IOP claim physics guilty of Titanic sinking

The editorial to the IOP physics world claims the sinking of the Titanic to be caused by physics. The article then goes on to explain about the transition temperature of the steel (it seems that the toughness would be good enough for the steel to buckle) and the use of ONLY the Best rivets (rather than better Best-Best rivets which should have been used!).

In the mid-2000s two metallurgists, Tim Foecke at the US National Institute of Standards and Technology and Jennifer Hooper McCarty, then at Johns Hopkins University in the US, focused their attention on the composition of the Titanic’s rivets. They combined their metallurgical analysis with a methodical sweep through the records of the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast where the Titanic was built. Combining physical and historical analysis in this way proved to be a powerful trick.

Foecke and McCarty found that the rivets that held the mild-steel plates of the Titanic’s hull together were not of uniform composition or quality and had not been inserted in a uniform fashion. Specifically, Foecke and McCarty found that the rivets at the front and rear fifths of the Titanic were made only of “best” quality iron, not “best-best”, and had been inserted by hand. The reason for this was that, at the time of the Titanic’s construction, the hydraulic presses used to insert the rivets used in the middle three-fifths of the ship could not be operated where the curvature of the hull was too acute (i.e. at bow and stern).

physicsworld article

Titanic Belfast

Titanic Belfast is a visitor attraction and a monument to Belfast’s maritime heritage on the site of the former Harland and Wolff shipyard in the city’s Titanic Quarter. It tells the stories of the ill-fated RMS Titanic, which sank on her maiden voyage in 1912, and her sister ship RMS Olympic and HMHS Britannic. The building contains more than 12,000 square metres of floor space, most of which is occupied by a series of galleries, plus private function rooms and community facilities.

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