Wacky Science and Mysterious Forces! Part Two
Painting by Yves Berube
After The Collision Between The Empress of Ireland and the Storstad
Was it possible that Professor Hensingmuller was right in his assumption that "Hertzian Rays" was the unknown mystery that had been causing so many disasters?
Marconi Officers aboard ships had often complained that electrical shocks would be more intense at night when they used the wireless telegraph, especially at night when there was more moisture in the air. Often these currents would severely hurt the operator.
Scientist knew that the electric current had the power of magnetizing pieces of iron lying within its field, and the intensity of this power varies in an extraordinary and often inexplicable manner. The wireless telegraph current has the same power of magnetizing bodies of iron, but how powerful the magnetization could not be determined at that moment. There is reason to believe that the wireless current undergoes great intensification under certain conditions. Thus the proximity of an electric cloud, a forest, or a river in a certain electrical condition may intensify the current many thousands of times its original force. If a whole ship should become strongly magnetized we can understand that it would exercise an almost irresistible attraction over another steel or iron ship. The ships moving through the yielding fluid medium of the water and making no allowance for the unknown attraction would be pulled into contact with one another before they realized that anything was amiss.
It seems to me that there is a strong suggestion of the working of this unknown magnetic force in the disaster in which the Storstad rammed the Empress of Ireland in the St. Lawrence River, sinking the latter ship and causing a total loss of life of over 1,012. The captain of the Empress of Ireland declared that his ship had stopped, while the chief officer of the Storstad said his ship, was proceeding at a slow rate of speed. Under these circumstances it seems very surprising that the Storstad should have struck the great Empress of Ireland with such tremendous force that - she sunk almost instantly.