Mysteries of Life: how do huge ships crash into other huge ships?

That’s what I ponder every time I read a piece of news — like this, about an Iranian oil tanker that collided with a “bulk freighter” of variegated registry/ownership in the South China Sea.

I understand crashes of smaller objects, like vehicles. They are, after all, usually on the same highway, even if on the other side, and people fall asleep, brakes fail, the infrastructure of vehicles get into funny situations (I remember at least one CSI dealing with a crash of a bus which was sabotage but it took a whole hour to figure it out).

But here we’re talking about an ocean. Yes, there are numerous vessels using that ocean to get somewhere else but it’s not like U.S. 95, is it? Where once outside of Westport, CT, my Kia rental car went dead in the middle lane at rush hour.

An ocean. And two massively huge boats. So how do they manage to bump into each other? Isn’t someone, um, watching the route? And since vessels do not travel at 70 mph, it isn’t as if there isn’t time to turn the wheel when whoever is steering sees a huge thing way too close to his huge thing.

But no. They crashed. And the Iranian tanker burst into flames. And kept burning.

And eventually sank. With its entire crew.

I don’t know how to drive a boat but I maintain if I were at that…is it called a wheel? you know, the thing you steer…even I could not manage to crash into another boat in the middle of a big pond. Even if I were not wearing my contact lenses and were nearly blind I would espy another object as big as three football fields.

The US Navy is beginning to think as I do — if you crash a big boat into another big boat in the middle of a big sea, you can’t just walk off the boat and say, “Oh, hey, my bad. Sorry.”

But still, it doesn’t solve that mystery. How could a massive vessel chugging along in a massive ocean bump into another massive vessel similarly occupied?


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The Facts of Life: do you feel confident you can identify them?

If so, you’re only one American out of 27 percent who do. From 538 Significant Digits:

27 percent

Percentage of Americans who said they were very confident that they were capable of telling if a news source was reporting factual news rather than opinion. That is way too low for comfort. [Knight Foundation]

I’d so like to believe that at least some of those 27 percent learned how to get the facts of life from a news source by reading my series, The Facts of Life, which begins with my introduction and goes on to How I Learned the Facts of Life: Shame, and continues with:

How I Learned the Facts of Life (reading newspapers)

How I Learned the Facts of Life: Professor George Young

Malcolm Forbes and the Game of Telephone

There’s more, too. Search on The Facts of Life and ye shall find.


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Mysteries of Life: Bitcoin uh-oh or opportunity?

Beats me. But, from 538 Significant Digits:

47 percent

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies took a serious tumble on Tuesday, with Bitcoin’s value dropping almost 25 percent in 24 hours and down by 47 percent from its all-time high in December. There were similar double-digit drops for Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, Dash, Monero and Ethereum. [Ars Technica]

P.S. All in all, I like the name Ethereum the best. It suggests, you know, breathing in eternal nothingness.

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