by James A. Martin

iPad Magazine Revisits Titanic Tragedy in Vivid Detail

Mar 30, 20123 mins
Consumer ElectronicsTablets

The April 2012 issue of National Geographic showcases some amazing new high-definition images of the famous ocean liner Titanic’s catastrophic wreckage. And there's no better way to view it than on your iPad.

At 11:40 p.m. on April 14, 1912, the RMS Titanic hit an iceberg. At 2:20 a.m., the “unsinkable” ocean liner sank to the bottom of the frigid North Atlantic and into history.

One hundred years later, National Geographic magazine published some spectacular high-resolution images taken of the wreckage in its April 2012 issue. The pictures are awesome to behold in the magazine’s print edition—and even more amazing in their pinch-and-zoom, animated, interactive iPad versions.

National Geographic is available as a free iPad app, part of the iTunes Newsstand. The current issue, featuring the cool Titanic content, is available for $5 as a one-time download or as part of a $20-annual or $2-per-month subscription. And the newsstand copy of the same issue costs $6, making the iPad download a good deal not just for the savings but for the interactive features.

The National Geographic images are the result of “an ambitious multimillion-dollar expedition” in which three “state-of-the-art robotic vehicles” captured the Titanic in 2010 with a depth and clarity not seen before, writes historian and journalist Hampton Sides in National Geographic’s current issue.

“Bristling with side-scan and multibeam sonar as well as high-definition optical cameras snapping hundreds of images a second, the robots…(worked) back and forth across a three-by-five-mile target area of the ocean floor. These ribbons of data have now been digitally stitched together to assemble a massive high-definition picture in which everything has been precisely gridded and geo-referenced.”

In other words, this stuff is pure crack for Titanic geeks—including me.

The ghostly blue images of the wreck look, in the words of one Titanic expert, Picassoesque. On your iPad, you can pinch and zoom in on the ship’s bow and stern and rotate “the first ever three-dimensional model” of the Titanic’s bow, which was made from original ship designs, sonar scans, and thousands of high-res images, according to the magazine. (The images look amazing on the new iPad’s HD Retina display as well as on older models.)

Titanic National Geographic iPad

You can also explore the “crash scene” and tap on items on the ocean floor to learn more about them. Theres a well-written essay by James Cameron, too, the filmmaker whose hugely successful 1997 film Titanic is being re-released in 3D for the 100th anniversary of the ship’s sinking.

Finally, the iPad National Geo features a beautifully rendered animation that illustrates the latest thinking on what happened to the Titanic after its iceberg collision.

All of the same images and information are in the print edition, but the iPad vividly brings them to life. I use the quotation marks ironically because, however compelling the iPad rendering of the Titanic’s wreckage is, it’s important not to forget that the ship’s sinking was an epic tragedy that took 1,517 lives.