A rare astronomical assemblage might have helped sink R.M.S. Titanic.
Strong gravitational pull might have sent icebergs on a collision course.
Just weeks before the Titanic shipwreckís hundredth anniversary, scientists have a brand-new theory as to what might have helped spur modern historyís most famous maritime disaster. (See pictures of Titanicís rediscovery in 1985.)
An ultrarare alignment of the sun, the full moon, and Earth, they say, may have set the April 14, 1912, tragedy in motion, according to a new report.
R.M.S. Titanic went down on a moonless night, but the iceberg that sank the luxury liner may have been launched in part by a full moon that occurred three and a half months earlier, scientists say.
That full moon, on January 4, 1912, may have created unusually strong tides that sent a flotilla of icebergs southwardójust in time for Titanicís maiden voyage, said astronomer Donald Olson of Texas State University-San Marcos.
Even at the time, spring 1912 was considered an unusually bad season for icebergs. But figuring out why this happened has been a mystery.
Olson believes the iceberg boom was the result of a rare combination of celestial phenomena, including a "supermoon": when the moon is full during its closest monthly approach to the Earth. (See supermoon pictures.)
During new and full moons, the sun, Earth, and the moon are arranged in a straight line, with the sun and moon intensifying each otherís gravitational pull on the planet. The result: Low tides are lower than usual, and high tides are higheróa phenomenon called a spring tide.
Whatís more, on the January 4, 1912, the full moonóand therefore the spring-tide alignmentóended just six minutes before the moon made an unusually close swing by Earth.
It was the closest lunar approach, in fact, since A.D. 796, and Earth wonít see its like again until 2257. That combination of a very close moon and the celestial alignment added up to an especially strong gravitational pull on the Earth and therefore very high tides.
Itís an interesting theory, but not everyone is convinced.
Astronomer Geza Gyuk, for example, doubts the January 4, 1912, spring tide was especially powerful.
Full and new moons coincide with the moonís closest monthly approach of Earth every few years, with little effect on iceberg creation, said Gyuk, director of the Department of Astronomy at Chicagoís Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum.
Furthermore, in terms of tide-enhancing gravitational pull, it doesnít make much difference whether a spring-tide alignment occurs within six minutes or a couple days of the moonís closest approach, or perigee.
"A full moon anytime during the day preceding or following the perigee will have very close to the same tidal force," Gyuk said by email.
Also, he said, the moon on January 4, 1912, came only about 4,000 miles (6,200 kilometers) closer than its average perigee.
"The difference in tidal force between [the January 1912] perigee and an average perigee is only about 5 percent," he said.
Report co-author Olson doesnít dispute any of this. Rather, he said, it doesnít take a hugely stronger tide to refloat an iceberg.
"Suppose you pull a rowboat to a beach" at high tide and leave the boat when it first runs aground, he said. "It doesnít have to be much of a higher tide to refloat the rowboat."
In addition, Olson said, "we have found several stories about record tides ... around the world in January 1912."
Minister of Migration attacked by asylum seeker with fire extinguisher 2015-03-27 2:12
Sweden‚Äôs Minister of Justice & Migration also known as Morgan ‚Äúonly 1%‚ÄĚ Johansson, has been attacked with a fire extinguisher when he visited an asylum home for future Swedes.
Regional newspaper, Kristiandstadsbladet reported that a man who had been living at the home for a couple of weeks grabbed a fire extinguisher and sprayed foam all over the minister who didn‚Äôt ...
Congratulations Pussy Porters! 2015-03-26 18:52
Mural paid for by the government, decorates a Swedish school.
On International Women‚Äôs day Julia Caesar published this chronicle in Swedish on Snaphanen which I‚Äôve translated but prior to reading it I‚Äôd like to provide you with some background information on certain terms which are incomprehensible to non-Swedes.
First and foremost ‚Äúpussy porter‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúpenis porter‚ÄĚ are terms that third-wave feminists in ...
Germanwings co-pilot appears to have crashed plane deliberately ‚Äď prosecutor 2015-03-26 18:08
The Germanwings co-pilot seemed to have crashed the plane deliberately, killing 150 people on board. The co-pilot wouldn‚Äôt let the captain inside the cabin, with the ‚Äúintension to destroy‚ÄĚ the jet, the French prosecutor said at a press conference.
Follow RT‚Äôs live updates on investigation into Germanwings plane crash
The Germanwings co-pilot was identified as Andreas Lubitz.
The captain was between 30 ...
Sweden adds gender-neutral pronoun to dictionary 2015-03-25 19:38
The official dictionary of the Swedish language will introduce a gender-neutral pronoun in April, editors at the Swedish Academy have announced.
‚ÄúHen‚ÄĚ will be added to ‚Äúhan‚ÄĚ (he) and ‚Äúhon‚ÄĚ (she) as one of 13,000 new words in the latest edition of the Swedish Academy‚Äôs SAOL.
The pronoun is used to refer to a person without revealing their gender ‚Äď either because ...