The Real Story Titanic

On the Smithsonian Channel, there is a series called "The Real Story" and they examine movies showing what's true and what's not. It was inevitable that they'd do Titanic. I watched it last night and it was pretty interesting.

They did a hypothermia test by dunking some guy in speedos in a tank of 50-degree water and monitoring his body temp. Then they made him do some things like put a nut on a bolt to demonstrate the condition someone is in at that time. (30-degree water was deemed too dangerous and they felt that 50 would do the trick).

They also had some tests in a simulator that's usually used for training. They tried to calculate how the action that was reported held up in a simulator and concluded that the action that Murdoch took was to order the wheel turned. And that it would take a couple of minutes to reverse the engines (unlike what's seen in the movie).

Here are some other points that they made, a couple of which surprised me:

- Theorized that it took roughly 50 seconds from the time the iceberg was sighted until the collision.

- The iceberg was only 600 yards away instead of the reported mile.

- Captain Smith had many near-misses. He refused tugs to guide him into harbor at one point.

- The only reason that the Californian and Titanic saw each other was because of normal refraction. Without that, they wouldn't have been able to see each other, given that they were 18 miles away.

- Rockets were fired in the wrong sequence. They weren't in 1-minute intervals as the usual practice for ships in distress. They were fired over 5 minutes irregularly.

- Males were more susceptible to hypothermia than females because generally females have 10% more body fat.

And, of course, they have to throw in the sensational claim.

- Found a rock that matches those from Greenland near the Titanic wreck site, saying that it was possibly a stone from the iceberg.

If you get the Smithsonian Channel, it's worth a watch. I find most of their shows pretty spot on when it comes to getting facts right.