What if modern technology had existed in 1912?


Adam Went

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Hi all,

A bit of a hypothetical for this month....

What if modern technology had existed on board the Titanic? Radar, for instance, or the ability to contact other ships by phone. Would it have prevented the sinking altogether or made a significant difference at all? How might it have affected the passengers? Remember, we're considering a bizarre world here where passengers on board the Titanic could call or text one another on mobile phones, or tweet/update their status on Facebook regarding their predicament......how do you envision such a scenario?

Cheers,
Adam.
 

Doug Criner

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With radar, GPS, the International Ice Patrol, and modern communications, Titanic wouldn't have struck the iceberg in the first place. I'm not so sure of the relevance of this question. Sort of like asking how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.
 
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Alex F

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Belief in modern technology was the cause of the catastrophe.

The electromagnetic field being created by the Titanic transmitter was so strong that it could effect not only magnetic compass but heads of people steering the ship.

4-5 hours of continuous Titanic radiation might be fatal for people keying as well as causing euphoria of people around.
 
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Alex --

Please document your proof of your claims, including both historical records of such problems affecting navigation and/or radio officers and give us medical sources of research into the alleged problems.

-- David G. Brown
 

Adam Went

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Thanks for your responses so far. I don't necessarily agree - just because better technology and protocols are in place now, doesn't mean that there aren't still plenty of examples of shipping disasters in the modern era. Granted, the Titanic story would no doubt have played out much differently, but how can we be so sure that some other accident may not have befallen her? Given everything we know, I think it's a fairly limited point of view.

Doug: So there is no relevance to hypotheticals on a discussion forum?

Cheers,
Adam.
 

Jim Currie

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For latter-day or modern technology to work in the user's favour, it needs to work properly. The the person using it needs to know how to work it properly. Most important of all, the user must be fully aware of the limitations of the equipment in use and take them into account. As in 1912, the present day navigator needs to rely on 3 things: (1) natural caution (2) suspicion and (3) the efficiency of unknown others. Even today, it is not beyond the realms of imagination for a rogue growler to escape detection. It most certainly would not be detected in a force 8 wind or over. In the event of collision with such a danger, the modern ship is every bit as vulnerble as was Titanic
The Costa Concordia is a classic example of a modern day vessel equipped with the latest in navigation aids yet look what happened to her!

As my old grannie used to say "What's for you will not go past you".

JIm C.
 
Oct 28, 2000
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I've heard it said that, "A man that's meant for hanging' can't be drowned."

In large part Titanic's tragedy was an outgrowth of faith in technology. In it's day, "high tech" was mechanical -- watertight bulkeads, electrically closed watertight doors, etc. The "high tech" of 1912 was not sufficient to overcome the human factor. If you read some of the above posts about how modern electronic "high tech," you see exactly the same hubris as exhibited in 1912. Electronics may have replaced mechanics, but these modern argument are exactly the same, "high tech can overcome the dangers at sea." Not so and most likely never so. There's always the human factor whether the result of faulty operation or faulty computer programming.

As to what might have happened had Titanic been equipped with the latest whiz-bang electronics...history does not reveal its alternatives. We'll never know. It's quite pointless to discuss the unknowable alternatives to an imponderable question. The valid discussion is not looking back at what WOULD have happened. Rather it's looking forward to find ways to prevent what did happen from reoccurring. And, we find that's just what the mariners of a century ago did. The creation of the International Ice Patrol was perhaps the most significant change vis-a-vis iceberg dangers. Changes in radio protocols were also instituted. Even so, no matter how good the Ice Patrol may be, or how universal radio monitoring becomes nothing can un-sink Titanic. So, we'll never know what MIGHT have happened. All we can say for certain is the great ship went down.

--David G. Brown
 

Adam Went

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Jim: That's precisely what I'm talking about. I don't think it should be taken for granted that if the Titanic had been equipped with the technology of the 21st century, that nothing would have gone amiss. That is a simplistic view in my opinion.

David: Perhaps a better question, then, might be how can this technology be even further improved? What might be the next big invention to aid seafaring? What will be the radar of the 21st century? Another one that is perhaps beyond us to answer!

Christophe: Indeed. As I've said previously, anyone else is more than welcome to take over the monthly topics.

Cheers,
Adam.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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>>As to what might have happened had Titanic been equipped with the latest whiz-bang electronics...history does not reveal its alternatives.<<

History may not reveal its alternatives, it only reveals what was. But speculation does. The difference is that speculation reveals numerous posibilities, but it cannot change what was.
 

Alex F

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Perhaps a better question, then, might be how can this technology be even further improved? What might be the next big invention to aid seafaring? What will be the radar of the 21st century? Another one that is perhaps beyond us to answer!

The radar of last century is designated to work in air.

The ships are blind below waterline. Why?


The radar to detect icebergs, submerged objects, submarines... was invented 100 years ago.

No passenger ships are equipped with it.

Why?

Lack of invention?

No icebergs?

No more risk?



BR

Alex
 

Jim Currie

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[QUOTE=Alex F;377333]The radar of last century is designated to work in air.

The ships are blind below waterline. Why?


The radar to detect icebergs, submerged objects, submarines... was invented 100 years ago.

No passenger ships are equipped with it.

Why?

Lack of invention?

No icebergs?

No more risk?

Alex[/QUOTE]


You are mixing technologies Alex. Ships of today all have RADAR but they do not have RADIO (Wireless). The first is a visual aid to navigation and came into use about 1941. The second was an audio aid using short wave sound signals. Ships still use hand-held voice radios for short range communication. Satellites are used for long distance communications. The systems are changing and improving continuously,

Jim C.
 

Alex F

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You are mixing technologies Alex. Ships of today all have RADAR but they do not have RADIO (Wireless). The first is a visual aid to navigation and came into use about 1941. The second was an audio aid using short wave sound signals. Ships still use hand-held voice radios for short range communication. Satellites are used for long distance communications. The systems are changing and improving continuously,

Jim C.


Jim, I am talking about SONAR. Invention of Professor Fessenden. I gave link. Some quotes:

To conclude, let me continue briefly in the vein in which I began, viz Fessenden was an inventor who worked in many fields of science.

In addition to the inventions already mentioned, Fessenden gave us the radio pager (he called his device a beeper); he gave us sonar, which he demonstrated could detect icebergs, and his fathometer to measure the depth of water beneath the keel of a ship. He gave us turbo-electric drive to power ships; the first gyrocompass, the loop antenna; radio direction-finding; his pheroscope for submarines; a first TV receiver; ultrasonic methods for cleaning; electrical conduit; carbon tetrachloride; and tracer bullets.

Professor Fessenden was deeply disturbed by the sinking of the ocean liner Titanic on her maiden voyage to New York during the night of 14-15 April 1912. The vessel struck an iceberg just before midnight, and sank within two hours. He considered that the Titanic's iceberg avoidance procedure (clear air vision from the crow's-nest) to be very dangerous and that it should be replaced by a reliable system discovered by himself. Sonic frequency echo sounding could prevent a recurrence. He set his mind to perfecting this technology; later known as Sonar (Sound Navigation And Ranging).

The principle of such a sounder was to send a short-duration burst of sound (frequencies up to 20 kHz) from a transducer located about 3 metres below the surface of the water, of such power that it would travel as far as several kilometres through the water. When this wave came into contact with a solid object, such as an iceberg or the floor of the ocean, an echo was created. By measuring the time taken for the sound waves to travel out and the echo to return, it was possible to determine the distance to the object. During the period 1914 to 1925 Fessenden was granted over thirty patents for inventions using sonic frequencies.22

In September 1914, the USS Miami tested Fessenden's Submarine Electric Oscillator in the North Atlantic. Fessenden demonstrated that indeed he could get distinct echoes from icebergs, as far as 4 kilometres from a very large iceberg. The USS Alywin, in that same year conducting tests in the Boston Harbour, showed that Fessenden's sonic detection device could pick up the signals from a moving submarine from distances as great as 9 kilometres. In an associated test, the captain of one US submarine was able to direct the movements of another submarine several kilometres away by modulating the sonic signal by the Morse dot and dash method.

BR

Alex
 

Adam Went

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I guess what this really all links back to is the old argument that if the Titanic had more lifeboats, more lives would have been saved. I don't see this as necessarily being a fact because some lifeboats still left at a fraction of their capacity, and we've all heard about the struggle with the collapsible boats in the final minutes. Probably what would have happened is that there would have been lifeboats still attached to the wreck of the Titanic. So my point is that in order for this to have been avoided, the technology and sense to avoid the iceberg in the first place should be seen as more important than 'flaws' in the planning of the ship, should it not? Of course, it is all looked at with the benefit of hindsight.

Cheers,
Adam.
 

Alex F

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Alex --

Please document your proof of your claims, including both historical records of such problems affecting navigation and/or radio officers and give us medical sources of research into the alleged problems.

-- David G. Brown

Hi, David = =

Assumption is that the head of wireless operator on the Titanic was within one meter from the antenna base (bottom end of antenna).

The antenna on the Titanic was voltage-fed T-vertical. The radiator (vertical element of the antenna) was very short. The horizontal part of antenna (between masts) was only "hat" (loading for short vertical part) and not radiator.

The short radiator has strong near-field at its base (where the head of the operator was within one meter).

The safe limit (MPE threshold) for sitting within one meter of such antenna is 6 minutes (plus minus).

The electric field within one meter of the antenna on the Titanic (assumed from the antenna description and power in question, 5 KiloWatt) was over 1000 V/m.

The mechanism of effect (in short) is described (as an example) here, here and here.

The magnetic compass is same as physical body. (You may try to use welding machine(sparks) near the magnetic compass and look at the compass). You may read SOLAS rules what distance to be between the magnetic compass and radiating equipment. What do they say?

BR

Alex
 
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Alex -- thanks for responding.

Having been in broadcasting and ships for most of 60 years now, I've not seen any fellow workers suffer the ill-effects you describe while on duty. Nor have I experienced any compass deflection while using pilothouse radar and/or communications equipment. Not that either medical or magnetic effects are impossible, just that in my experience they are virtually undetectable when it comes to the operational safety of ships. In particular, Titanic had its standard compass (the one by which it was navigated) located quite far from any electro-magnetic influence. And, there is nothing in the conduct of either of the ship's two radio officers to indicate they were at all incapacitated before or during the sinking. And, to my knowledge, not one member of either Olympic's nor Titanic's crew and/or passengers was ever killed or even said to have been made "euphoric" by radiation from the wireless equipment. You have raised the specter of a problem regarding Titanic for which no evidence exists.

Assumptions are not allowed to be unchallenged in serious debate. I don't know how far the operators were from the dangers you perceive, but you can't simply guess about these things if you are going to make sweeping judgments. How far was the operator's head? There are people who could tell you that distance to within a few inches or less. And, they could explain what methods (if any) were employed to protect the wireless crew. You are fond of the web. Search out this information and only if it is not available make assumptions. This is critical because your conclusions aren't borne out by the facts of the Titanic case.

You have raised an interesting question, however. What did those early Marconi operators die from? Was their an unusual number of brain cancers or other problems associated with radiation? Maybe there is a connection. I don't know. What I do know is that these days we are more aware of the dangers and take measures to mitigate them as far as possible without degrading the safety advantages of radio, radar, etc.

As far as the mariner's compass goes, it is far more likely to be deviated by local electrical wiring than RF radiation. This was known in 1912 and was one of the factors in the continued use of oil lamps to illuminate compass binnacles. These days, twisting the DC wire pairs of compass lights is standard practice. And, it has been found a "rat's nest" of wiring near the binnacle is less likely to cause deviation than neat wiring. Of course, Titanic used oil lamps. In addition, the ship itself was recognized as the greatest source of deviation. That's why the standard compass was located amidships on a non-magnetic platform. It was raised above the ship's wiring and placed where the steel ahead was about equal to the steel behind the compass. Quite an unhandy location, but i'm sure effective for its purpose.

-- David G. Brown
 

Alex F

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And, to my knowledge, not one member of either Olympic's nor Titanic's crew and/or passengers was ever killed or even said to have been made "euphoric" by radiation from the wireless equipment. You have raised the specter of a problem regarding Titanic for which no evidence exists.

Assumptions are not allowed to be unchallenged in serious debate. I don't know how far the operators were from the dangers you perceive, but you can't simply guess about these things if you are going to make sweeping judgments. How far was the operator's head? There are people who could tell you that distance to within a few inches or less. And, they could explain what methods (if any) were employed to protect the wireless crew. You are fond of the web. Search out this information and only if it is not available make assumptions. This is critical because your conclusions aren't borne out by the facts of the Titanic case.

You have raised an interesting question, however. What did those early Marconi operators die from? Was their an unusual number of brain cancers or other problems associated with radiation? Maybe there is a connection. I don't know. What I do know is that these days we are more aware of the dangers and take measures to mitigate them as far as possible without degrading the safety advantages of radio, radar, etc.

Thanks David ==

What do we know Phillips collapsed, Bride had injures to his feets. (Interesting to note that RF radiation over threshold limit causes fail of thermoregulation and feets are the most sensible parts to be injured by RF. Later he died from lung cancer. So what?)

The rate of dying from cancer is more in the population of radio operators. You may check here (search for example "Poland", "Norway"). But these people worked within and below theshold limit (I hope).

The Titanic was huge not only in size. The power of transmitter was 10 times more than on the Carphatia or other vessels. Plus traffic size (time to transmit and relay the telegams).

They were effected.

BR

Alex
 
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Alex --

Never said they weren't exposed to more RF energy than we moderns consider safe. What I said is that such exposure does not seem to have hampered their performances...especially Phillips at the key...as Titanic sank. Thus, the RF danger does not appear to have been relevant to the sinking.

Did Phillips collapse? My recollection is that he had to be dragged away from the telegraph key by Bride as water was coming over the front of the boat deck. His actions were more of a man fixated by his duty (common in war and other stressful situations). And, he had been on duty for quite a number of hours with some loss of sleep repairing the equipment before that. Both of them then managed to scamper over the officer's quarters. It is possible they both reached that overturned boat before Phillips expired. Honestly, I don't trust the veracity of anything Bride said. Even so, I can't see any evidence of sudden onset RF poisoning that night.

And, to go back to the compass, the location of the wreck when combined with the bits and pieces of the ship's navigational record indicate they were not having any difficulty keeping on course. Again, no influence of RF on the compass as a factor in the accident.

-- David G. Brown
 

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