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In Germany, a Message-in-a-Bottle Found 108 Years After Its Release 57

schwit1 writes with a report that an early 20th century experiment has generated a belated data point. One of many floating bottles released 108 years ago to study currents was recently found by a German couple; it washed up on a beach in Amrum, Germany. From The Independent: When the couple unfurled the note inside, they found a message in English, German and Dutch. It asked the finder to fill in some information on where and when they had found the bottle, before returning it to the Marine Biological Association in Plymouth. It said whoever did so would be rewarded with one shilling. Communications director of the Marine Biological Association, Guy Baker, told The Daily Telegraph: "It was quite a stir when we opened that envelope, as you can imagine." Once at the association, staff recognised the bottle was one of 1,020 released into the North Sea between 1904 and 1906 as part of a project to test the strength of currents. Mr Baker told the paper: "It was a time when they were inventing ways to investigate what currents and fish did. Many of the bottles were found by fishermen trawling with deep sea nets. Others washed up on the shore, and some were never recovered. Most of the bottles were found within a relatively short time. We're talking months rather than decades."
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In Germany, a Message-in-a-Bottle Found 108 Years After Its Release

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  • by r1348 ( 2567295 ) on Sunday August 23, 2015 @04:13PM (#50375601)

    "Don't trust that Hitler guy. I know he's never gonna make it but you never know..."

    • Hitler would have been 15 years old in 1904.

      Better to advise he's kind of a passable mediocre painter but encourage him to pursue art anyway

    • Actually, it would have been more amusing, if the actual message was an announcement of the latest release of Duke Nukem . . . really soon now!

    • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

      "Don't trust that Hitler guy..."

      "as an artist. Make him get a day job, perhaps in dentistry or politics."

    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      More likely: "Tell Archduke Ferdinand to watch his back."

  • 1 shilling in 1904 is worth five quid now!

  • by Okian Warrior ( 537106 ) on Sunday August 23, 2015 @04:15PM (#50375619) Homepage Journal

    This is one of those situations where a sense of humor could make an interesting story into a great story.

    The Marine Biological Association in Plymouth should buy a 1904 shilling (on eBay around $13) and send it to the German couple.

    It would be the perfect story ending, generate some good-natured publicity, and the bottle and note are probably antiques of historical value. (Imagine the bottle and note in the Salem maritime museum [pem.org] (Peabody Essex Museum), with the above-mentioned story ending in the description.)

    • by Anonymous Coward

      FTFA:
      "True to their word, the association sent a shilling to the couple as the promised payment."

    • by dotancohen ( 1015143 ) on Sunday August 23, 2015 @04:54PM (#50375787) Homepage

      The Marine Biological Association in Plymouth should buy a 1904 shilling (on eBay around $13) and send it to the German couple.

      You are absolutely not going to believe this, but the fine article has a photograph of the couple who found the bottle posing with the one shilling payment that they received.

    • by quenda ( 644621 )

      should buy a 1904 shilling

      Score:5 shows the mods don't bother to even skim TFA either. (There is a friggin' big PHOTO of the couple holding their schilling.)
      Maybe we need a captcha-style question on TFA before anyone can post or moderate.

      And BTW, the bottle was smashed, so no longer a great museum exhibit.

  • I find it hard to believe that bottle was so clean. Usually things out at sea over a large period of time become covered in pelagic barnacles [google.com].
    • Re:Clean bottle? (Score:5, Informative)

      by rubycodez ( 864176 ) on Sunday August 23, 2015 @04:48PM (#50375759)

      bottle collectors have easy way to clean barnacles and coral off bottles found at sea. Get 32 percent (20 baum) hydrochloric acid from hardware store, add to equal part water, and soak bottle for a couple of days in that (wearing rubber gloves to protect your skin obviously while handling bottles). then rinse with water. I assume that's what was done with the bottle in picture.

      • as afterthought for the inexperienced, of course this is to be done outside, using plastic five or ten gallon bucket not metal, don't breath the acid fumes, don't splash in eyes (wrap around goggles might be good idea), have ready water source for washing away any accidental spills onto body or anything else not proof against HCl

      • I would have a try with warm vinegar to see how far it goes.

      • by koick ( 770435 )
        There's nothing to suggest that the people who found it are "bottle collectors" and know of this technique. From TFA: "was on holiday when she spotted the unusual bottle floating".
      • We just use white vinegar in the lab to clean barnacle fouled instruments, it may take a little longer but works great.
    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      I find it hard to believe that bottle was so clean. Usually things out at sea over a large period of time become covered in pelagic barnacles.

      The bottle was smashed. I'm pretty sure that the one in the photo was probably just a stock photo or an example one.

      And it's not like the couple didn't try to not smash the bottle - they carefully opened it and they couldn't get the paper out. So they smashed it like the outside of the bottle said - break bottle.

      Given the article was posted long after the couple found

  • I bet it smelled funny
  • Fanmail from some flounder?
  • A few words ... encode them as ASCII, divide by 108 years -- what does that come out as a bit rate ?/p?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      ~100 characters, if we're going by how it would've been encoded for digital transmission at the time (5-bit baudot) we have 500 bits. 108 years is 3.4 gigaseconds. Data rate therefore is in the vicinity of 150 nanobit/second.

  • Some competition for Comcast.

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