Was it even the Titanic?
Everyone agrees that a luxury liner set sail on April 10, 1912, and sank five days later, taking the lives of around 1500 of the 2223 passengers aboard. But that’s pretty much where the consensus ends. Some insist the ship that sank wasn’t the Titanic, but rather, the nearly identical R.M.S. Olympic. As the story goes, the Olympic had been damaged in an accident the year before, but in order to score a bigger insurance payoff, the ships’ common owners passed off the Olympic as the Titanic and then deliberately sank it. While there are lots of holes in this Titanic theory, serial numbers found on parts of the ship that didn’t sink support it.
Did a fire actually seal the ship’s fate?
A recent documentary offers credible evidence that the Titanic (let’s just call it that, for argument’s sake) had been damaged by a coal fire, which had been raging for three weeks before the ship even set sail. The damage would have weakened the hull of the ship, thus hastening the ship’s sinking when it collided with an iceberg. (If it collided with an iceberg, which is another Titanic mystery we discuss below.)
Why was the captain speeding?
For decades, people believed that Captain Smith was speeding through the iceberg-heavy waters of the North Atlantic because he wanted the Titanic to cross the Atlantic faster than her sister ship, the Olympic. But in 2004, the Geological Society of America published an academic paper by engineer Robert H. Essenhigh with a different theory: It claimed the real reason the Titanic’s captain was speeding was to burn coal as quickly as possible in order to control the coal fire mentioned above.