Seriously though, I remember reading on one Titanic-related site an article regarding icebergs. (Sorry, I can't remember which one.) Icebergs are generally hundreds of years old, and the "ice" that comprises them is more like rock than the stuff you put in your drink.
It's all a question of momentum. Titanic tipped the scales at some 60,000 tons, and considering she was doing some 23 knots at the time of the collision, her momentum was considerable. The mass of the iceberg was many, many times greater than Titanic's so the berg can be assumed to have been an immovable object as far as the ship was concerned.
When the collision occurred, something had to give. The iceberg certainly sustained damage (bits were been chipped off it, above and below the waterline) but the overall mass of solid ice was sufficient to change Titanic's course slightly as she grazed it. The resulting change in momentum caused excessive pressure on the quite small area of the ship's hull in contact with the berg, and the large force thus exerted was enough to push the overlapping plates inwards and break the rivets. The holes which opened allowed seawater to enter, fast enough to make sinking inevitable.
Actually though, scientist now think that the plates didn't even cave in. There is evidence to show that there was much more than the optimum amout of slag in some of the rivits, causing the rivits to be weaker than if they had contained the optimum amount of slag. When the hull collided with the iceberg, the ship bumped along the berg, at which time the rivits popped loose, causing the seams between the hull plates to seperate. In the last visit to the ship in 1998, scientists actually found a small section of the iceberg damage just above the sea bed floor. The damage was the relavively small opening in the boiler room where stoker Fredrick Barret had been working.
One point concerns the process of "cold-punching" Titanic's rivets, which created "micro-cracks," (whatever they are!), around the rivet holes. Apparently, if the rivet holes had been reamed, this would have reduced the inbuilt stresses in the rivets and hull plates.
Examples to demonstrate this point are Olympic and The Queen Mary. The Olympic suffered from severe metal fatigue around the rivet holes, which was one factor in the decision to scrap her. The Queen Mary's rivet holes were reamed, and she's had a much longer life. This info isn't mine btw; it's from the site above.
The Webmaster explains it much better than I can, plus I don't want to be accused of plagarism. (Not sure of the spelling there!)
Please, no apologies! You could, in fact, be right. The message that I posted about the theory of the ship's plates not caving in is just one theory, that happens to be debatable!
This is one of my favorite areas of the Titanic disaster to learn about(probably because I'm studing to be a mechanical engineer). I welcome any conversation on it. Please, e-mail me or post a message here. Maby we can "swap" info.
Just to add a bit more information to the thread.....
I had a look at the site mentioned above, and while it is for the most part very accurate, I do have to take issue with one area of it, where it is stated that the Olympic was scrapped after failing a hull survey in 1930, which showed numerous and severe micro cracks around the hull rivets.
I live in Sheffield, England and the firm which bought Olympic ((and for that matter, MAJESTIC, HOMERIC, CELTIC, and COPTIC, amongst others)) back in 1935, was a company called Thomas W Wards ltd. They were and still are in based in Sheffield, but no longer in shipbreaking.
I have spoken to the man who now runs the company and also seen some of the archives that deal with the purchase of these ships, and far from being in a poor state, the Olympics hull in particular was noticed as being "Surprisingly sound". Indeed when the MAJESTIC was sold to Wards, they sold her on to the Royal Navy as a training ship! Hardly the sort of vessel the Navy would buy, had it been suffering from Hull fatigue.
The reason that these ships were sold off is due to the WSL and Cunard being forced to merge - not due to them suffering from metal fatigue. It is interesting to note, that at a stroke Cunard virtually elliminated the entire WSL fleet, when almost none of their vessels were given the same treatment.
I guess it's a question of 'tremendous force' meets 'imovable object'.
The Titanic weighed the best part of 50,000 tons. The Iceberg may of weighed 250,000 tons or more, considering most of it is under water!! When these two things collide, they're going to release a massive about of energy...
Like you, I find this facet of the tragedy very interesting. Sadly, I haven't got a lot of information to share! Although I've read books on Titanic for getting on for 20 years, it's only since having access to the net that I've discovered other sources of information to explore. Therefore, I'd put myself at Primary School level when it comes to knowing more about Titanic than what anyone could easily find in the commonly printed books.
If I find anything particularly useful or interesting, I'll post it here first. If you like, I'll drop you an e-mail as well, but I'll probably just be telling you of things that you already know!
(At the moment, I'm doing research to find out if I am related to one of the crew members who lived in Southampton: same forenames and surname as my dad, and those forenames run in the family! Who knows?)
Thanks for your reply. After I posted the message above, I realized that I probably don't have any more information that you do. I have tried to dig pretty deep into this particular aspect of the tragedy, and the places that I've been finding alot of the information is in career or scientific journals, such as, for expample, Mechanical Engineering and Computer Graphics World.
I did enjoy the link that you posted. I found it to be informative, minus the errors in which Nige pointed out(I caught them as well!).
Anyhoo, please, drop me a line or post it here if you run across anything!
Good luck with your research, and let me know what you come up with!
Im only a teenager and Im a girl but I thought that another factor which contributed to the sinking was that the 30 degree farenheit water had what you might say softened the plates of the Titanic. So the impact had jolted loose the rivets and in comes the water. Is that agreeable, or am I babbling??