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The Science of Shipwrecks

Cathryn Newton

Cathryn Newton

January 26, 2017

 A legendary Honors course, taught by Cathryn Newton, uses maritime tragedies to illuminate both science and human culture

On New Year’s Eve in 1862, the USS Monitor sank in a violent storm at Cape Hatteras, off North Carolina’s windswept coast. Sixteen of her 62 sailors perished. One survivor, a surgeon named Grenville Weeks, lost three fingers and the permanent use of his right arm, after being wedged between two rescue boats. “We watched from the deck of the Rhode Island [Monitor’s supply ship] the lonely light upon the Monitor’s turret,” he recalled in an essay in The Atlantic Monthly. “A hundred times we thought it had gone forever, a hundred times it reappeared—till, at last, it sank, and we saw it no more.” Read more...