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11 Questionable Suggestions for Raising the Titanic

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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:

http://youtu.be/5Il7Hub5Vqs

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.

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Health
Growing Up With Headphones May Not Damage Kids’ Hearing
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A study published in the American Medical Association's JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery finds no increase in child and adolescent hearing loss despite a rise in headphone and earbud use.

"Hearing impairment in children is a major public health burden given its impact on early speech and language development, and subsequently on academic and workforce performance later in life," the authors write. "Even mild levels of hearing loss have been found to negatively affect educational outcomes and social functioning."

As portable music players continue to grow in popularity, parents, doctors, and researchers have begun to worry that all the music pouring directly into kids' ears could be damaging their health. It seems a reasonable enough concern, and some studies on American kids' hearing have identified more hearing loss.

To take a closer look, researchers at the University of California-San Francisco analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), collected from 1988 to 2010. They reviewed records from 7036 kids and teens between the ages of 12 and 19, checking each participant's hearing tests against their exposure to noise.

As expected, the authors write, they did find a gradual increase in headphone use and other "recreational noise exposure." And they did see an uptick in hearing loss from 1988 to 2008 from 17 percent to 22.5 percent. But after that, the trend seemed to reverse, sinking all the way down to 15.2 percent—lower than 1988 levels. They also found no significant relationship between noise exposure and hearing loss.

The results were not uniform; some groups of kids were worse off than others. Participants who identified as nonwhite, and those of lower socioeconomic status, were more likely to have hearing problems, but the researchers can't say for sure why that is. "Ongoing monitoring of hearing loss in this population is necessary," they write, "to elucidate long-term trends and identify targets for intervention."

Before you go wild blasting music, we should mention that this study has some major limitations. Hearing loss and other data points were not measured the same way through the entire data collection period. Participants had to self-report things like hearing loss and health care use—elements that are routinely under-reported in surveys. As with just about any health research, more studies are still needed to confirm these findings.

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Design
Glow-in-the-Dark Paths Come to Singapore
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Studio Roosegaarde's Van Gogh path in the Netherlands in 2014.

Glow-in-the-dark materials are no longer for toys. Photoluminescence can help cities feel safer at night, whether it’s part of a mural, a bike lane, or a highway. Glow-in-the-dark paths have been tested in several European cities (the above is a Van Gogh-inspired bike path by the Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde) and in Texas, but now, the technology may be coming to Singapore. The city-state is currently developing a 15-mile greenway called the Rail Corridor, and it now has a glow-in-the-dark path, as Mashable reports.

The 328-foot stretch of glowing path is part of a test of multiple surface materials that might eventually be used throughout the park, depending on public opinion. In addition to the strontium aluminate-beaded path that glows at night, there are also three other 328-foot stretches of the path that are paved with fine gravel, cement aggregate, and part-grass/part-gravel. The glow-in-the-dark material embedded in the walkway absorbs UV light from the sun during the day and can emit light for up to eight hours once the sun goes down.

However, in practice, glow-in-the-dark paths can be less dazzling than they seem. Mashable’s reporter called the glowing effect on Singapore’s path “disappointingly feeble.” In 2014, a glowing highway-markings pilot by Studio Roosegaarde in the Netherlands revealed that the first road markings faded after exposure to heavy rains. When it comes to glowing roads, the renderings tend to look better than the actual result, and there are still kinks to work out. (The studio worked the issue out eventually.) While a person walking or biking down Singapore’s glowing path might be able to tell that they were staying on the path better than if they were fumbling along dark pavement, it’s not the equivalent of a streetlight, for sure.

The trial paths opened to the public on July 12. The government is still gathering survey responses on people’s reactions to the different surfaces to determine how to proceed with the rest of the development. If the glow-in-the-dark path proves popular with visitors, the material could eventually spread to all the paths throughout the Rail Corridor. You can see what the glowing path looks like in action in the video below from The Straits Times.

[h/t Mashable]

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