Titanic and Today

April 12, 2008

April 14, 2008: Ninety-six years ago this evening, the temperature in the North Atlantic had just dropped below freezing while the RMS Titanic steamed toward America at 22 knots, racing through the calm cold water, heedless of iceberg warnings.


The Arctic, today.

The captain and crew knew far less about ice and Arctic conditions than we do today. If they had, could this tragedy have been averted?

So many factors contributed to the tragedy: the temptation to set a transatlantic crossing record in calm seas, the lack of binoculars in the crow’s nest, the radio room’s focus on sending passenger messages, the Captain’s preoccupation with running out of coal, the unusual conditions in the North Atlantic and the lack of sunspots – the list of factors goes on and on.

But perhaps the most significant was the news article labeling the RMS Titanic an unsinkable ship.

If the improbable is called impossible, it becomes inevitable!

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This video features photography of the ship, news coverage of the tragedy,
the discovery of the wreckage and photos of survivors – and people who
were not as lucky.

And there are other factors – after impact, sinking might have been avoided and more passenger could have been saved – but the poor decision-making continued. This is a story with many lessons to be learned.

On Monday night, April 14, Museum visitors can experience the Arctic today and the Titanic’s fate a century ago.


Chris Linder, researcher and photographer
from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute

Chris Linder, researcher and photographer from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution has spent the last year near the Poles and will take you on his Arctic and Antarctic adventures. His images of research expeditions during the International Polar Year will show what we now know about the Poles and how we are learning more.

His story will highlight Arctic changes and their potential effects on global climate change and our ability to avoid the “icebergs” currently in our path. After his presentation, you will experience the Night of the Titanic in immersive full-dome video.

Please join us for this very exciting and thoughtful evening.

Consider it a date with destiny!

Carolyn S
Authored By Carolyn S Sumners

Carolyn is VP of astronomy for the Museum; she develops Planetarium shows for the Museum that tour all over the world, developed the very first Challenger Learning Center and runs the Museum’s George Observatory in Brazos Bend State Park. In her spare time, she does research in the field of archaeoastronomy, which attempts to replicate the night sky at critical moments in history.

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