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  1. #1
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    World's oldest message in a bottle found; 1914 drift bottle part of North Sea study

    Great article.

    New find recalls "amazing paths" of drifting documents since ancient times (nationalgeographic.com)
    Ensconced in a plain glass bottle, the scrap of paper drifted in the North Sea for 98 years. But when a Scottish skipper pulled it from his nets near the Shetland Islands last April, he didn't find a lovelorn note or marooned sailor's SOS.

    "Please state where and when this card was found, and then put it in the nearest Post Office," read the message. "You will be informed in reply where and when it was set adrift. Our object is to find out the direction of the deep currents of the North Sea."

    Sorry, romantics.

    The message in a bottle found by Andrew Leaper—certified by Guinness World Records on August 30 as the oldest ever recovered—belonged to a century-old science experiment. To study local ocean currents, Capt. C. Hunter Brown of the Glasgow School of Navigation set bottle number 646B adrift, along with 1,889 others, on June 10, 1914.
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    Of course, people have been putting messages in bottles for a lot longer than 98 years. Around 310 B.C., the Greek philosopher Theophrastus plopped sealed bottles in the sea to prove that the Mediterranean was formed by the inflowing Atlantic. (There's no record showing that he ever received a response.)

    In the 16th century, Queen Elizabeth I of England—thinking some bottles might contain secret messages sent home by British spies or fleets—appointed an "Uncorker of Ocean Bottles," making it a capital crime for anyone else to open one.
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    In the 20th century, doomed World War I soldiers used bottles to send last messages to loved ones. And in 1915, a passenger on the torpedoed Lusitania tossed a poignant note that read, according to one report, "Still on deck with a few people. The last boats have left. We are sinking fast. Some men near me are praying with a priest. The end is near. Maybe this note will—"
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    much, much more at link above

  2. #2
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    godot, do you understand the account of Theophrastus dropping sealed bottles into the Mediterranean (probably the Aegean) to prove that water flowed from the Atlantic to fill the Sea?

    I'm confused by the concept. I would think tides would push water back and forth at the mouth of the Mediterranean, thus exchanging ocean and sea water. But I can't find any reference of Theophrastus leaving the Greek world. So was he looking to see if his bottles all traveled through the Dardenelles to the Black Sea?

    And what was the "end-game" of his theory? That the Mediterranean would simply continue to rise until it flooded all surrounding lands? As you can see, I am very confused.

    (ETA I tried to find this answer on-line and failed.)

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nova View Post
    godot, do you understand the account of Theophrastus dropping sealed bottles into the Mediterranean (probably the Aegean) to prove that water flowed from the Atlantic to fill the Sea?

    I'm confused by the concept. I would think tides would push water back and forth at the mouth of the Mediterranean, thus exchanging ocean and sea water. But I can't find any reference of Theophrastus leaving the Greek world. So was he looking to see if his bottles all traveled through the Dardenelles to the Black Sea?

    And what was the "end-game" of his theory? That the Mediterranean would simply continue to rise until it flooded all surrounding lands? As you can see, I am very confused.

    (ETA I tried to find this answer on-line and failed.)
    Ya got me on this one. Even the North Sea thing requires thought. Anything beyond basic biology, zoology, and botany is a blank slate here in terms of things scientific.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by wfgodot View Post
    Ya got me on this one. Even the North Sea thing requires thought. Anything beyond basic biology, zoology, and botany is a blank slate here in terms of things scientific.
    I can understand the attempt to map North Sea currents in an era when funding for scientific vessels may not have been great. It's not the most certain method, but it may be the cheapest.

    I just can't see what dropping a bottle into the Aegean tells you about the tides and currents in Gibraltar, 2,000 miles to the East. But of course the Mediterranean and surrounding lands were practically the entire known world to Theophrastus--and I suppose he thought the Atlantic was the Great World Sea that encircled the "three continents" (Europe, Africa, Asia).

    So maybe it isn't possible for me to replicate his mind set.

    (The bottle experiment may also be a myth, which is why few of the sites I read discussed it. Professor T's specialty was botany, not oceanography.)

  5. #5
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    I think that Lusitania note was a hoax.
    The Lustania keeled over and sank so quick I dont beleive anyone had time to stand around on the deckand write a message... it wasnt like the Titanic that took almost 2-1/2 hours to to break up and go down.

  6. #6
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    Good point, kline. And while the sentence interrupted in the middle makes for good drama, it doesn't strike me as a likely way to write a note, not even in an emergency. How long does it take to scribble, "Sorry. Gotta go!"

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nova View Post
    Good point, kline. And while the sentence interrupted in the middle makes for good drama, it doesn't strike me as a likely way to write a note, not even in an emergency. How long does it take to scribble, "Sorry. Gotta go!"
    Or "...Sorry, will write more later if im not dead by drowning or hypothermia...Ta!"

  8. #8
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    The Lusitania was torpedoed and sunk 100 years ago today.
    This my opinion and to the best of my knowledge, that is, if I'm not joking.


    Stan Reid



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