11 Questionable Suggestions for Raising the Titanic

In the 100 years since the hulking ship slipped beneath the surface of the Atlantic, a wealth of ideas have been offered for how to bring it back up – many of them proposed before the ship was even located by Bob Ballard and his crew in 1985. Let’s take a look at 11 of the weird brainstorms offered up over the last century.

1. Fill It With Ping Pong Balls

One of the most commonly cited ideas for raising the ship is one that calls for filling it with ping pong balls and letting their buoyancy raise it to the surface. This idea poses a lot of problems – like how exactly you’d get the ping pong balls down to the ship, and how you’d deal with the fact that the water pressure at the ship’s depth would instantly flatten them. However, the general idea was proven to be possible on a smaller vessel during an episode of MythBusters.

2. Inject It With Vaseline

According to an article written just after the ship was located by Bob Ballard’s team in 1985, a “British underwater salvage expert” proposed filling a series of polyester bags with 180,000 tons of Vaseline and placing them inside the hull of Titanic. Apparently that would do something magical. But that isn’t even the craziest idea the article cited; that would be…

3. Turn It Into a Giant Ice Cube

In case you’ve forgotten, Titanic was sunk by a gigantic block of ice. So, proposing an idea where the wreckage of the ship is sprayed with liquid nitrogen in order to turn it into an enormous ice cube is at best ironic and at worst pretty disrespectful to those who lost their lives aboard her. Needless to say, that idea didn’t really float with anyone.

4. Pump It Full of Boiling Wax

Wax floats when it solidifies, so why not just transport an insane amount of hot wax several miles down into the ocean, pour it into the ship, and wait for it to cool. It’s almost too easy – yet nobody wanted to try it.

5. Bring up a Small Piece – For a Large Price

In 1996, a commercial attempt was made to raise a 21-ton portion of Titanic’s hull. The effort to bring up the 24’ x 16’ section of the ship was followed by 1,700 people aboard a nearby cruise ship, each of whom had paid anywhere from $1,800 and $6,000 for the honor of watching the action being captured by underwater cameras. The portion of the ship was just 70 yards from hitting fresh air for the first time in over eight decades when the lines hoisting it up snapped and sent it plummeting miles back down to the ocean floor.

6. Suck It to the Surface With Magnets

Roughly a year after its sinking – and 72-odd years before it was actually found in pieces – an architect named Charles Smith had the idea of finding the sunken ship and raising it by attaching electromagnets to both the ship’s hull and a cable attached to a barge on the surface. As the barge reeled in the cable, it would bring the 882-foot vessel with it.

7. Get a Huge Claw or an Enormous Scoop

A variety of plans have been talked about throughout the years to either develop a claw large enough to grab and raise the ship (like a gigantic version of that claw-dropping arcade game) or, conversely, create a huge scoop of some kind to dig under the ship and raise it gingerly upward. None of these have materialized.

8. Reverse-Engineer the Atlantic Ocean's Water

One idea called for the creation of a “deep water electrolytic process” designed to extract hydrogen and oxygen from ocean water – and use them to fill a series of containers attached to the ship. The plan was too complicated and expensive, and was never attempted.

9. Just Blow It Up

Just five days after the sinking of Titanic in 1912, an article in The New York Evening Journal detailed an idea being considered by Vincent Astor, whose father John Jacob Astor, the richest man aboard Titanic, had gone down with the ship. The idea called for locating and blasting apart the wreckage of Titanic with dynamite, the hope being that the explosion would dislodge the body of his father, sending it back up to the surface. In the article, a shipping expert is quoted:

“Having found the boat, the rest would not be difficult, although we would be compelled to completely wreck the boat. A large quantity of gun cotton, between 300 and 400 pounds, heavily weighted, would be dropped into the wreckage.

"An electric wire, connected with a battery, would be 'touched off'. We could use other explosives, if necessary, and the force of the explosions would be sure to bring all of the bodies to the surface."

10. Fill It With Compressed Air (In Order to Win the Cold War)

Did you know that in 1980 the United States successfully raised Titanic to the surface and sailed it into New York Harbor because they’d discovered that it contained a mysterious substance that could help knock Russian missiles out of the air? How did you miss that? Here, take a look:


OK, that might have been a clip from the film Raise the Titanic! In the film, which was based on Clive Cussler’s popular book of the same name, the secret to making it work is to inject enough compressed air into the sunken ship.

11. Create an Astonishing 3D Map of It Instead

Why raise Titanic when you can get an incredibly detailed look at it online? Thanks to the Expedition Titanic project, amazing 3D maps of Titanic are being created and an astonishing amount of detail is being assembled on the ship’s wreckage. The project’s website allows visitors to use interactive maps of the wreck and the debris field to learn about the ship – all while leaving it unharmed and in its final resting place.

Marshall McLuhan, the Man Who Predicted the Internet in 1962

Futurists of the 20th century were prone to some highly optimistic predictions. Theorists thought we might be extending our life spans to 150, working fewer hours, and operating private aircrafts from our homes. No one seemed to imagine we’d be communicating with smiley faces and poop emojis in place of words.

Marshall McLuhan didn’t call that either, but he did come closer than most to imagining our current technology-led environment. In 1962, the author and media theorist, predicted we’d have an internet.

That was the year McLuhan, a professor of English born in Edmonton, Canada on this day in 1911, wrote a book called The Gutenberg Galaxy. In it, he observed that human history could be partitioned into four distinct chapters: The acoustic age, the literary age, the print age, and the then-emerging electronic age. McLuhan believed this new frontier would be home to what he dubbed a “global village”—a space where technology spread information to anyone and everyone.

Computers, McLuhan said, “could enhance retrieval, obsolesce mass library organization,” and offer “speedily tailored data.”

McLuhan elaborated on the idea in his 1962 book, Understanding Media, writing:

"Since the inception of the telegraph and radio, the globe has contracted, spatially, into a single large village. Tribalism is our only resource since the electro-magnetic discovery. Moving from print to electronic media we have given up an eye for an ear."

But McLuhan didn’t concern himself solely with the advantages of a network. He cautioned that a surrender to “private manipulation” would limit the scope of our information based on what advertisers and others choose for users to see.

Marshall McLuhan died on December 31, 1980, several years before he was able to witness first-hand how his predictions were coming to fruition.

Arthur Shi, iFixit // CC BY-NC-SA 3.0
The New MacBook Has a Crumb-Resistant Keyboard
Arthur Shi, iFixit // CC BY-NC-SA 3.0
Arthur Shi, iFixit // CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

Soon, you won’t have to worry about ruining your Macbook’s keyboard with muffin crumbs. The 2018 MacBook Pro will feature keys specifically designed to withstand the dust and debris that are bound to get underneath them, according to Digital Trends. The keyboard will also be quieter than previous versions, the company promises.

The latter feature is actually the reasoning Apple gives for the new design, which features a thin piece of silicon stretching across where the keycaps attach to the laptop, but internal documents initially obtained by MacRumors show that the membrane is designed to keep debris from getting into the butterfly switch design that secures the keycaps.

Introduced in 2015, Apple’s butterfly keys—a change from the traditional scissor-style mechanism that the company’s previous keyboards used—allow the MacBook keyboards to be much thinner, but are notoriously delicate. They can easily become inoperable if they’re exposed to dirt and debris, as any laptop is bound to be, and are known for becoming permanently jammed. In fact, the company has been hit with multiple lawsuits alleging that it has known about the persistent problem for years but continued using the design. As a result, Apple now offers free keyboard replacements and repairs for those laptop models.

This new keyboard design (you can see how it works in iFixit's very thorough teardown), however, doesn’t appear to be the liquid-proof keyboard Apple patented in early 2018. So while your new laptop might be safe to eat around, you still have to worry about the inevitable coffee spills.

[h/t Digital Trends]


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