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TITANIC 'UNLIKELY' TO SINK AGAIN, says prof - apparently

Science PRs plumb new depths as centenary approaches

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The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

Amazing news on the science wires this morning as - by an amazing coincidence, just ahead of the centenary of the tragedy ocean collision plunge sinking of famous real-life blockbuster movie ocean liner Titanic - we read the headline: Titanic Disaster 'Unlikely to Happen Again'!

That might seem obvious as the Titanic remains firmly on the Atlantic seabed onto which she sank after a rare conjunction of the Moon, by sheer fluke, hurled an iceberg into her path in a freak mass drowning destruction horror incident fashioned of pure human-drama box office gold.

The chances of the Titanic being raised somehow from the freezing ocean depths, restored lovingly once more to her full fin-de-siècle glory (complete with inadequate lifeboats, incompetent officers and foolish owners hell-bent on a risky northern shortcut) and then crammed with a quirky complement of passengers bringing with them a medley of interwoven, compelling human stories - doubtless including a pair of star-crossed young lovers, plight made yet more poignant by their overshadowing appointment with fate - would seem so slim as to be nonexistent. But yet, there's the headline - apparently acknowledging this as a definite possibility.

What could this mean? We read on, and find the disappointing reality.

A ship science expert, Professor Ajit Shenoi, says that a seafaring tragedy on the scale of the Titanic disaster is unlikely to happen again.

Offside! We here on the Reg boffinry desk thought the science media had already plumbed the depths pretty deep with the centennial rash of recent, utterly spurious, here's-one-I-did-earlier Titanic-related "scientific discoveries" (lunar conjunction, duff rivets, James Cameron finds basically nothing at the bottom of the Mariana Trench etc etc). But this is a new low. We don't blame Prof Shenoi - we rather suspect he was dragooned into this project by the PR staff at his university, and we'd lay long odds he had nothing to do with the headline.

Even so, this is surely proof-if-it-were-needed that at times it's the (pre-planned) "news" agenda driving the science, not the science driving the news. ®

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