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April 10th 1912: Titanic sets sail

On this day in 1912, the RMS Titanic, set sail from Southampton on her maiden and only voyage; the intended destination was New York, but the ship never made it across the Atlantic. The Titanic was the largest passenger liner the world had ever seen, and was remarkable for its opulence, which attracted notable dignitaries to its debut voyage. The vessel was built at Belfast for White Star Line, and was intended to trump the company’s rivals at Cunard. It was lauded as an ‘unsinkable’ ship, but subsequent examinations have suggested some fatal flaws in the ship’s design plus a lack of lifeboats, which only could accommodate half the passengers. Just four days after setting sail, on April 14th at around 11.40pm, the Titanic hit an iceberg. The collision caused a massive gash in the ship’s hull, dooming the vessel to sink. As the opulent ship filled with water and slowly sank, its over two thousand passengers rushed to lifeboats, but the evacuation was haphazard, with lifeboats being lowered not at full capacity. There are numerous famous stories of the ship’s final hours, including the elderly Straus couple who stayed in their cabin to die together, the violin players continuing to perform as the ship sank, and Benjamin Guggenheim who changed into his formal dress and declared “We are dressed in our best and are prepared to go down like gentlemen.”  The Titanic finally sank at around 2.20am, leaving thousands to die of hypothermia in the freezing ocean. Over 1,500 people died in the tragedy, with around 700 survivors being rescued by the Cunard’s Carpathia. The demise of the ‘unsinkable’ Titanic shocked the world, and the story of the tragic fate of a symbol of early twentieth century optimism continues to captivate the public mind.

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Remembering Titanic, 103 years later.

“It seemed as if once everybody had gone, drowned, finished, the whole world was standing still. There was nothing, just this deathly, terrible silence in the dark night with the stars overhead.”-  Eva Miriam Hart (Titanic Survivor)

Bone and skeleton distorted by osteomalacia

Literally translated, osteomalacia means “soft bones”, and in modern times very rarely leads to such extreme deformities as these.

There are many diseases and situations that lead to osteomalacia, but ultimately only one cause - defective bone mineralization leading to decreased or ceased deposition of new calcium or phosphorus in the bones. The condition itself is usually treated by administering high doses of vitamin D, while attempting to treat the underlying cause.

In children, osteomalacia is often called rickets. The adult form of the condition is often much milder than in children, but can still lead to bone weakness and bowing. In all ages, the most common cause is vitamin D deficiency, due to malabsorption by the intestines (as in Coeliac disease) , lack of sunlight, or very poor diet.

Deformities, Including Diseases of the Joints and Bones. A. H. Tubby, 1912.