We all know a certain amount about the Titanic’s story from history class, the James Cameron film, and the mark that the tragedy left on the world. But the ship has a much bigger story than most of us know, and these crazy Titanic facts are just the start.
Before you embark on Titanic: The Exhibition, here’s seven insane facts about the ill-fated vessel you might not know.
1. There is a bacteria slowly eating away at the Titanic’s wreckage, and the ship could be gone completely by 2030
Discovered by Henrietta Mann in 2010, Halomonas titanicae is a species of bacteria that is consuming the rusted wreckage of Titanic at the bottom of the North Atlantic Ocean. The upside of Halomonas titanicae’s discovery is that it could potentially be used to get rid of manmade materials littering our oceans.
2. As many people went to see the Titanic’s launch as the highest-attended Super Bowl in history
The launching of the Titanic may have taken just a few minutes, but that didn’t stop 100,000 people from seeing it off in Southampton, England. To put that in perspective, the biggest turnout for a Super Bowl ever was in 1980, when Super Bowl XIV drew a crowd of 103,985 people to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.
3. No lifeboat drills were carried out while the boat was at sea, but there was supposed to be one the morning before the ship sank
According to Rebecca Aldridge, author of the book The Sinking of the Titanic, the lifeboat drill was canceled by Captain Edward Smith. It has been suggested that, since Smith was set to retire after the Titanic’s voyage, he canceled the drill to deliver his last Sunday service as a naval officer.
4. An optical illusion may have been responsible for the iceberg not being spotted in time
The infamous iceberg was spotted only 37 seconds before it hit the ship. Since the Titanic was moving from warmer to colder waters at the time, experts believe a phenomenon called thermal inversion may have been keeping the ice from sight.
Essentially, a thermal inversion consists of layers of cold air beneath layers of warm air. This can cause light to be refracted in such a way that there appears to be a “false horizon,” behind which was the iceberg.
To make things worse, the conditions would have resulted in zero fog, giving the crew of Titanic confidence that the waters were indeed clear.
5. You could build 9 Titanic ships with the amount of money that James Cameron’s Titanic made
Adjusted for inflation, the Titanic cost about $220 million to build. The worldwide gross of James Cameron’s Titanic is currently $2.1 billion. Not only could you build 9 Titanic ships with that revenue, but you’d still have nearly $200 million left over.
And once Titanic is re-released in 4K and 3D on February 10th, you’ll be able to build a few more.
6. Onboard, there were only two bathtubs available for all third-class passengers
That’s two bathtubs for 706 people. And those passengers paid the equivalent of about $1,000 in today’s money for a trip that was supposed to be nearly a week.
7. Titanic’s wreckage has pushed forward underwater photography, mapping, and submersible technology
You’re probably familiar with those hauntingly beautiful photos of the Titanic’s rusting bow. But when the wreckage was first discovered in 1985, the first images were in grainy black-and-white. At the time, it was not possible to capture color footage 13,000 feet below the ocean.
It was a Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) research vessel that first discovered the Titanic. As Bill Lange, the director of the Advanced Imaging and Visualization Laboratory at WHOI puts it:
“Titanic has been a great driver for advancing our imaging, lighting, and other technologies in the deep sea. The constant desire of people to know more about Titanic has provided funding and resources to go back to Titanic over the years. It helped drive our desire to keep bringing technology to the next level and improving the imaging capabilities for the scientists and the public.”
These Titanic facts only skim the surface of the ship’s incredible past. You can learn all about its groundbreaking design and even see actual artifacts that were recovered from the ship at Titanic: The Exhibition. There’s also recreated sets of locations on the ship, such as the Grand Staircase made famous in James Cameron’s film.
Tickets are still available for Titanic: The Exhibition. Get yours here and prepare to sail into the past!