Falling Apart
August 29, 2010 12:19 PM   Subscribe

The 20-day Expedition Titanic will use remotely operated submersibles to complete an unprecedented archaeological analysis of the two- by three-mile (three- by five-kilometer) debris field, including Titanic's two halves. The ship's bow and stern separated before sinking and now lie a third of a mile (half a kilometer) apart.

Some of the "videos" in the first link are actual videos, some are simply photos, while others are slide shows.
posted by gman (18 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
There's something odd about concern over a shipwreck falling apart.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 12:21 PM on August 29, 2010


Serious question: Is there a point to doing this? I get that there doesn't have to be a point, but the fascination over an almost century old shipwreck is odd.
posted by nomadicink at 12:45 PM on August 29, 2010


Well, I know that when James Cameron was doing his expeditions to Titanic a few years back, they developed a lot of technology which I'm sure is still being used today. Sometimes people set goals which don't have a practical purpose but which end up pushing out the limits of what we can do. Being driven by passion can often be the best way to force technology to improve, which then later finds more utilitarian uses.

All that aside, shipwrecks have been fascinating people for a long time. This one just happens to be so famous and remained mysterious for so long, it has a bit of legendary status in it. I suppose, from a certain point of view, any fascination with ruins from the past is odd.
posted by hippybear at 12:54 PM on August 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


a titanic expert scientist stated explore the wreckage now, because in 10
years the only evidence of the titanic will be an orange smear on the ocean
bottom where the wreck lies. not only will it implode but completely dissolve
in the future. the grand staircase has already collapsed inside the wreck.
posted by tustinrick at 12:57 PM on August 29, 2010


Serious question: Is there a point to doing this? I get that there doesn't have to be a point, but the fascination over an almost century old shipwreck is odd.

Does nobody here want to recover JACK?
posted by hal_c_on at 12:57 PM on August 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


Sure, it doesn't have to have a practical aspect, just wondering if there is one. Studying the past is always good, particularly as generations come and go, I suppose I'm just not enthralled with the Titanic. It was a big ship, it had an accident on its maiden voyage and sank. The accident probably could have been avoided, but isn't that true about similar things in life?

Anyway, Cameron gave a talk at TED, where talked about diving down to the Titanic and the curiosity that drives him.
posted by nomadicink at 1:07 PM on August 29, 2010


Well, I know that when James Cameron was doing his expeditions to Titanic a few years back, they developed a lot of technology which I'm sure is still being used today.

Na'vigation technology, perhaps?
posted by fairmettle at 1:26 PM on August 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


Well, the practical value of what they're doing is to try to get some idea of how fast things deteriorate on the sea floor. And that has direct relevance for private interests that want to make money off shipwrecks. Many folks feel that historic shipwrecks should be left alone until archaeologists can detail them in every way possible without disturbing them. The problem is, who funds that sort of thing? It's rare. So the treasure hunting community says that if they aren't allowed to make money off the finds, then these things with deteriorate into nothing before anyone ever spends the money to find them. The happy medium the treasure hunting community is seeking at present is for them to be able make money off what they find, but in exchange they will document the wrecks at best they can before disturbing them. That way some archaeology gets done and the financial incentive is there for people to spend the money it takes to find historic shipwrecks. And you'll notice that one of the parties involved in this Expedition Titanic is RMS Titanic, Inc, which of course is a for profit company that now has rights to the Titanic.
posted by Kaigiron at 1:27 PM on August 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Hate the interface. I was wondering if we would see more about Robert Ballard and his unmanned submersible, but who can tell from that mess? The Team looks like one guy.....
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:00 PM on August 29, 2010


Hm, I wonder if they could try to employ this technology in a more useful way...


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_France_Flight_447
posted by Trielli at 2:35 PM on August 29, 2010


"It sank. Get over it."
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 2:55 PM on August 29, 2010


Does nobody here want to recover JACK?

There'd be nothing left of him but his shoes. Scattered all around the Titanic wreck are many shoes, in pairs. The bodies are long gone because the sea creatures eat them, but the tannic acid in leather preserves the shoes.
posted by orange swan at 3:04 PM on August 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


hippybear: "... any fascination with ruins from the past is odd."

Not to me. Yesterday I was in the Hong Kong Museum of Art looking at monochrome porcelain bowls etched with different motifs, admiring the subtle way they filtered the light, and then I looked at the period they were made: over 1,000 years ago.

It hit me the same way viewing the Parthenon in Athens did, or the ruins at Ephesus in Turkey: I thought: somebody made this; people spent time and effort and sweat to create this, and it is still here. They are long dead but their creations remain.

I understand the need to see as much of the Titanic as possible before she rusts away completely.
posted by bwg at 4:30 PM on August 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


> I get that there doesn't have to be a point, but the fascination over an almost century old shipwreck is odd.

Robert Ballard originally found the Titanic because he got the US Navy to let him look after he was done finding their missing submarines.

Also, if you find looking into one of the most publicized wrecks of the modern era as odd, what do you think about the whole thousands of the years old ships found in the black sea that Ballard has currently been looking into?

I am assuming the problem they are really trying to solve, which isn't "how can we look at this ship?" but instead "how can we perform systematic and well documented naval archeology along with geological research in such a large area?" The Titanic remains a sexy way to sell fine tuning deep sea exploration.
posted by mrzarquon at 5:29 PM on August 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


I have three Chinese Turquoise carvings of Chinese coins, about 1.25 inches diameter and 0.25 inches thick, which I bought from an old lady in the Royal Street (NOLA) antique district for USD$25 each back in the early 1990's. I have worn the one with the most "personality" from a thong as a necklace ever since then. I have gotten more comments on that medallion than on any other piece of jewelry I've ever worn, and that includes several very expensive watches and a most highly expensive gold bracelet which I wore for more than a decade before it was lifted from me in Great Britain.

There was once a shop in the Forum Shops at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas which specialized in ancient Chinese coins, and back when I was doing the casino thing on one of my visits I stopped in and handed the guy my medallion.

"You know we can't date a carving," he said somberly. "We can only date when the rock formed maybe millions of years ago."

I allowed as to how my father had been like a physics professor so I kind of knew that.

"Based on its style, the most likely period it's from is about 800 AD," he said.

I still wear it every day and every once in awhile I think about the person who carved it -- and most likely the other two, as a divination device to do I Ching readings -- and how hard it would be for him to even imagine what his creation is up to today.
posted by localroger at 5:41 PM on August 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


I have worn the one with the most "personality" from a thong as a necklace ever since then.

[has adolescent fit of the giggles over the idea of a North American-style thong being used in such a fashion]
posted by orange swan at 4:46 AM on August 30, 2010


The Titanic just has not been studied enough.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 6:53 AM on August 30, 2010


Let me know when they find The Great Omar (YT).
posted by ikahime at 7:30 AM on August 30, 2010


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