1912: 1912 was a year of promise. The start of World War I was still two years away and science and technology were ascendant with the outlook that humans had conquered nature and their inventions could overcome anything. Albert Einstein had already been working on his theories around relativity that would revolutionize Physics. In practical terms, the first decade to the 20th century saw the invention of the vacuum cleaner , the air conditioner and the electric washing machine. It seemed like science was triumphant. It was with attitude that British White Star Line commissioned the building of the largest ship ever constructed. The Titanic. The ship would have every technological advantage and be unsinkable. It left the British Isles at Queenstown, Ireland, on Thursday, April 11, 1912 on its maiden voyage. The weather awaiting the Titanic in North America was cold. In Boston, a few thousand fans shivered in the cold and snow flurries as the Red Sox beat Harvard University 2-0 in the first game ever played at Fenway Park. On April 12, the winds were west-southwest at about 20 mph and the noon temperature was about 60 degrees where the ship was on the Atlantic Ocean. As the ship continued west, the skies got cloudier as a weak cold front approached. The noontime temperature on Saturday, April 12, was still at 60 degrees, but another cold front (associated with the previous Fenway flurries) was to the west and north of the ship. As the Titanic passed through the second cold front on Sunday, April 14, the winds switched to northwest at 25 mph. The noon temperature was 50 degrees, but by 7:30 p.m., the temperature had dropped to 39. On Sunday, nighttime temperatures dropped below freezing, and the skies cleared and the winds calmed. A large Arctic air mass was now over the area on the clear, star-lit night with subfreezing temperatures and calm winds that resulted in a sea “like glass.” Icebergs were known to be in the region, but the calm winds made spotting them difficult. To spot icebergs during the night, lookouts searched for wind-driven waves breaking around their bases, but because of the calm weather this effect did not occur. The ship struck an iceberg at 11:40 p.m. Sunday, April 14. While the seas were relatively calm, that NW flow of air behind the front end actually steered a giant ice field towards the ship that night. The ship hit the iceberg that has been estimated as possibly weighing up to 300,000 tons, and the ship’s hull was torn open. It then took less than three hours from that point on for the Titanic to sink. The temperature of the water was estimated to be as low as 28 degrees – even lower than the conventional 32-degree freezing point as salt helped to lower its freezing point. Even though many people went into the water and survived the initial crash and sinking, the extremely cold-water temperature caused almost all in the water to suffer hypothermia and die quickly. Just hours before the wind has been west and the coldest water had not been pushed around the great ship. The water temperature may have been as high as 50 which would have allowed people to survive much longer in the water. At 2:20am on April 15, 1912 the Titanic slipped below the water. The unimaginable had happened, the unsinkable ship went to the deep. Faith in the promise of technology and science was shaken.
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