When Worlds Collide, by Nalaka Gunawardene

Text of my ‘When Worlds Collide’ column published in Ceylon Today Sunday newspaper on 15 April 2012

Exactly one hundred years ago today, RMS Titanic — the world’s largest passenger ship — sank on her maiden trans-Atlantic voyage.

Several worlds collided on that night of 14/15 April 1912, with results that shook and horrified the world. Its reverberations are felt even today, a century later, and its lessons are still valid.

When the floating city disappeared in the open seas off Newfoundland, Canada, humanity’s technological grandiosity was literally reduced to debris. The Titanic disaster has been attributed to many factors, among them overconfidence of its designers, builders and operators.

For example, J Bruce Ismay, director of the White Star Line that owned the passenger liner, had argued that carrying the full complement of lifeboats was unnecessary: after all, the ship was ‘unsinkable’!

Besides, it was fitted with the latest wireless…

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