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The Titanic will go on

Theories on the superliner will never sink, it would seem. We’ll see more floating to the surface soon.

india Updated: Apr 04, 2012 01:01 IST
the titanic

Like Celine Dion’s Academy Award-winning Titanic theme song, ‘My Heart Will Go On’, the mystery around what led to the sinking of the superliner on April 14, 1912, it seems, will continue forever. So in the 100th year of the incident, we have yet another theory bobbing about the surface. To recount the old official tale, RMS Titanic was on its way from Southampton to New York when it struck an iceberg just off the coast of Newfoundland.

The glancing blow hit the 100-metre long starboard section of the hull and water rushed inside its six (supposedly watertight) compartments. Within the next three hours, the ship went down.

But not many bought this theory and a legion of stories about the legend began to come out. The latest has been floated by science writer Richard Corfield who says that the rivets that held the ship’s hull together were not even in composition or quality and had not been inserted in a uniform fashion and gave way when the ship hit the iceberg.

A quick Web search, however, reveals that the fascinating thing called the human mind is capable of much more: while one pinned the accident down to a fire inside the ship’s coal bunkers, another one talked about the curse of the pharaohs since a traveller had with him a sarcophagus containing the mummy of an ancient Egyptian priestess. Then there is the one about a German U-boat torpedoing the ship. Other than these glamorous theories, there are the ordinary ones: the helmsman making a steering blunder and the ship moving too fast to win the Blue Riband, a prestigious prize awarded to a ship for making the fastest North Atlantic crossing.

So what makes the Titanic story tick? From the very beginning, its story was tailor-made to be riveting copy. The tragic end only added to its aura. Investigating it made good business too: from books, to research grants to underwater expeditions, not to mention a mega budget movie. In other words, the Titanic story has been done to death. Maybe the 100th year is a good time to leave the ship in its watery grave once and for all.