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Australia Communications Science

132-Year-Old Science Experiment Washes Ashore In Australia (npr.org) 55

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The New York Times (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternative source): A message in a bottle was tossed off the side of a German ship on June 12, 1886, as it sailed through the Indian Ocean, the date and location penned carefully in script on the scroll inside. In January, more than 131 years after the bottle was set adrift, an Australian woman walking on the beach noticed the thick, discolored glass of an old bottle poking through the sand. The bottle -- and the message -- had been found. It is believed to be the oldest known message in a bottle ever recovered. The woman, Tonya Illman, discovered the tokens from another era while walking on a beach near Wedge Island, in Western Australia.

The Illmans took their discovery to the Western Australian Museum, which verified that the bottle and the note date back to the 19th century. The museum contacted experts in the Netherlands and Germany for more information, and confirmed that the bottle had been dropped from a German vessel called the Paula. A search of German archives uncovered the Paula's original Meteorological Journal, and in a captain's entry from June 12, 1886, researchers discovered a reference to the bottle, thrown overboard as the ship was sailing from Cardiff, Wales, to Makassar, Indonesia. The date and the coordinates matched. The bottle had been tossed into the Indian Ocean from the ship as part of a decades-long experiment by the German Naval Observatory to understand ocean currents. Thousands of bottles were thrown into the ocean around the world from German ships between the 1860s and the 1930s, each with a form bearing the date and location where it had been tossed into the sea, the name of the ship, its home port and the travel route, the Western Australian Museum said.

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132-Year-Old Science Experiment Washes Ashore In Australia

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  • by alvinrod ( 889928 ) on Thursday March 08, 2018 @11:40PM (#56231635)
    What a strange era for people to sign their litter. At least we know who to fine.

    Perhaps someone should tell the homeless in San Francisco, Seattle, or other cities to sign their trash and they too can be a part of science.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      This comment is not really a troll, more like sarcasm on the state of modern thinking; fines and penalties Everywhere

      Australia promptly fines Germany for littering the beach applying compounding interest for a fee of $1,230,000

      • by mysidia ( 191772 )

        Germany appeals stating, that Australia has no proof of what date the bottle landed on their beach countersues Australia for secretly holding their missing bottle on their shoreline; applies a penalty fine for the petty theft and adds many years of compounding interest for a charge to Australia of $1,230,000.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Neat

  • Again? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 08, 2018 @11:50PM (#56231671)

    It's good to know that I can rely on Slashdot to repost news interest pieces literally days after everybody else. Yes it's an interesting story but if you're going to be late to the party maybe have more information or don't post it at all? Slashdot content should either be timely or unique or else we can all just go to the BBC or NYT direct and save ourselves a step. Over the past six months /. has been increasingly more and more reposts of major websites' content.

    • Re:Again? (Score:5, Funny)

      by DontBeAMoran ( 4843879 ) on Friday March 09, 2018 @12:10AM (#56231733)

      Well, compared to the bottle Slashdot is still extremely fast.

      • At least the bottle wasn't stuffed full of messages from the GNAA.

        "Only bottles can bottle bottle bottle bottles! BOTTLES!"

        • Re:Again? (Score:5, Funny)

          by cold fjord ( 826450 ) on Friday March 09, 2018 @02:01AM (#56232043)

          At least the bottle wasn't stuffed full of messages from the GNAA.

          What do you have against the German Nautical Analytics Association?

          Let me guess - you joined as part of a wave of applicants after some major oceanographic event, stormed off after some unintended insult, drifted off into other interests, didn't keep your dues current, and now you wind up here, complaining about them. I've heard that one before.

      • "132-Year-Old Science Article Washes Ashore On Slashdot"
    • by elrous0 ( 869638 )

      Spoiler alert, the 132-year-old science experiment turns out to be Madonna.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I haven't seen this posted anywhere else

    • by higuita ( 129722 )

      thank you, but i didn't read this in any other place, this was the first time i saw this... so maybe what you read is the same as the submitter use, but not everyone read that same source

    • Why is this insightful? /. is basically the only news site I read.
      I'm happy that the lost bottle of my grand grand pa finally is found.

      Please contact me via eMail to talk about the details for shipping it back to me and my family.

  • The Indian Ocean seems to be the place to be if you want to get lost permanently. MH370 likely went down there and this bottle took forever to make it out.

    If you want to dump something and not have it wash ashore the IO is the place to be.

  • How was it sealed? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by freeze128 ( 544774 ) on Friday March 09, 2018 @12:04AM (#56231707)
    I wonder how the bottle was sealed. If it was a cork, I'm surprised that it didn't rot or leak after 130 years.
    • Maybe they used an aluminium-carbon-nanofiber composite?

      Oh wait, it's from 132 years in the past. Never mind, I thought we were in 2023. Wrong bottle.

    • by deek ( 22697 ) on Friday March 09, 2018 @12:40AM (#56231873) Homepage Journal

      The bottle was found without any seal, but from what I've read, they believe the seal was cork, and it had long disappeared due to it shrinking and becoming dislodged. The bottle was apparently washed ashore within a year of being thrown into the ocean, and then lay buried in sand, which helped preserve the message inside.

    • by erice ( 13380 ) on Friday March 09, 2018 @01:07AM (#56231927) Homepage

      I wonder how the bottle was sealed. If it was a cork, I'm surprised that it didn't rot or leak after 130 years.

      It wasn't sealed when they found it. The message survived because it was buried in sand.

      From TFA: (npr and bbc)

      The bottle probably arrived on the western shores of Australia within a year of being thrown overboard, the research report stated. There, it is "likely to have spent the majority of its life buried within a layer of damp sand to have remained so well preserved, with a period of recent exposure allowing its fortuitous discovery by the finders."

      • by cold fjord ( 826450 ) on Friday March 09, 2018 @02:43AM (#56232115)

        It seems likely the construction of the bottle had something to do with it.

        Oldest message in a bottle found on Western Australia beach [bbc.com]

        Sand dunes in the area are quite mobile during storm events and heavy rain, so the bottle could have been subject to "cyclical periods of exposure" which could have led to the cork in the bottle drying out and becoming dislodged, "while the tightly rolled paper along with a quantity of sand remained inside preserved".

        "The narrow 7mm bore of the bottle opening and thick glass would have assisted to buffer and preserve the paper from the effects of full exposure to the elements, providing a protective microenvironment favourable to the paper's long-term preservation," the report added.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I wonder how the bottle was sealed.

      With a kiss, obviously.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It takes a similar time for refugees to make it to our shores as well, so we are consistent. I wonder if the bottle was waylaid at Manu's Island?

  • I thought it might have belonged to Sting
  • "Send More Gin"

  • by Archfeld ( 6757 ) <treboreel@live.com> on Friday March 09, 2018 @12:47AM (#56231889) Journal

    Was it from a Prussian prince ? Just send $120.00 and I will send you 2,000,000 marks.

    • by chthon ( 580889 )

      Reichsmark, that is.

      • by Archfeld ( 6757 )

        I am not German nor do I know much German history but I thought that this was before the Reichsmark.

        SILVER MARK OF THE GERMAN EMPIRE
        Germany 1 Mark 1873-1887 This silver 1 Mark was introduced in 1873, shortly after Germany was unified under Kaiser Wilhelm. One side of the coin had the denomination and date within an oak wreath. The reverse featured the crowned German Eagle. The 24mm coin was struck in .900 fine silver and contains .1606 troy ounces of silver. It was minted until 1887, when the reverse

  • by Falconhell ( 1289630 ) on Friday March 09, 2018 @01:32AM (#56231991) Journal

    The note was apparently a NBN installation appointment.

  • That Slashdot is now 3 days behind MSM?

    This seems to have started since the site was down for so long.

  • Anybody with a working brain cas easily recognizes that the text of the message in the bottle is written with multiple computer generated fonts. Fonts that didnâ(TM)t exist 132 years ago.

    But somehow that very visible fact is completely ignored.

    The bottle may be 100+ years old, but the message is definitely from the last couple of decades.

  • by tquasar ( 1405457 ) on Friday March 09, 2018 @05:04AM (#56232353)
    Did anyone notify Sting?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    It did not just now wash ashore as the headline implies. 133 year old experiment that washed ashore years ago was just now found.

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Friday March 09, 2018 @10:22AM (#56233199) Journal
    Back in 1970s, in deep rural South India we did our science experiments. Filled a bottle half way with lime (not the fruit, calcium carbonate used for whitewash) add added tinfoil from cigarette packs cut into thin strips. Slip a balloon over the neck. Leave it in the Sun. After about six hours we have a hydrogen filled balloon. We used to attach messages to to it and let it fly. (Time to acknowledge my science master, Isaac Edward Sukumar. BSc, BEd. Greatest. Teacher. Ever. )

    No one ever found and mailed these messages back. Not surprising, since most messages called into question the validity of the marriage of the parents of anyone finding the message.

    But still, it counts as science, right?

    • by DRJlaw ( 946416 )

      Filled a bottle half way with lime (not the fruit, calcium carbonate used for whitewash) add added tinfoil from cigarette packs cut into thin strips. Slip a balloon over the neck. Leave it in the Sun. After about six hours we have a hydrogen filled balloon.

      (Time to acknowledge my science master, Isaac Edward Sukumar. BSc, BEd. Greatest. Teacher. Ever. )

      Greatest alchemist ever to get hydrogen from calcium carbonate and "tin."

      Methinks you mean slaked lime (Calcium hydroxide) and aluminum foil (which, yes, is

  • He he, could not resist.
    But chances are it was french wine or champaign bottle.

I THINK MAN INVENTED THE CAR by instinct. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.

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