "put the brakes on" the bow continuing to rise.
 

mitfrc

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Mr. Vanek, Added Mass is not actually weight, and it is not caused by water flooding into the ship. It is a descriptive term of the practical impact (in Naval Architecture terms) of the inertia conferred on a body because it must move some volume of the fluid surrounding it. Added mass is a very important concept in naval architecture and your system is not complete without considering the impact of it. Respectfully, please refer to this MIT coursework:


And incorporate added mass into your theory. Then I will address it again in more detail. The stern gains added mass if it is rotating deeper into the water, and the bow gains added mass as it begins to accelerate--in any direction.

Despite saying to the contrary your theory does not rely on buoyancy, it does, since you admit you are using buoyancy at the centroid of the bow section as the actual proximate cause of an upward motion by the stem of the bow. The problem is this -- that buoyant force would have to be sufficient to hold the ship on the surface, and if the forward boiler rooms had that much buoyancy in them at that time in the sinking, Titanic would not have sunk. Otherwise, Titanic is just translating downwards with everything being accelerated at the same rate. No matter how heavy the engines are in the forward part of the stern, gravity is working at a constant rate along the entire length of the ship.

I am not talking about a different time at all, if the ship is a linked system and it has been stressed beyond failure then it is going to fail until the stress is relieved. Once the stress is relieved, the bow is sinking. Period. This argument is just a variation of the one Aaron made and the same refutations apply.
 
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Bill Vanek

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Jul 22, 2019
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Mr. Vanek, Added Mass is not actually weight, and it is not caused by water flooding into the ship. It is a descriptive term of the practical impact (in Naval Architecture terms) of the inertia conferred on a body because it must move some volume of the fluid surrounding it. Added mass is a very important concept in naval architecture and your system is not complete without considering the impact of it. Respectfully, please refer to this MIT coursework:


And incorporate added mass into your theory. Then I will address it again in more detail. The stern gains added mass if it is rotating deeper into the water, and the bow gains added mass as it begins to accelerate--in any direction.

Despite saying to the contrary your theory does not rely on buoyancy, it does, since you admit you are using buoyancy at the centroid of the bow section as the actual proximate cause of an upward motion by the stem of the bow. The problem is this -- that buoyant force would have to be sufficient to hold the ship on the surface, and if the forward boiler rooms had that much buoyancy in them at that time in the sinking, Titanic would not have sunk. Otherwise, Titanic is just translating downwards with everything being accelerated at the same rate. No matter how heavy the engines are in the forward part of the stern, gravity is working at a constant rate along the entire length of the ship.

I am not talking about a different time at all, if the ship is a linked system and it has been stressed beyond failure then it is going to fail until the stress is relieved. Once the stress is relieved, the bow is sinking. Period. This argument is just a variation of the one Aaron made and the same refutations apply.
I read the hydrodynamics treatise. I think that I can address all of your concerns.

1. The treatise is using mathematical shorthand to describe friction. Water's friction on a moving body is a force. The treatise was using mass times acceleration as the alternative to expressing it as a force. So the "added mass" is not a real mass (like iron), as you rightly mentioned, but part of a method of expressing force in terms of mass, so that the mass could be included in the natural frequency calculation and in the various matrices that followed. So the friction is expressed as that psuedo-mass times acceleration with the goal of accommodating the effect of acceleration (shown as the double-dotted 'x' in the equations) due to a ship's pitch, yaw, and roll. Fair enough...for ships under way or pitching in seas, with significant accelerations that must be accounted for in order to design a ship for its toughest conditions. By contrast, I'm talking about a stern movement which, during the initial keel break, would not cause a high velocity in the bow at all. That is, "x double dot" and "x dot" would be small, so the friction force would be small--especially relative to the size of the actual masses in play (two halves of a giant ship). Actually, I did account for the friction from moving the bow up through the seawater. I said that the bow would move "with nothing but water to hinder movement". I didn't think it necessary to spell it out as, "with nothing but the friction of the water to hinder movement"; I thought it was obvious. We have no need to convert that friction force into an "added mass" times its acceleration to understand its exact value. In more simple terms, I merely contend that the friction forces of the water resisting the bow rising were less than the applied force causing it to rise. That's not a big stretch, and it doesn't need to be computed. The movement upward had to have had more force than the friction forces, so that the bow moved up. The fact that eyewitnesses say that the bow broached the surface after having sunk tells us that something made that happen. I'm positing that it was the immense mass of the stern that made it happen, and not some flooding or buoyancy action.

2. And that brings me to my second point. I did not bring the bow's remaining buoyancy into the discussion to claim that it had a lifting effect on the bow. Even though there was some buoyancy remaining, I didn't bank on it at all. Rather, I mentioned it in order to illustrate that the center of the ship was still buoyant. At that point in time, the ship had not sunk; it was still on the surface; and that buoyancy was due to any air within that was below sea level. That "air underwater" situation would not be true for a big portion of the stern (the part out of the water), nor for the flooded part of the bow; each of those portions were dead weight--just iron. More importantly, they were opposite ends of a giant teeter-totter, whose fulcrum was the buoyant center portion of the ship. The center fulcrum was my only reason for bringing up buoyancy.

3. Likewise, I didn't deal with the centroid of the bow, because that is irrelevant. I treated the bow as a generalized mass--20,000 tons of steel forward of the pivot point (the center of the ship)--and the stern likewise.

4. Although gravity is a force exerted equally along the ship, it is wrong to say that all of the ship was "just translating downwards with everything being accelerated at the same rate." First of all, at the time of the break-up, the stern was slowly moving upward, and the bow was slowly creeping downward, illustrating the "teeter-totter" that I've been speaking of. So they were not behaving the same at all. Furthermore, those weights were counterbalancing each other, for all practical purposes; the ship had no big velocity or acceleration at that point. So velocity--and especially the acceleration of gravity--are irrelevant when it comes to the bow and stern balancing each other. But that situation is not my primary focus. Rather, it is merely the lead-up: it shows how the stern rose up sufficiently to (a) become unsupported enough to overstress and break, and (b) gain a whole lot of potential energy due to its elevation. Those are the main points. That potential energy was the only power source that night which would have been large enough to move the bow, because the stern half was roughly comparable in mass to the bow half.

5. I didn't bring up the weight of the engines. That is irrelevant. They are just part of the mass of the stern.

6. It is not true that "once the stress [of mechanical crushing, tearing, etc.] is relieved, the bow is sinking. Period." You haven't taken momentum into account. The enormous mass of the stern multiplied by its small velocity downward and forward had only (a) the steel of the failing ship parts, and (b) the friction of the water once the bow started moving, to stand it its way. The bow-versus-stern balance changed when all of that stern mass went in motion and imparted energy to bend and break metal in the bow. If two boys sit on opposite ends of a teeter-totter, balanced such that the plank is stationary, or almost so, and someone walks up and pounds his fist down onto one end, that end will go down, and the other end up--all very slowly, and in reaction commensurate to the extra energy that was imparted to the previously balanced system. The balance is thrown off--even if just for a short time, and with small speed and acceleration.

So I'm saying that the quasi-static balancing act that was going on suddenly changed when the breaks occurred top and bottom, leaving a physical axis (pivot point) in the vicinity of deck D for the stern to rotate downward and forward about it. The larger vector in that movement would be downward, and the smaller vector would be forward. That would explain why the bow was described by people aboard it as "she seemed to start forward, moving forward and into the water at an angle of about 15 degrees. This movement, with the water rushing up toward us…" and "she seemed to take a bit of a dive" and "This movement, with the water rushing up toward us, was accompanied by a rumbling roar". That's the smaller forward component. The larger action/reaction component--stern down, bow up--was described variously as "She rose again slightly" and "suddenly her nose, on which I was, seemed to suddenly rise from underneath the water". The more sensational versions were, "I saw the ship split open. At the same time the ship's bow rose up in the air..." and Jack Thayer's sketch on the Carpathia, showing the bow angled up at 45 degrees, the stern down at 45 degrees, and nothing but water in the middle, like a half-submerged V. I'm not going that far; I think that the forecastle just broached the surface, and only for some seconds, before sinking forever. That moment would have been so astounding to the few people who saw it that it could easily become sensationalized in the retelling. And I'm not defending the "rising again" just because I think it's way better than some of the other sensational anecdotes from that night; instead, I'm seeing it as a piece of evidence that describes the stern's initial movement, and therefore its initial failure mode.

I hope that this jabbering of mine clarifies what I've been theorizing. I'm putting forth these ideas because nobody seems to have a good reason for the ship "starting forward" or "rising again". And there is hardly any accounting for the crushing action that would have happened in the region from just above the keel, up to around deck E, due to the two large keel pieces buckling; most animated simulations show a large chunk of the hull simply dropping straight out of the bottom of the ship (how would that happen??), or simply don't deal with it at all. Many of the simulations never show the stern easing down to nearly an "even keel", looking as if it would "float altogether"; rather, they show the stern being pulled under by the bow's sinking only. And most simulations show just one catastrophic event for the break-up, as if it happened all at once. But there were at least two very loud noises that were louder than all of the other rumblings, crashes, groans, pops, etc. that went on for quite a while during the break-up, and it means (to me) that there was an initial major break followed by a second major break, with a lot of less-severe tearing apart following each. Finally, there's a lot of arguing about it being either a top-down break or a bottom-up break, and I'm saying that it was both. The bow movements help to lend support to the "both/and" theory of the break-up.
 

B-rad

Member
Jul 1, 2015
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Tacoma, WA
I read the hydrodynamics treatise. I think that I can address all of your concerns.

1. The treatise is using mathematical shorthand to describe friction. Water's friction on a moving body is a force. The treatise was using mass times acceleration as the alternative to expressing it as a force. So the "added mass" is not a real mass (like iron), as you rightly mentioned, but part of a method of expressing force in terms of mass, so that the mass could be included in the natural frequency calculation and in the various matrices that followed. So the friction is expressed as that psuedo-mass times acceleration with the goal of accommodating the effect of acceleration (shown as the double-dotted 'x' in the equations) due to a ship's pitch, yaw, and roll. Fair enough...for ships under way or pitching in seas, with significant accelerations that must be accounted for in order to design a ship for its toughest conditions. By contrast, I'm talking about a stern movement which, during the initial keel break, would not cause a high velocity in the bow at all. That is, "x double dot" and "x dot" would be small, so the friction force would be small--especially relative to the size of the actual masses in play (two halves of a giant ship). Actually, I did account for the friction from moving the bow up through the seawater. I said that the bow would move "with nothing but water to hinder movement". I didn't think it necessary to spell it out as, "with nothing but the friction of the water to hinder movement"; I thought it was obvious. We have no need to convert that friction force into an "added mass" times its acceleration to understand its exact value. In more simple terms, I merely contend that the friction forces of the water resisting the bow rising were less than the applied force causing it to rise. That's not a big stretch, and it doesn't need to be computed. The movement upward had to have had more force than the friction forces, so that the bow moved up. The fact that eyewitnesses say that the bow broached the surface after having sunk tells us that something made that happen. I'm positing that it was the immense mass of the stern that made it happen, and not some flooding or buoyancy action.

2. And that brings me to my second point. I did not bring the bow's remaining buoyancy into the discussion to claim that it had a lifting effect on the bow. Even though there was some buoyancy remaining, I didn't bank on it at all. Rather, I mentioned it in order to illustrate that the center of the ship was still buoyant. At that point in time, the ship had not sunk; it was still on the surface; and that buoyancy was due to any air within that was below sea level. That "air underwater" situation would not be true for a big portion of the stern (the part out of the water), nor for the flooded part of the bow; each of those portions were dead weight--just iron. More importantly, they were opposite ends of a giant teeter-totter, whose fulcrum was the buoyant center portion of the ship. The center fulcrum was my only reason for bringing up buoyancy.

3. Likewise, I didn't deal with the centroid of the bow, because that is irrelevant. I treated the bow as a generalized mass--20,000 tons of steel forward of the pivot point (the center of the ship)--and the stern likewise.

4. Although gravity is a force exerted equally along the ship, it is wrong to say that all of the ship was "just translating downwards with everything being accelerated at the same rate." First of all, at the time of the break-up, the stern was slowly moving upward, and the bow was slowly creeping downward, illustrating the "teeter-totter" that I've been speaking of. So they were not behaving the same at all. Furthermore, those weights were counterbalancing each other, for all practical purposes; the ship had no big velocity or acceleration at that point. So velocity--and especially the acceleration of gravity--are irrelevant when it comes to the bow and stern balancing each other. But that situation is not my primary focus. Rather, it is merely the lead-up: it shows how the stern rose up sufficiently to (a) become unsupported enough to overstress and break, and (b) gain a whole lot of potential energy due to its elevation. Those are the main points. That potential energy was the only power source that night which would have been large enough to move the bow, because the stern half was roughly comparable in mass to the bow half.

5. I didn't bring up the weight of the engines. That is irrelevant. They are just part of the mass of the stern.

6. It is not true that "once the stress [of mechanical crushing, tearing, etc.] is relieved, the bow is sinking. Period." You haven't taken momentum into account. The enormous mass of the stern multiplied by its small velocity downward and forward had only (a) the steel of the failing ship parts, and (b) the friction of the water once the bow started moving, to stand it its way. The bow-versus-stern balance changed when all of that stern mass went in motion and imparted energy to bend and break metal in the bow. If two boys sit on opposite ends of a teeter-totter, balanced such that the plank is stationary, or almost so, and someone walks up and pounds his fist down onto one end, that end will go down, and the other end up--all very slowly, and in reaction commensurate to the extra energy that was imparted to the previously balanced system. The balance is thrown off--even if just for a short time, and with small speed and acceleration.

So I'm saying that the quasi-static balancing act that was going on suddenly changed when the breaks occurred top and bottom, leaving a physical axis (pivot point) in the vicinity of deck D for the stern to rotate downward and forward about it. The larger vector in that movement would be downward, and the smaller vector would be forward. That would explain why the bow was described by people aboard it as "she seemed to start forward, moving forward and into the water at an angle of about 15 degrees. This movement, with the water rushing up toward us…" and "she seemed to take a bit of a dive" and "This movement, with the water rushing up toward us, was accompanied by a rumbling roar". That's the smaller forward component. The larger action/reaction component--stern down, bow up--was described variously as "She rose again slightly" and "suddenly her nose, on which I was, seemed to suddenly rise from underneath the water". The more sensational versions were, "I saw the ship split open. At the same time the ship's bow rose up in the air..." and Jack Thayer's sketch on the Carpathia, showing the bow angled up at 45 degrees, the stern down at 45 degrees, and nothing but water in the middle, like a half-submerged V. I'm not going that far; I think that the forecastle just broached the surface, and only for some seconds, before sinking forever. That moment would have been so astounding to the few people who saw it that it could easily become sensationalized in the retelling. And I'm not defending the "rising again" just because I think it's way better than some of the other sensational anecdotes from that night; instead, I'm seeing it as a piece of evidence that describes the stern's initial movement, and therefore its initial failure mode.

I hope that this jabbering of mine clarifies what I've been theorizing. I'm putting forth these ideas because nobody seems to have a good reason for the ship "starting forward" or "rising again". And there is hardly any accounting for the crushing action that would have happened in the region from just above the keel, up to around deck E, due to the two large keel pieces buckling; most animated simulations show a large chunk of the hull simply dropping straight out of the bottom of the ship (how would that happen??), or simply don't deal with it at all. Many of the simulations never show the stern easing down to nearly an "even keel", looking as if it would "float altogether"; rather, they show the stern being pulled under by the bow's sinking only. And most simulations show just one catastrophic event for the break-up, as if it happened all at once. But there were at least two very loud noises that were louder than all of the other rumblings, crashes, groans, pops, etc. that went on for quite a while during the break-up, and it means (to me) that there was an initial major break followed by a second major break, with a lot of less-severe tearing apart following each. Finally, there's a lot of arguing about it being either a top-down break or a bottom-up break, and I'm saying that it was both. The bow movements help to lend support to the "both/and" theory of the break-up.
I agree greatly that u are on to something. I have presented diagrams that have shown similar things and highly believe the break up occurred slowly. Have recently posted an idea where the ship broke up between the hull and superstructure based on an observation but no one caught on. Keep up the good work!!!
 

Bob_Read

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May 9, 2019
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The problem with all of these break-up theories is that they are houses of cards. There are so many variables to account for that to construct a mathematical model to account for them is impossible for all practical purposes. A lot of people aren’t aware of the fact that there are many details of Titanic’s structure that we simply don’t know because the information has been lost. Add these factors together with many which we aren’t even aware of and you’ve got an impossibly complex dynamic system to try to model in order to get something with any predictive value. So what we are left with are mostly baseless explanations without much of any real foundation. Oh, the theories sound very complex and reasonable but are not grounded in the actual details of the vast complexity of that night in April of 1912.
 

Bill Vanek

Member
Jul 22, 2019
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3
North Carolina USA
I agree greatly that u are on to something. I have presented diagrams that have shown similar things and highly believe the break up occurred slowly. Have recently posted an idea where the ship broke up between the hull and superstructure based on an observation but no one caught on. Keep up the good work!!!
I would love to see your diagrams. Mine were pretty sketchy, and I don't think that I had the water level correct or the ship's angles right.
 

B-rad

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Jul 1, 2015
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I would love to see your diagrams. Mine were pretty sketchy, and I don't think that I had the water level correct or the ship's angles right.
My diagrams are terrible... lol, but I added them. It's hard to illustrate what's in my head and I gave up on trying to get any trim right or anything as I use Microsoft 'paint' mostly which is a terrible program for finetuning any art, but they are not for accuracy, just to get my ideas out.

Pretty much I believe there were three forces, one pushing the stern down, two being the air trapped inside the hull still pushing the ship up, and three the weight of the bow that was flooded. Had the ship capsized then it would have exposed a broader surface which would have enabled the forces to equalize more closely. The fact that it didn't meant that all three forces were acting against each other, and I believe that the top down and bottom up theories are both correct, which is why we see evidence of both on the wreck and the amount of 'large' pieces from various areas.

As mentioned I've recently proposed that the ship may have encountered some stress where the superstructure and the hull meet. This is more of a bottom up/superstructure up theory. That can be found here : Break up starting where the superstructure met the hull.

Anyway, as Read said we will probably never know but its fun to ponder, and a great thing to think about when falling asleep!
 

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Bill Vanek

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Jul 22, 2019
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The problem with all of these break-up theories is that they are houses of cards. There are so many variables to account for that to construct a mathematical model to account for them is impossible for all practical purposes. A lot of people aren’t aware of the fact that there are many details of Titanic’s structure that we simply don’t know because the information has been lost. Add these factors together with many which we aren’t even aware of and you’ve got an impossibly complex dynamic system to try to model in order to get something with any predictive value. So what we are left with are mostly baseless explanations without much of any real foundation. Oh, the theories sound very complex and reasonable but are not grounded in the actual details of the vast complexity of that night in April of 1912.
You're no fun!
I agree with you in one way: we cannot make accurate mathematical models. That is why I haven't gone in that direction, but instead have talked about principles, laws, and concepts instead.
But, think about any murder mystery that you've seen on TV. Perry Mason, Adrian Monk, Columbo, or any of the other sleuths solved the crimes without needing math or computer models. Those crime-fighters used witness testimony and hard evidence...the same things we have at our fingertips regarding the Titanic. Just because we cannot talk quantitatively doesn't mean that we can't do so qualitatively.
In my 36-year career around mechanical gadgets, machines, pressure vessels, piping, a submarine overhaul in a shipyard, and more, I've seen a lot of failures, fires, and even explosions. Failure analysis is the most fun part of my mechanical engineering job. So it's quite a worthwhile activity to try to figure out the mystery of what happened to the Titanic.
We need not do the math. But I won't stop anyone from trying. It just isn't going to be me!
 

Bob_Read

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May 9, 2019
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Hi Bill: I’m not against fun. I think that’s exactly what speculation about exactly how Titanic sank is and not much more. Over the years serious researchers have looked at the same flawed evidence an have come to extremely varying conclusions. Garbage in, garbage out. The problem isn’t with theorizing different scenarios. It is assembling the meager evidence and proclaiming “THIS is the way it happened!” But hey, one more theory won’t hurt anybody. It will surely be replaced in a few months by a totally new one. But by all means, have fun!
 
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Seumas

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Mar 25, 2019
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This is one for the all the technical experts on here.

I know that in the mid-late 1990s there was a considerable amount of investigation conducted upon the wreck that looked into the breakup but do you think they missed anything ?

Is there anything specifically about the breakup still to learned from careful investigation of the wreck or has this went as far as it can conceivably go ?