Page 220 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 27 - 31
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satisfied myself about the correctness of that theory; but I suppose it is a sort of phosphorescent light from the white iceberg which has been subject to the influence of the sun all day. I do not believe it is the sunlight being absorbed and given out; but that blink undoubtedly does come. There is no doubt about that. The Commissioner: A great many people talk about this ice-blink and I was wondering whether it was caused by the reflection of the starlight upon the crystals. Sir Robert Finlay: I do not think so, my Lord; I have no satisfactory theory. The Commissioner: Let me read this to you. It is out of “The United States Pilot,” 1909 edition, at page 35: - “During a fog or in the darkest night, the proximity of the position of an iceberg may frequently be known if a good look-out is kept by a peculiar whitening of the fog known as ice-blink.” I do not know whether there is any other reference to ice-blink in this book. Sir Robert Finlay: I am not aware that there is, my Lord, but they have not been speaking about fog. The Commissioner: It is not a very clear passage. Sir Robert Finlay: No, it is not at all clear. The Commissioner: Because they apparently assume one of two conditions, either a very dark night or a fog. Sir Robert Finlay: If you get a very dark night without a fog how can you have a peculiar whitening of the fog which is not there? The Commissioner: That is what I mean. Sir Robert Finlay: I think it is really a condition independent of the fog. It is undoubtedly a sort of light given off from the iceberg. What the theory of it is I am unable to explain. In the second part of this same book, my Lord, at page 22, there occurs this passage: “Both by day and night the ice-blink is almost always visible on the sky towards the ice. Ice-blink is a bright yellowish white light near the horizon reflected from the snow covered ice and seen before the ice itself is visible.” Of course, if there is reflection there must be some source from which the light is proceeding, which is reflected, and they say that in the darkest night or even in a fog you may have it; so that it is left somewhat obscure what the precise explanation of the phenomenon is. About the fact there is no doubt whatever. I had better read what Sir Ernest Shackleton says about it. It is at page 721, Question 25069. “(Q.) We have been told of the phenomenon of the ice-blink? - (A.) Yes. (Q.) Would that be affected at all by the night we have had described or is it a variable thing. - (A.) On a night such as you have described, if there was a big field of ice, the blink would most certainly be seen very, very clearly. If there was really what we call big fields, miles and miles of ice, then you would see the edge, what we call the water sky, that is where the ice-field ends. (Q.) But you would not expect to get the ice-blink with an iceberg? - (A.) No, I would not.” I confess I do not quite understand that answer in view of all the other evidence and the passages from “The United States Pilot” which have been referred to. “(Q.) Does that mean it does not throw off any of its luminosity? - (A.) Well it does not reflect any light that there may be, one single berg; it takes ice in the mass to do that; it is like a whole lot of deck lights along the side of a ship; they look one glare instead of isolated things.” The evidence is absolutely unanimous that in the North Atlantic - I do not know how it is near the South Pole - the ice-blink is expected. You do not always see it, but it is a very common thing, and from an iceberg. Then he is examined by myself. He gives the tonnage of his boat. That is Question 25074. I find I overstated it; it is not 300 tons, it is 227 tons. The Commissioner: Did Sir Ernest Shackleton navigate the seas down to this point in a wooden ship of this sort? Sir Robert Finlay: Yes, he did. He started from New Zealand. It was a most gallant exploit. I
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