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Scientists say moon involved in ‘Titanic’ sinking

New research says the moon had a hand in the sinking of the Titanic nearly 100 years ago.

Astronomers at Texas State University – San Marcos say a rare lunar event impacted the ship. In January 1912, the moon was unusually close to Earth which caused the ocean’s tide to rise and free what would otherwise be trapped icebergs off Greenland and Newfoundland. The moon was closer than it had been in the previous 1,400 years while at the same time the Earth was on its closes approach to the sun.

“Of course, the ultimate cause of the accident was that the ship struck an iceberg. The Titanic failed to slow down, even after having received several wireless messages warning of ice ahead,” physicist Donald Olson said in a statement. “They went full speed into a region with icebergs—that’s really what sank the ship, but the lunar connection may explain how an unusually large number of icebergs got into the path of the Titanic.”

According to Reuters, Titanic’s captain Edward Smith has been criticized for his casual reaction to iceberg warnings the night of the disaster. He was the most experience captain at White Star, and he was known for being very cautious.

Typically, icebergs would sit trapped off the coast of Newfoundland, melting until they were freed. Smith was accustomed to these small, mostly harmless icebergs which would rarely cross the ship’s path. Due to the moon’s position so close to Earth however, icebergs were still full grown when they left Newfoundland in larger numbers than usual, due to the abnormally high tides.

“This configuration maximized the moon’s tide-raising forces on the Earth’s oceans,” said Olson. “That’s remarkable.”

Smith had no way of knowing these icebergs would be so dangerous or so numerous.

“In astronomical terms, the odds of all these variables lining up in just the way they did was, well, astronomical,” he added.