CLOSE

10 Things You Should Know Before Boarding an "Unsinkable" Oceanliner

I was telling my husband that I wasn't sure how to start a Titanic story, and this was his suggestion:

"Hey, this is a little-known fact... an obscure, low-budget movie was made about it in the 90s."

So, on that note, today is the 96th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. Yes, we all know about Jack and Rose and their brief-but-intense relationship aboard the ship, but which details did James Cameron get right, which did he exaggerate and what did he leave out altogether? Below are 10 things you may not know about the real Titanic. [And if that gets you in the mood to buy some Titanic merchandise, order our "Ship Happens" shirt.]

1. Iceberg Warnings

iceberg
Seems like this ship was doomed. Captain Edward Smith actually changed course a little bit in response to iceberg warnings he received over wireless, but, obviously, icebergs were in the Titanic's future anyway. Two boats, the Amerika and the Mesaba, both sent messages to the Titanic to warn the captain that despite changing course, huge icebergs were still in the ship's path. Neither message made it from the wireless operator to the bridge. Around 11 p.m., The Californian sent word that they were stopped for the night because of the ice. Like the others, this message never left the wireless room.

2. Notable Passengers

passengers
Being the first to ride on the luxury ocean liner was a big deal "“ thus, some very rich and prominent people called the first-class cabins "home" 96 years ago. Just a few of the passengers included:

"¢Millionaire John Jacob Astor and his pregnant wife, Madeleine. They had been on their honeymoon when she became pregnant, which is why they booked tickets on the Titanic. Many legends about Astor and the Titanic are floating around, but none of them have ever been substantiated. It's rumored that he was the one who let all of the dogs out of their kennels so that they might have a fighting chance; it's also said that he put a woman's hat on a younger boy so that he would be mistaken for a woman and would be able to board a lifeboat. My favorite, though, is the rumor that when the iceberg struck the ship, Astor quipped, "I asked for ice, but this is ridiculous."

Benjamin Guggenheim, the son of mining magnate Meyer Guggenheim and the father of museum founder and art collector Peggy Guggenheim. He was reportedly the one who said, "We've dressed up in our best and are prepared to go down like gentlemen."

Isidor Straus, co-owner of Macy's department store. His wife, Ida, refused to leave his side even though she was offered a spot on a lifeboat.

Molly Brown, who was friends with the Astors and decided to return home with them when she learned that her grandson was ill. Molly survived by boarding a lifeboat and tried to commandeer the boat when the boat's Commander, Robert Hichens, refused to go back and pick up people in the water even though the lifeboat was only half-full.

Dorothy Gibson, who, after Mary Pickford, was probably the best-known and highest-paid silent film actress of the day. She survived and made a film about her escape from the Titanic, even wearing the same clothes she wore on that fateful night "“ a white silk dress with a cardigan and polo coat. She may have been the inspiration for Rose in the 1997 movie that you may have heard of if you like little indie films.

3. The prices

Third-class passage was only about $36.25, although that was still quite a bit of money in those days, especially for a large family. Second class was about $66 and first class started at $125. The highest priced suite was $4,500, though, which was a huge amount of money "“ at the time, a decent house could be found for $1,000, so to spend more than four times that on temporary lodgings was pretty shocking. I suppose that's why they called it "The Millionaire's Suite".

4. A close call

close call
Both J. P. Morgan (right) and Milton S. Hershey (left) had reservations on the Titanic and surely could have booked the Millionaire's Suite. Mrs. Hershey fell ill so the Hersheys booked passage on a different ship "“ The Amerika. The Hershey museum displays a copy of the check Hershey wrote to the White Star Line as a deposit for his first-class room on the Titanic. The White Star Line was actually owned by J.P. Morgan, who was scheduled to be staying in his own private suite. He canceled for unknown reasons.

5. Commander Charles Lightoller

lightoller Commander Charles Lightoller was the senior-most crew to survive, but even his was a narrow escape. When water washed over the bow of the ship, Lightoller decided that he might as well jump in the water voluntarily before it took him unexpectedly. He surfaced from his dive only to be sucked back under as water flooded one of the ventilators. He was pinned to the grates until a blast of air from the ship pushed him back up to the surface. He then helped passengers cling to an overturned lifeboat until they were rescued. He continued to be a hero even after getting back to dry land - it was his testimony and recommendation that spurred safety improvements such as basing lifeboat numbers on passenger numbers (instead of the weight of the ship), 24-hour radio communications in all ships and lifeboat drills for the passengers.

6. The Titanic Curse

It doesn't really exist, but at the time, people thought the ship was cursed from the start. The ship was supposedly assigned the number 390904. Read that backward in a mirror and it vaguely resembles the phrase "No Pope". The Titanic was actually assigned the number 401, so there's really no truth to the "curse" at all.

7. Rediscovery

bow
The doomed steamliner wasn't found until 1985, when oceanographer Robert Ballard discovered it near Newfoundland using new sonar technology. He was actually just looking for debris, not the ship itself "“ over the years, experts decided that debris would have been scattered over a large area as the ship sank to the bottom of the ocean. Soon after sighting debris, the crew spotted a boiler and then the hull of the ship. The biggest discovery the team made is that the ship did actually split into two parts "“ both American and British inquiries had determined that the ship sank as one whole piece.
Ballard and his crew didn't take any artifacts from the ship at the time; he considered it graverobbing. Eventually, though, more than 6,000 items were recovered and put on display at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, England. Many objects were also part of a traveling Titanic museum exhibit.

8. The Last Survivor

deanMillvina Dean was the youngest person on the Titanic at a mere two months old. Her parents were moving from England to Wichita, Kansas, and managed to get third-class tickets for the Titanic. They never made it to Wichita - her father didn't survive the crash and her mother, being left with two small children, wanted to go home to England to be with her surviving family.

Strangely enough, her brother, Bertram, died on April 14, 1992, the 80th anniversary of the Titanic striking the iceberg.

9. Was the accident foretold?

Maybe Morgan Robertson was psychic. About 14 years before the Titanic sank, Robertson wrote Futility, a novel about the largest ship ever built hitting an iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean on a cold April night. The ship "“ The Titan "“ sank, leaving only 13 survivors out of 3,000. The Titan was also billed as "unsinkable" and was also a British ship on its way to New York. A little spooky, no??

10. The last meal

What did all of these wealthy people dine on before going down with the ship? Well, it was quite a feast. Offerings at dinner on the night of April 14, 1912, included oysters, filet mignon, lamb with mint sauce, roast duckling, chateau potatoes, roast squab and cress, pate de foie gras, Waldorf pudding, peaches in Chartreube jelly, chocolate and vanilla eclairs and French ice cream.
Second-class passengers didn't fare quite so well "“ their dinner was their choice of haddock, chicken, lamb or turkey, boiled rice, boiled potatoes, plum pudding, American ice cream, fresh fruit, biscuits and coffee.
Third-class passengers received Irish stew, stewed apricots, fresh bread and butter and tea.

Well, these are just a few stories. Share your Titanic facts, speculation and urban legends in the comments!

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Hulu
arrow
entertainment
10 Things We Know About The Handmaid’s Tale Season 2
Hulu
Hulu

Though Hulu has been producing original content for more than five years now, 2017 turned out to be a banner year for the streaming network with the debut of The Handmaid’s Tale on April 26, 2017. The dystopian drama, based on Margaret Atwood’s 1985 book, imagines a future in which a theocratic regime known as Gilead has taken over the United States and enslaved fertile women so that the group’s most powerful couples can procreate.

If it all sounds rather bleak, that’s because it is—but it’s also one of the most impressive new series to arrive in years (as evidenced by the slew of awards it has won, including eight Emmy and two Golden Globe Awards). Fortunately, fans left wanting more don’t have that much longer to wait, as season two will premiere on Hulu in April. In the meantime, here’s everything we know about The Handmaid’s Tale’s second season.

1. IT WILL PREMIERE WITH TWO EPISODES.

When The Handmaid’s Tale returns on April 25, 2018, Hulu will release the first two of its 13 new episodes on premiere night, then drop another new episode every Wednesday.

2. MARGARET ATWOOD WILL CONTINUE TO HELP SHAPE THE NARRATIVE.

Fans of Atwood’s novel who didn’t like that season one went beyond the original source material are in for some more disappointment in season two, as the narrative will again go beyond the scope of what Atwood covered. But creator/showrunner Bruce Miller doesn’t necessarily agree with the criticism they received in season one.

“People talk about how we're beyond the book, but we're not really," Miller told Newsweek. "The book starts, then jumps 200 years with an academic discussion at the end of it, about what's happened in those intervening 200 years. We're not going beyond the novel. We're just covering territory [Atwood] covered quickly, a bit more slowly.”

Even more importantly, Miller's got Atwood on his side. The author serves as a consulting producer on the show, and the title isn’t an honorary one. For Miller, Atwood’s input is essential to shaping the show, particularly as it veers off into new territories. And they were already thinking about season two while shooting season one. “Margaret and I had started to talk about the shape of season two halfway through the first [season],” he told Entertainment Weekly.

In fact, Miller said that when he first began working on the show, he sketched out a full 10 seasons worth of storylines. “That’s what you have to do when you’re taking on a project like this,” he said.

3. MOTHERHOOD WILL BE A CENTRAL THEME.

As with season one, motherhood is a key theme in the series. And June/Offred’s pregnancy will be one of the main plotlines. “So much of [Season 2] is about motherhood,” Elisabeth Moss said during the Television Critics Association press tour. “Bruce and I always talked about the impending birth of this child that’s growing inside her as a bit of a ticking time bomb, and the complications of that are really wonderful to explore. It’s a wonderful thing to have a baby, but she’s having it potentially in this world that she may not want to bring it into. And then, you know, if she does have the baby, the baby gets taken away from her and she can’t be its mother. So, obviously, it’s very complicated and makes for good drama. But, it’s a very big part of this season, and it gets bigger and bigger as the show goes on.”

4. THE RESISTANCE IS COMING.

Just because June is pregnant, don’t expect her to sit on the sidelines as the resistance to Gilead continues. “There is more than one way to resist," Moss said. “There is resistance within [June], and that is a big part of this season.”

5. WE’LL GET TO SEE THE COLONIES.

A scene from 'The Handmaid's Tale'
Hulu

Miller, understandably, isn’t eager to share too many details about the new season. “I’m not being cagey!” he swore to Entertainment Weekly. “I just want the viewers to experience it for themselves!” What he did confirm is that the new season will bring us to the colonies—reportedly in episode two—and show what life is like for those who have been sent there.

It will also delve further into what life is like for the refugees who managed to escape Gilead, like Luke and Moira.

6. MARISA TOMEI WILL APPEAR IN AN EPISODE.

Though she won’t be a regular cast member, Miller recently announced that Oscar winner Marisa Tomei will make a guest appearance in the new season’s second episode. Yes, the one that will show us the Colonies. In fact, that’s where we’ll meet her; Tomei is playing the wife of a Commander.

7. WE’LL LEARN MORE ABOUT THE ORIGINS OF GILEAD.

As a group shrouded in secrecy, we still don’t know much about how and where Gilead began. That will change a bit in season two. When discussing some of the questions viewers will have answered, executive producer Warren Littlefield promised that, "How did Gilead come about? How did this happen?” would be two of them. “We get to follow the historical creation of this world,” he said.

8. THERE WILL BE AT LEAST ONE HANDMAID FUNERAL.

A scene from 'The Handmaid's Tale'
Hulu

While Miller wouldn’t talk about who the handmaids are mourning in a teaser shot from season two that shows a handmaid’s funeral, he was excited to talk about creating the look for the scene. “Everything from the design of their costumes to the way they look is so chilling,” Miller told Entertainment Weekly. “These scenes that are so beautiful, while set in such a terrible place, provide the kind of contrast that makes me happy.”

9. ELISABETH MOSS SAYS THE TONE WILL BE DARKER.

Like season one, Miller says that The Handmaid’s Tale's second season will again balance its darker, dystopian themes with glimpses of hopefulness. “I think the first season had very difficult things, and very hopeful things, and I think this season is exactly the same way,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “There come some surprising moments of real hope and victory, and strength, that come from surprising places.”

Moss, however, has a different opinion. “It's a dark season,” she told reporters at TCA. “I would say arguably it's darker than Season 1—if that's possible.”

10. IT WILL ALSO BE BLOODIER.

A scene from 'The Handmaid's Tale'
Hulu

When pressed about how the teaser images for the new season seemed to feature a lot of blood, Miller conceded: “Oh gosh, yeah. There may be a little more blood this season.”

nextArticle.image_alt|e
NUS Environmental Research Institute, Subnero
arrow
technology
Researchers in Singapore Deploy Robot Swans to Test Water Quality
NUS Environmental Research Institute, Subnero
NUS Environmental Research Institute, Subnero

There's something peculiar about the new swans floating around reservoirs in Singapore. They drift across the water like normal birds, but upon closer inspection, onlookers will find they're not birds at all: They're cleverly disguised robots designed to test the quality of the city's water.

As Dezeen reports, the high-tech waterfowl, dubbed NUSwan (New Smart Water Assessment Network), are the work of researchers at the National University of Singapore [PDF]. The team invented the devices as a way to tackle the challenges of maintaining an urban water source. "Water bodies are exposed to varying sources of pollutants from urban run-offs and industries," they write in a statement. "Several methods and protocols in monitoring pollutants are already in place. However, the boundaries of extensive assessment for the water bodies are limited by labor intensive and resource exhaustive methods."

By building water assessment technology into a plastic swan, they're able to analyze the quality of the reservoirs cheaply and discreetly. Sensors on the robots' undersides measure factors like dissolved oxygen and chlorophyll levels. The swans wirelessly transmit whatever data they collect to the command center on land, and based on what they send, human pilots can remotely tweak the robots' performance in real time. The hope is that the simple, adaptable technology will allow researchers to take smarter samples and better understand the impact of the reservoir's micro-ecosystem on water quality.

Man placing robotic swan in water.
NUS Environmental Research Institute, Subnero

This isn't the first time humans have used robots disguised as animals as tools for studying nature. Check out this clip from the BBC series Spy in the Wild for an idea of just how realistic these robots can get.

[h/t Dezeen]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios