Would a bottle of wine from the Titanic still be drinkable?

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In August of 1985, a US Navy-sponsored expedition lead by marine archeologist Robert Ballard was struggling to find the wreck of the Titanic. Ballard and his crew were given twelve days to sweep a potential resting place of more than 150 square miles using new technology that allowed for exploration below 10,000 feet. One week into the expedition, Ballard and his crew propitiously stumbled across the Titanic’s “debris field,” a large trail of debris left by the ship as it broke in half and sank to the ocean floor.

The debris field contained millions of objects: suitcases, clothes, bathtubs, jugs, bowls, hand mirrors and numerous other personal effects. One item that caught Ballard’s eye in particular were fully intact wine bottles, which appeared to still contain their corks.

The number of wine bottles scattered around the Titanic—an ocean liner whose main appeal was its luxury—isn’t a surprise. The ship’s first class passengers enjoyed extremely elaborate, 10-course dinners, with accompanying wine pairings for each dish. Corks retreived from the wreck indicate that Champagne from Moët and Heidsieck & Co. was popular on board.

A man holds a lunch menu recovered from the Titanic.

Champagne-style wines were favoured on the Titanic because they could be easily chilled after being brought onto the ship. Bordeaux wines were less favoured because the rumble from the enormous steam engines could dislodge sediment from inside the bottle. To slake the thirst of its first class passengers, the Titanic held more than 12,000 bottles of wine in its cellar.

This begs the question: if photographs indicate that the wreck of the Titanic holds thousands of sealed, unbroken bottles, could some of that wine still be drinkable?

It’s difficult to say, mainly because samples from the wreck are few and far between. Ballard himself refused to take bottles of wine from the wreck, claiming that doing so would be tantamount to grave robbing:

“Maritime collectors around the world would have paid thousands of dollars for a piece of the ship… How I would have loved a bottle of Titanic champagne for my own wine cellar. But from all our discussions it became clear that the Titanic has no true archaeological value… Recovering a chamber pot or a wine bottle or a copper cooking pan would really just be pure treasure-hunting.”

Bottles claiming to be from the wreck of the Titanic do occasionally appear at auctions, but the ship’s extensive wine collection remains mostly undisturbed on the ocean floor.

Experts taste wine from a 151-year-old US Civil War shipwreck at an event in Charleston, South Carolina. Attendees claimed the wine tasted like “crab water, gasoline, salt water, vinegar, with hints of citrus and alcohol.”

If other wrecks are any indication, however, there is some hope. A shipment of wines that lay buried in a wreck on the ocean floor for 138 years off the coast of Georgia was retrieved and tasted by divers in 1979, who described the wines as “incredibly good” (the collection contained 1839 red Bergundy of Cru quality, 1834 Port and 1830 Madeira).

In 2010, Finnish divers discovered several crates of champagne and beer from a sunken ship that had been at the bottom of the Baltic Sea for nearly 200 years. When changing pressures caused one of the champagne corks to pop out of its bottle, the divers tasted the wine and found that it was still drinkable.

“Bottles kept at the bottom of the sea are better kept than in the finest wine cellars,” Champagne expert Richard Juhlin explains. If experts like Juhlin are right, if there is anywhere wine could survive for 100 years, it’s the bottom of the ocean.

Perhaps the closest comparison we have to the Titanic is the RMS Republic, another massive White Star ocean liner which sunk in 1909 when it collided with the SS Florida. A key difference between the two wrecks is that the Republic experienced relatively little loss of life, making salvage efforts less prone to accusations of grave robbing.

Expeditions to the Republic have found a similarly large collection of wines: Moët & Chandon and Dom Ruinart champagnes; several Mosels, other white wines of uncertain origin, and some Bordeaux. When divers from a 1987 expedition opened a bottle of 1898 Moët & Chandon Champagne from the wreck, they found the wine to be “effervescent” and “wonderful.” When they sent some of the bottles to the New York office of Christie’s auction house, however, the wines were found to be malodorous and unpleasant.

“The bottles they brought us were debris,” Robert Maneker of Christie’s told The Wine Spectator in 1987. Experts at the auction house determined that the wine bottles were nothing more than a collection of “curiosities,” like “shrunken heads,” and said that newspaper reports estimating that the bottles could be worth up to $4,000 were “absolutely rubbish.”

If past shipwrecks are any indication then, the Titanic’s wine collection could have met a variety of fates. Fluctuations in temperature, bacteria and water pressure could have removed the seals of the bottles completely. Seepage might also have slowly replaced the original contents of the bottles with saltwater. Or perhaps some of the Titanic’s wine collection lies on the ocean floor still intact, after more than a century of deep sea cellaring, still waiting to be tasted. ♦

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Harley-Davidson unveils new range of electric Bikes


Harley-Davidson has a special place in the hearts of motor-bike enthusiasts around the world.

The United States-founded company has been creating bikes for well over 100 years and its latest refocus on innovative technology has pushed the company to create an impressive series of bikes.

Harley-Davidsons  has unveiled its first ever electric motorcycles and an electric bicycle, in what is being seen as the most radical shakeup of the struggling company in its 115-year-history.

Matt Levatich, CEO of the Milwaukee-based company, said the new products were designed in response to changing times.

“We are not running away from our core,” he said.

The electric motorcycle range will include several of what Mr Levatich called “lightweight, urban” transportation products that are designed specifically to appeal to “young adults, globally, living in dense urban spaces.”

In 2014 the company signalled its interest in electric motorbikes with the LiveWire electric prototype, which will go on sale next summer. Earlier this year the company announced an investment in electric motorcycle company Alta Motors.

On Monday they presented as many as five more electric models – including lightweight, urban bikes – which will be on sale by 2022.

They also unveiled their electric bicycle.

LiveWire
Harley-Davidson’s LiveWire electric bike 

The company revealed plans to promote its motorbikes in emerging markets, with a small motorcycle model introduced in India in the next two years; a series of middleweight bikes in 2020 in Europe; and an expansion of ranges and distribution in China.

At the same time, the company will attempt to retain market dominance with the classic Harleys – full-size touring and cruiser motorcycles – that are the backbone of its international sales.

The all-electric bike is supposed to boast an approximate range of 110 miles or 177 km of mixed city/highway riding. Relatively quick in its electric bike class, the LiveWire has an acceleration of 0-60 mph with a time of 3.5 seconds.

Another major take away from the LiveWire unveiling centers around the bike’s connectivity. Harley-Davidson created a suite of connected services enabled by an LTE-connected Telematics Control Unit hidden under the bike’s seat.

This allows riders to stay fully connected to their bike and surrounding area to provide a better riding experience.

Two Prototypes

Harley- Davidson Unveils Its New Electric Bikes
Source: Harley-Davidson

Harley-Davidson also showed off their dirt bike and moped prototypes to the CES audience. Though there is very little known about the new electric bikes these bikes embody a radical a new beginning for the company; embracing a new design language and tech for the company.

Harley- Davidson Unveils Its New Electric Bikes
Source: Harley-Davidson

Jennifer Hoyer from Harley-Davidson’s Media relations described the products stating, “Both electric concepts provide enhanced attainability for customers around the world. These premium entry-level concepts widen accessibility both for new audiences, and the traditional Harley-Davidson customer.”

Harley- Davidson Unveils Its New Electric Bikes
Source: Harley-Davidson

“Our goal for these concepts is to not require a motorcycle license to operate and feature clutch-free operation, lowering the learning curve and increasing access to attract new riders in the process.”

 

Unlocking The Mysteries Of Ulfberht Swords, The All-Powerful Viking Swords

The all-powerful Ulfberht swords with blades so strong that it still baffles experts today.

Ulfberht Swords

When you think of medieval warfare, we think of swords. In the age before gunpowder, the best way to kill your enemy was usually just to stab him with a big hunk of steel.

But if you think that everyone was using swords, you might be a little off-base. Even if you tried to equip an entire army with swords, you would have quickly run into the biggest problem associated with warfare no matter the era: money.

Swords were incredibly expensive. Depending on where you lived, a good sword could cost about £1,200 to £24,000 in today’s money. Of course, it’s hard to directly translate the cost between the medieval period and today, simply because the economy worked so differently. But the bottom line is if you wanted a good sword, it wasn’t cheap.

But what if you wanted a really good sword? A sword that was so much better than everything else of its era that it was almost mythical? Then you needed an Ulfberht. And you had better bring some serious cash.

The Ulfberht swords, largely associated with Vikings, were basically like the Ferraris of their time. They were a symbol of wealth, status, and they would perform better than what most other people were using.

We don’t know much about who made the Ulfberht swords, but we do know that they were probably made in the Kingdom of Francia (around modern-day France and Germany). This was traditionally where the best swords were made, and the Ulfberht “brand” might have made the best swords in Francia.

These swords were said to have been sharper, stronger, and more flexible than anyone else’s. That gave the user a huge advantage in battle. You could block an enemy’s sword and trust that your blade wouldn’t shatter, which was a constant concern. And in an era where the best warriors wore mail coats, an Ulfberht sword would slice through that protection better than other swords.

It was the closest thing to a lightsaber in medieval Europe. And that’s actually a better comparison than you might think. That’s because the process used to make Ulfberht swords was centuries ahead of the competition. In fact, it wouldn’t be possible to replicate it on a large scale until the industrial revolution.

Viking Swords

The secret to Ulfberht swords was the distribution of carbon in the blade. Steel swords were made by mixing iron and carbon to produce steel. Add too much carbon and the sword becomes brittle and breaks. Add too little, and it will just bend. The Ulfberht swords used the perfect amount to produce blades that were sharper and more durable than anyone else’s.

But we’re still not entirely sure how the makers did that, though it may have involved borrowing some the techniques used by Arab smiths to produce the famous “Damascus Steel.”

The process involved using trace amounts of other minerals and heating them together with iron and carbon in a crucible to produce first-rate steel. And getting these materials from as far as India involved a global trade network you don’t usually associate with the period.

Were the makers of the Ulfberht swords using the same techniques? Possibly. If not, then they somehow produced something very similar to Damascus Steel on their own, with almost no impurities in the metal. And they quickly became famous, and probably rich, for it.

Most likely, steel was shipped up from the Arab empires or India through the rivers of Eastern Europe by traders. There, they were turned into swords in what is now Germany. Then they were sold to Norse and Frankish nobles who wanted a quality blade to use against their enemies. It’s hard to say exactly what an Ulfberht cost, but it was probably something only the richest noblemen could afford.

Ulfberht Sword Picture

There are about 170 true Ulfberht swords that have survived to the present day. They’re all in the traditional “Viking” style with a long, double-edged blade and a straight crossbar over the grip and all of them have the name “Ulfberht” stamped into the blade. Whoever was making the swords clearly understood the importance of branding.

But like any modern brand, the Ulfberht brand was quickly beset with imitators. Because Ulfberht swords were so famous, other people soon realized they could sell their swords for more by stamping the Ulfberht name on the blade, even if they didn’t use the same techniques. And since the people who bought these swords were relying on them for battle, this had deadly consequences.

Ulfberht is itself a Frankish personal name. That might imply that the original inventor was a man named Ulfberht. But since the swords were made for about 200 years, he certainly wasn’t the only one producing them.

And because there are so many imitation swords out there, figuring out who originally created the mythic Ulfberht swords or where they did it has baffled archeologists for decades, and will likely long remain a mystery.

The Green Off-Roader Rivians R1S electric SUV unveiled

Rivian R1S electric SUV unveiled

Electric car start-up Rivian has revealed its second model, the R1S. The seven-seat SUV follows the reveal earlier this week of the R1T pick-up truck, with models due for a public debut at the LA motor show.

Rivian is hoping to have the kind of impact Tesla has made in shaking up the established automotive set and believes it has found a niche with the creation of go-anywhere electric vehicles.

The R1T and R1S, the first and second in a series of models eventually planned, are built on a bespoke electric ‘skateboard’ chassis, that’s modular and can be used on all different types and sizes of vehicles. The initial pair are closely related, the chief difference being a slightly shorter wheelbase in the R1S. The R1S is 5040mm long, making it Range Rover-sized, while the 5465mm-long R1-T is marginally longer than the Mercedes-Benz X-Class.

In both cars the lithium-ion battery pack is mounted in the floor, and in the in the R1T is good for a 230-mile range in its standard 105kWh capacity, 300-mile range in a 130kWh capacity, or up to 400 miles with the 180kWh ‘mega pack’. In the R1S, the same battery packs are offered with figures of 240, 310 and 420 miles respectively.

The two models share their drivetrains, too. Four electric motors, one for each wheel, give the electric models four-wheel drive. Each motor produces 197bhp (total combined figures through the gearbox are 754bhp and 826lb ft in the 135kWh version), which allows for prodigious performance. It’s claimed both vehicles can crack 0-60mph in just 3.0sec, and 0-100mph in less than 7.0sec in the 135kWh versions.

Double wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension features, alongside air springs and adaptive dampers. Rivian claims the electric drivetrain and chassis set-up allows for both impressive on-road performance and handling and precise off-road control that surpasses any existing mechanical solutions off the asphalt. Its flat floor is also reinforced with carbonfibre and Kevlar to protect the battery pack, while both models get five-star crash test safety ratings in the US.

A distinctive front-end exterior design appears on both cars, while the spacious interiors get premium but durable materials that are easy to clean, in keeping with the cars’ off-road lifestyle brief. Two screens feature inside, that run Rivian’s own software and graphics.

There are packs of novel hidden features and clever solutions in both models, including a 330-litre front storage under the nose, and in the truck a full width storage hole that runs between the rear doors and rear wheels that’s good for housing golf clubs.

Rivian, first formed in 2009, is looking to do things differently to other start-ups by having its entire business plan and funding in place before going public with its intentions, and even then keeping targets conservative.

Company founder and CEO, RJ Scaringe, has already gone through two stillborn versions of the R1T to get to this third, production-ready version.

The US-based company is backed by investors from the Middle East, and employs some 560 people worldwide. It’s design and engineering centre is based in Plymouth, Michigan and other key sites include a battery development facility in Irvine, California. It has opened an advanced engineering centre in Chertsey, Surrey, too.

Manufacturing will take place at an old Mitsubishi plant in Illinois, which Rivian purchased for $16 million (£12.5m) last year. This has a capacity of up to 350,000 units per year.

Rivian’s initial ambitions are much lower than that initially, with plans to be selling some 50-60,000 of its premium electric off-roaders by 2025/26. It does however plan to offer its electric skateboard chassis to other companies, either car makers or indeed any brand looking to launch an electric car, so long as their products do not compete with Rivian’s own. The R1T will go into production in late 2020 with the R1S in early 2021, the former prices from around $70,000 (£55,000). Right-hand drive production for the UK will follow around a year later.

The R1T will go into production in late 2020, with the R1S following in early 2021. Prices for the former will start from $61,500 after federal tax rebates (£48,000), with Rivian accepting refundable $1000 pre-order deposits now. Right-hand drive production for the UK will follow around a year later.

Deliveries of electric pickup truck scheduled to begin late in 2020.

 

 

 

 

 

Windowless planes will give passengers a panoramic view of the sky

Ever since air travel was invented, people have been fighting over the window seat. Not any more! The Center for Process Innovation, a British technology and research firm, is creating the future of air travel!

The futuristic planes will actually be windowless. Instead, the entire length of the plane will be covered in OLED touch screens. Essentially giving everyone in plane a virtual window seat!

Within 10 to 15 years these planes could hopefully be a reality!

The touch screens with be connected to cameras that are place all over the outside of the plane. This allows the screens to display a realistic view of what is going on around the plane outside.

If you get sick of looking at the sky, you can turn the virtual window into an entertainment system as well.

Not familiar with OLED-touch screen technology? OLED is an abbreviation for organic light-emitting diode. This means that there is a film comprised of organic compounds the is capable of projecting light as a reaction to an electrical current.

It might sound scientific, but this tech is currently being used in televisions, tablets, mobile phones, and computer monitors. By the time these planes are actually manufactured. there will most likely be a more advanced screen on the market.

With the entire walls of the plane filled with screens, passengers could look out at the view surrounding them and never have to worry about getting a good seat again.

They say the projections on the screens will reflect the real world outside, I’m sure this new technology will excite a few conspiracy theorists.

This cool, new concept isn’t without its setbacks. Many people have raised concerns that the amount of light caused by all the screens might cause some passengers discomfort.

You can watch the video below to learn more about the future of transportation!

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The invisible Superyacht.

Plans for an ‘invisible’ superyacht which blends into the sea and makes those on board feel like they are ‘floating on air’ have been unveiled.

The 106-metre Mirage, which could cost as much as £200million, will be completely clad in specially mirrored glass which reflects the image of the sea back to onlookers.

This will make it look as if the 4,200-tonne vessel has ‘vanished’ to people from as little as 50 metres away – though any radar will still detect the yacht with plenty of time to manoeuvre. Meanwhile, the yacht’s own radar can also look out for smaller boats on a collision course, giving the captain time to take any evasive action.

'Invisible' superyacht: Mirage has been designed to 'vanish' into the sea and give its billionaire owner some privacy

 

‘Invisible’ superyacht: Mirage has been designed to ‘vanish’ into the sea and give its billionaire owner some privacy

 

Mirage will be completely clad in specially mirrored glass which reflects the image of the sea back to onlookers, making it invisible from 50 metres away

 

Designed to be the ultimate purchase for privacy-hungry billionaires, Mirage comes fully equipped with a helipad, spa, outdoor theatre and cinema.

The six-decked craft can sleep 14 guests and 29 crew members, and can cruise at a comfortable speed of 19 knots.

It was developed by Italian boatbuilders Fincantieri and Dutch firm Van Geest Designs to ‘disappear between water and sky’ and ‘blend into the horizon’.

Designer Pieter Van Geest said it had taken a year to develop the blueprints and would take another three and a half years to construct.

The six-decked craft can sleep 14 guests and 29 crew members, and can cruise at a comfortable speed of 19 knots

 

The six-decked craft can sleep 14 guests and 29 crew members, and can cruise at a comfortable speed of 19 knots

 

One of the 4,200-tonne vessel's stunning decks with luxurious steps leading between levels and striking glass fittings

One of the 4,200-tonne vessel’s stunning decks with luxurious steps leading between levels and striking glass fittings

 

A dining area on one of the superyacht's spacious decks with room to accommodate dozens of guests for parties

A dining area on one of the superyacht’s spacious decks with room to accommodate dozens of guests for parties

 

Mirage comes fully equipped with a helipad, spa, outdoor theatre and cinema. Pictured: The designers' vision of one of the six decks

Mirage comes fully equipped with a helipad, spa, outdoor theatre and cinema. Pictured: The designers’ vision of one of the six decks

‘The longest part was researching the reflective glass and how it would be built,’ he said.

‘The main reason in designing this yacht was to make something that belonged to its environment.

‘Most yachts nowadays stand out and break the horizon or the landscape, in a way, we have tried to minimise this effect.

A luxurious swimming pool area on the 'invisible' superyacht surrounded by satellites of sun loungers inches from the ocean

A luxurious swimming pool area on the ‘invisible’ superyacht surrounded by satellites of sun loungers inches from the ocean

 

The £200million vessel has steps leading down into the sea so its billionaire owner can take a dip from one of the lower decks

The £200million vessel has steps leading down into the sea so its billionaire owner can take a dip from one of the lower decks

‘The colour variable mirrored glass is developed by a German glass manufacturer, which has never been used on yachts before.

‘All the vertical panels on the yacht will have this finish. If you were on the water it would probably be invisible from over 50 metres away.

‘If you are on the yacht itself the mirror will project the yacht’s surroundings, so in a way, it will give you a floating on air effect when onboard.’

The 106-metre vessel was developed by Italian boatbuilders Fincantieri and Dutch firm Van Geest Designs to 'disappear between water and sky' and 'blend into the horizon'

The 106-metre vessel was developed by Italian boatbuilders Fincantieri and Dutch firm Van Geest Designs to ‘disappear between water and sky’ and ‘blend into the horizon’

 

Designer Pieter Van Geest said it had taken a year to develop the blueprints and would take another three and a half years to construct

Designer Pieter Van Geest said it had taken a year to develop the blueprints and would take another three and a half years to construct

Mr Van Geest declined to put a price on the Mirage, but maritime experts suggested £200million would be reasonable for such a unique, luxury vessel.

If that was an accurate price tag it would place Mirage in the top 10 of the world’s most expensive yachts.

The list is currently topped by the £4billion History Supreme, which is made of solid gold and owned by Malaysia’s richest man, Robert Knok.