MythBusters solve Titanic mystery

2012-10-09 10:29

One of popular culture’s most enduring mysteries has finally been solved: could both Rose and Jack in the epic film Titanic have survived?
The Discovery Channel’s MythBusters show did the research and experiments to finally find the surprising answer.

It’s exactly 100 years since the sinking of the Titanic and the MythBusters presenters Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman finally decided to recreate the circumstances in the icy cold Atlantic ocean from the blockbuster movie in which Rose is on a wooden board (and barely survives) with Jack clinging on the side until he dies from hypothermia and sinks.

The question of whether both Jack and Rose could have survived if they did something differently – like both stayed on the wooden board and tied her life jacket underneath the board – is the most requested myth the show has ever received.

Titanic director James Cameron appeared in the episode to explain that even he is uncertain and wanted to find out if his blockbuster film got it right or wrong, and whether both Jack and Rose could have lived.

The surprising answer is… yes.

MythBusters built what they called ThermoMan, a dummy with gelatine flesh and a water-heated cardiovascular system which was dropped into freezing water and determined that Jack would have died after 51 minutes in the frigid Atlantic.

He would not have been able to hold on to the board and would have sunk exactly as in the movie.

Full-scale test
Doing a full-scale test on an exact replica of the board from the movie in water with one person wearing a customised life jacket from the period, the board would have sunk too deep into the water and both would have frozen if two people tried to get on it.

However, if the life jacket was fastened underneath the board, it would still have sunk with two people on top, although 80% of their bodies would have been out of the water.

It would, however, have taken multiple attempts for two people to get and remain on the board and not topple over or slide off.
That would have given both 63 minutes before they died of hypothermia.

“It’s plausible that both Jack and Rose could have survived on the board if they’d MacGyvered her life jacket,” said Hyneman.

James Cameron said the MythBusters missed the point a bit. “Jack died. He has to die. So maybe we screwed up and the board should have been a little tiny bit smaller, but the dude’s going down.”

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