Can We Solve Science Mysteries with Decades-Old Evidence?

Lusitania rests in about 309 feet of water in the Celtic Sea where scientists, using sophisticated equipment, investigated why the vessel exploded.

For years, people suspected the ship was carrying munitions which America was providing for Britain during World War One. The cargo manifest did not reveal such weapons, however.

Dr. Robert Ballard, who located the Titanic, led a diving expedition to Lusitania’s wreck site.  He and his team found that Lusitania's munitions cargo hold was empty. He also found coal scattered over the site.

After examining the evidence, Ballard concluded that U-20's torpedo struck Lusitania’s starboard coal bins, leading to a chain of fatal events. Sparks from the torpedo strike may have ignited coal powder. And the ignited coal powder, in Ballard's judgment, caused the fatal explosion.

Do you think that Ballard’s scenario makes sense? Why, or why not?

Is it significant that the dive team observed Lusitania’s munitions cargo hold was empty? Explain your answer.

Do you think we can rely on evidence, from decades or centuries ago, to solve science mysteries? Why, or why not?

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